Plasma Pride


Our Mission

Physicists within the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) LGBT+ community (which includes, but is not limited to, those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, non-binary, asexual, or aromantic) face discrimination with uneven protections across the US and internationally. This inequity is reflected within the American Physical Society (APS), whose 2016 LGBT Climate in Physics Report highlighted that there is still much work to be done to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBT+ physicists.

Our Goals

The APS DPP Pride Committee was established in 2021 and envisions a scientific community that is open, welcoming, and supportive of all scientists within the gender and sexual orientation minority communities. Our aims are to (1) Promote equity for LGBT+ physicists within our profession; (2) Foster community among LGBT+ physicists and their allies through professional networks, mentorship, and safe spaces; (3) Educate and engage allies, support efforts to end discrimination against LGBT+ physicists, and highlight LGBT+ contributions to plasma science; (4) Collaborate with other diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to address inclusion for all groups and issues of intersectionality; and (5) Pursue a data-driven approach for identifying representation and climate-related problems and guiding solutions to those problems.

Interested in becoming a member of the APS DPP Pride Committee? Contact Us!

Meet the Committee 

Derek Schaeffer (he/him)
Chair, 2021-2023

Dr. Schaeffer is an Associate Research Scholar in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton and a long-term visitor in the Theory Department of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. His research interests focus on experiments and numerical simulations of magnetized high-energy-density plasmas with strongly-driven flows, with emphasis on topics in laboratory astrophysics including collisionless shocks, magnetic reconnection, magnetized transport, and magnetospheres. He is an avid oenophile and fan of LabVIEW, Star Trek, and Star Trek-themed LabVIEW

Eli Parke (they/them)
Vice-Chair, 2021-2024

Eli Parke is a Scientist at TAE Technologies, Inc. They specialize in laser diagnostics for magnetically confined plasmas and work on the advanced, beam-driven field-reversed configuration experiment “Norman” in TAE’s fusion program. Eli is also an enthusiastic cyclist and fan of queer comics.

Mel Abler (they/them)
Treasurer/Secretary, 2021-2022

Mel Abler is a doctoral researcher at Columbia University focusing on experimental studies of electrostatic turbulence and nonlinear wave coupling in dipole plasmas. Their primary research interest is recreating astrophysical phenomena in the lab to study fundamental plasma processes. Outside the lab, Mel is an avid theater goer, union organizer, and competitive rower. They are also the U.S. Program Director for TopRow, an organization focused on expanding access to rowing for adults.

Steve Vincena (he/him),
Member-at-Large, 2021-2024

Steve is a Research Physicist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles where he is a Co-PI of the Basic Plasma Science Facility ( His research interests include the physics of Alfvén waves (in nonuniform plasmas, multi-ion plasmas, and their nonlinear interactions); magnetic flux ropes; laser-produced plasmas interacting with ambient plasmas; and the PlasmaPy project ( He particularly enjoys recreating and studying naturally occurring plasma phenomena in the laboratory through scaled physics experiments. His interests over the years outside of the lab have included acting, surfing, hiking, and (good) science fiction.

Jeff Woolstrum (he/him)
Member-at-Large, 2021-2023

Jeff Woolstrum is a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences department. His research focuses on using Hall physics in large-scale magneto-hydrodynamic simulations to explore new explanations for instability development in high-energy-density z-pinch plasma experiments. Z-pinches provide a platform for ignited nuclear fusion, astrophysics plasma studies, material physics, and warm dense matter studies, as well as national defense efforts. Jeff is also a former semi-pro soccer player, sailor, rock climber, and avid reader.


Dave Ampleford (he/him)
Member-at-Large, 2021-2022

Dave Ampleford is an experimental plasma physicist with research interests in inertial confinement fusion, x-ray sources and laboratory astrophysics. He received a PhD in plasma physics from Imperial College London in 2005. Dave currently manages the fusion experiments organization at Sandia National Laboratories, overseeing inertial confinement fusion experiments and neutron diagnostic development on Sandia’s Z machine. In his spare time Dave enjoys hiking and playing trumpet.

Jack Hare (he/him)
Member-at-Large, 2021-2022

Prof. Hare is an assistant professor in the Nuclear Science and Engineering department at MIT, where he is the PI of PUFFIN, He works on fundamental processes in pulsed-power driven magnetized high-energy-density plasmas, such as magnetic reconnection and magnetized turbulence. When not doing research, Jack enjoys hiking, cycling, ski mountaineering and cave exploration.

Brian Henderson (he/him)
Member-at-Large, 2021-2022

Brian Henderson is a PhD student at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics in the Experimental High Energy Density Physics group. His research focuses on measuring equations of state at densities applicable to inertial confinement fusion and terrestrial evolution, and optical design for high energy density diagnostics. Outside of work, Brian enjoys online gaming, Dungeons and Dragons, craft beer, and is an amateur horticulturist.