Student and Early Career Scientists

The APS DPP Committee for the COncerns of studeNts aNd Early Career scienTists (CONNECT) aims to help those who are at an early stage in their scientific careers (e.g., undergrads, grad students, and postdocs) find their place in the field of plasma physics, and/or beyond. This page seeks to provide easy access to the resources and information most relevant to the needs of students and early-career scientists. Any suggestions for additional content? Contact Us!

APS-DPP Meeting Activities   Resources for Early Careers 

Graduate Research & Award Opportunities   Internships & Undergraduate Opportunities

Free APS student membership!
APS offers membership free for the first year for students in physics, related science, and engineering graduate and undergraduate programs welcoming students to the American and International physics community. Students are eligible to join two APS Divisions or Topical Groups. Go to Membership for APS Free Student Trial Membership information.

Check out the APS-DPP Fusion and Plasma Graduate School Day.

Contact Us:

Magnus Haw (Chair)

Oak Nelson (Vice Chair)
Columbia University

Elizabeth Merritt (Past Chair)
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Expanded Career Counseling & Resume Help Desk at DPP!

Help Desk available 9 am - 5 pm on Wednesday Nov. 10 & Thursday Nov. 11

Help both in-person and virtual

Starting with this year's DPP meeting, the Resume Help Desk has been expanded to include Career Counseling.  Participants can seek help with their resumes and/or career advice from a professional plasma scientist.  These scientists will provide an impartial, informal sounding board for participants' career ideas and aspirations and provide advice on various career paths.

Help will be available for both in-person and virtual DPP attendees. In-person signup for Help Desk time slots will begin at 9 am on Tuesday, November 9 in the Job Fair area of the Exhibit Hall at the Convention Center, and in-person sessions will take place in the same location.  Signup instructions for virtual participants will be posted on the Job Fair web page (  Participants will be able to choose from a list of professional scientists with a variety of backgrounds.

While the Help Desk is provided in conjunction with the Job Fair, it is not a venue to interview for jobs.  Those seeking job interviews should register for the Job Fair, as described in the Job Seeker instructions on the Job Fair web page.

CONNECT Town Hall at DPP 

Tuesday 9 November at 12:45 p.m. EST, Rm 401-402 in-person 

This event offers students and early-career scientists the opportunity to hear from more established researchers in a Q&A panel discussion about career choices and trajectories.  Topics in the past have included choosing in which area to seek employment, making oneself an attractive applicant, achieving healthy work-life balance, managing career transitions, and everything in between. 

We are pleased to announce this year's panel: 

  • Maria Gatu Johnson, Research Scientist, MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center
  • David A Schaffner, Associate Professor, Bryn Mawr College
  • Alex Creely, Scientist, Commonwealth Fusion Systems
  • Mingsheng Wei, Senior Scientist & Manager of the National Laser Users’ Facility, University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics

Please plan to arrive a few minutes early, so the panel can start promptly at 12:45 pm.  Hope to see you there!

APS-DPP Meeting Activities 

Grants for Student Participation in the APS-DPP Meeting
Note: There will be no travel grants for 2020 since the 2020 APS-DPP Meeting will be virtual! Instead, we offer a Student Participation Grant

APS-DPP Student Travel Grant
APS-DPP offers a limited number of student travel grants to enable students to attend and present at the DPP annual meeting. Travel grant recipients must be currently enrolled in a high school, undergraduate, or Ph.D. program at a U.S. or international institution and conducting cutting-edge research in plasma physics.

More info

Job Fair (Monday — Wednesday)
The APS-DPP Job Fair usually takes place Mon-Wed during the APS-DPP annual meeting. Many opportunities for postdoc, faculty, technical staff, scientist positions, etc. in academia, industry, and national labs are posted at the APS Physics Job Center

Make sure you sign up for an APS Physics Job Center Account (visit ahead of the conference so that you can:
  • Upload your resume, CV, and cover letters for your applications.
  • Search the Job Fair postings.
  • Schedule interviews with potential employers.
  • Create a job alert to get email notifications for new job postings.

More from APS on writing an effective resume.

Student Day (Sunday)
This event, held for the first time in 2019, is a relatively informal "student session" on the Sunday before the start of the APS-DPP annual meeting. The format is an alternating sequence of tutorial talks and research talks --- for students, by students (and postdocs). The goal is to offer graduate students an easier introduction to the annual meeting (which is often overwhelming the first time(s) one attends), a chance to learn the basics about sub-fields not found at their institutions, practice giving talks to a broader plasma physics audience, and an opportunity to connect with other student attendees. The invited talks will be uploaded on the AIP Physics of Plasmas website, as an option to the authors. Details (e.g., when and how to sign up, how to nominate someone for a talk, etc.) are published on the APS-DPP annual meeting website 4-5 months before the event.

Graduate School Fair (Tuesday morning)
Are you an undergrad wondering how and where you can pursue further studies in fusion energy and plasma science? Visit the Graduate School Fair on Tuesday morning, where graduate schools present posters highlighting research opportunities at their institutions. 

