Assistant Professor and Zinkle Faculty Fellow Livia Casali joins the department’s fusion program from the Magnetic Fusion Energy Division at General Atomics in San Diego, where she was a staff scientist at DIII-D, the largest tokamak in the USA and one of the leading fusion facilities worldwide.
Casali is the leader of the core-edge integration area for the DIII-D tokamak, an expert member of the International tokamak physics activity in support of ITER and member of the executive committee for the US transport task force.
Casali works on both experiments and state-of-the art computational modeling with a focus on the role of radiative divertor and impurity behavior to achieve high-performance operating scenarios integrated with high power exhaust solutions in tokamaks. This research known as “Core-Edge Integration” is currently the grand challenge in fusion energy science.
A newly appointed member of the US Burning Plasma Organization Council, she is a recognized leader in this field for conducting, among other novel studies, the first impurity seeding experiments in the slot divertor at DIII-D and investigating the new findings with cutting-edge diagnostics and state-of-the-art computational tools.
In 2020, this research was a featured article in Physics of Plasmas Journal and selected to be presented in many invited and oral contributions in leading conferences in the field such as the American Physics Society Conference APS-DPP in 2019 for which she was awarded the DIII-D Science Director Special Prize for an Exceptional Invited talk.
“In 1920, scientists found the mechanism that supplies the energy for the sun to burn: nuclear fusion,” she said. “Soon, they realized that controlling this process could lead to an immense energy production on earth. The realization of controlled thermonuclear fusion as an energy source would transform society, providing a nearly limitless energy source with renewable fuel. I’m enthusiastic to contribute my research to one of the century’s biggest scientific and technological challenges, which aims to reproduce on earth what keeps the stars burning and therefore gives us life: nuclear fusion.”
Prior to working in the US, Casali studied internationally. She received a graduate degree in nuclear and subnuclear physics from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, while also spending time at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics Garching, Germany thanks to the Erasmus and the German Academic Exchange fellowships.
Casali obtained her PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching and the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. For her doctoral research, she was awarded the European Physical Society/Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion Poster Prize at the European Physics Society Conference. She also received the Pietro Blaserna award, named for the the founder of the Italian Physics, for her highly proficient scientific activity.
In 2021, her scientific research entitled “Keeping it Cool while Maintaining Core Performance,” was honored by the US Department of Energy. Casali is committed to sharing science with the wider community, organizing events for the public, and talking about fusion to decision makers to advocate for fusion in US congress.