Town Hall Meeting (Tuesday lunch)
All are welcome to attend the APS-DPP Committee on the Concerns of Students and Early Career Scientists Town Hall Meeting, traditionally held during the Tuesday lunch break of the APS-DPP annual meeting.

This event is a chance for attendees to interview and get advice from those who are more established in their careers. This may, for example, take the form of a Q&A panel or a rotating round table discussion. Topics have included how to choose which sector to seek employment, how to make oneself an attractive applicant, achieving a healthy work-life balance, and managing career transitions. Panelists/speakers are different every year. Recommendations for themes and nominations for panelists are always welcome!

DPP Undergraduate Poster Session (Tues afternoon)
On Tuesday afternoon, APS-DPP holds a poster session dedicated to undergraduates, providing an opportunity for students to present results from summer and thesis research, as well as to meet other students and plasma physicists, such as early career and senior researchers. DPP will present an outstanding poster award to undergraduate students with exceptional presentations during the Student Appreciation Reception. 

Student Appreciation Reception (Tuesday evening)

The DPP Chair hosts a Student Appreciation Reception (traditionally Tuesday evening) for all graduate, undergraduate, and high school student participants of the DPP annual meeting. Student advisors and DPP attendees are also welcome. The reception is a great opportunity to network, unwind, and celebrate your contributions.

University of Tennessee Knoxville undergraduate student maintaining the UTK Plasma Exposure Stage used for studies of He ion damage to tungsten. Image Credit: UTK

Resources for Early Careers in Fusion Energy and Plasma Science

Wondering if this field is right for you? If you would like to get a flavor of research topics in fusion energy and plasma science, check out the Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Physics Course. Lectures are given by world-renowned scientists from all over the country and span a wide range of topics, including discovery plasma sciences, magnetic fusion energy, fusion materials and technology, and high energy density plasmas. Archived lectures from previous years are also available.

Find out more about the types of possible careers in fusion energy and plasma science at APS-DPP Careers.

Early Career Postings

Many postdoc and staff positions can be found at the annual APS-DPP Job Fair and posted online at the APS Physics Job Center.

The U.S. DOE Fusion Energy Sciences Postdoctoral Research Program offers recent doctoral degree recipients the opportunity to conduct research in the U.S. DOE fusion energy research and development programs. 

APS also offers career resources online and statistics about careers in physics. The APS Industry Mentoring for Physicists (IMPact) program is intended to connect graduate students and postdocs with physicists who have experience working in industry.

Graduate Research and Award Opportunities

Graduate Research 

A graduate degree in plasma physics or fusion science and technology can lead to exciting careers in academia, national laboratories, and industry. Want to know where you can study fusion and plasma science? Check out our list of institutions offering degrees.

Visit the FUSION AND PLASMA GRADUATE SCHOOL DAY page for more info on grad school applications and institutions with fusion and plasma research opportunities.  

The APS-DPP meeting epitome can also be useful to find topics and universities for study and research.

Funding and Award Opportunities
The slide presentation "Fellowship Opportunities for Graduate Students in Plasma Physics" lists many funding opportunities available for graduate students in fusion energy and plasma science from the National Science Foundation (plasma physics at NSF can be found both in the Mathematical & Physical Sciences and the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences divisions), Department of Energy Office of Science, Fulbright program, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowships, Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration, etc.

Every year, APS-DPP issues the Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award. This award recognizes exceptional young scientists who have performed original thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in the area of plasma physics. The award consists of $2,000, a certificate, and a registration waiver to give an invited talk on the recipient’s doctoral research at the Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics (DPP), and receive the award at the DPP awards banquet.

Internships and Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is important because it is a chance to build your resume, create connections, and explore career opportunities.  

How do I find undergraduate research opportunities?
Getting involved with research could be as easy as knocking on the door of professors and labs at your undergraduate institution and asking for research projects. You can also spend a summer at another university or institution.

Some summer research/internships are posted at the APS Physics Jobs Center

Students can gain technical training experience relevant to plasma physics and fusion energy through the Department of Energy (DOE) Community College Internship (CCI) (for community college students) or the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program (for undergraduates and recent graduates). When applying, students should choose a host DOE Laboratory that offers projects in plasma physics and fusion energy research (such as PPPL or General Atomics).

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) Science Education Department also offers programs such as internships and workshops for high school, undergraduates, and graduates, as well as students and educators from K-8 through high school.

The National Science Foundation funds research opportunities for undergraduate students (REUs). Try searching for keyword “plasma” at Search for an REU Site.

Additional fusion energy and plasma research opportunities could be found by doing some investigative work. The DOE Office of Science posts an interactive grants map of sites with funding for fusion energy sciences. You could email professors and labs at these institutions to ask for summer research opportunities. Don’t be afraid to be bold!

Other opportunities for internships (and scholarships) might be found on the website for federally-sponsored opportunities for undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas.

The DOE Office of Science posts an interactive grants map of sites with funding for fusion energy sciences.