USDOE Fusion Energy Scienes Office Leadership Announcement

May 16, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science has announced the selection of a new director for its Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program. The position has been vacant since the September 10, 2022 retirement of its previous director Dr. James W. Van Dam (see FPN22-35).

The announcement is below:

FES Leadership Announcement

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jean Paul Allain as the Associate Director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences (FES). The final steps of the recruitment process are under way, and his official start date will be announced soon.

Dr. Allain will join us from Pennsylvania State University, where he has been responsible for leading and managing a major nuclear engineering department. In this position, he has provided vision and strategy for the department's efforts in advanced nuclear fission and fusion technologies, resulting in faculty and student engagement with departments, colleges, and institutes across the university enterprise. Dr. Allain was also responsible for establishing strategic initiatives in advanced nuclear with stakeholders in national labs and industry, including an initiative in advanced reactors for the Appalachia region. Additionally, Dr. Allain has led the growth of faculty by more than 60 percent in three years and helped expand instructional and experimental facilities of nuclear and plasma science and technology at the university with investment, recruitment, and operational budgets totaling more than $30 million. His efforts have resulted in establishing the nation's second largest nuclear engineering undergraduate graduation class, and more than doubling the graduate student population of nuclear engineering students at Penn State.

Dr. Allain is a leading scientist in plasma-material interactions and fusion technology with funding from the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation totaling more than $16 million in the past 18 years. He has served on more than 25 national and international studies and panels related to strategic planning for fusion energy sciences and was recently appointed to the DOE Office of Science Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC). He has been recognized with multiple awards including the American Nuclear Society's Fusion Energy Division Technical Accomplishment Award in 2018 and most recently, the 2023 IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Society Fusion Technology Award.

Dr. Allain's research includes work in plasma-material interaction (PMI) diagnostics, fusion materials surface chemistry, computational PMI, and the development of novel tungsten alloy composites and self-healing plasma-facing materials. Dr. Allain has successfully translated research from nuclear fusion technology to plasma engineering applications in multiple fields, including plasma medicine, natural biopolymers, compound semiconductor nanopatternings, bulk metallic glasses, and high entropy alloys. Dr. Allain is an international scholar with more than 162 peer-reviewed publications, 200 proceedings, 120 invited talks, 400 contributed presentations, 5 book chapters, and 10 patents. He also founded Energy Driven Technologies LLC and Editekk Inc., raising more than $2.1 million in entrepreneurial and innovation funding.

Dr. Allain will be taking over FES at an unprecedented time with a record level of private equity investment in nuclear fusion startups, the achievement of nuclear fusion ignition demonstrated at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and President Biden's Bold Decadal Vision announcement in 2022 to accelerate the development of commercial fusion energy.

Dr. Allain will lead the planning, development, and administration of research programs in FES and the coordination of such activities with the research needs of DOE and other government agencies supporting fusion and plasma science research. Dr. Allain will serve as an advisor to DOE senior leadership on fundamental scientific topics and initiatives supported by the FES program to maintain DOE's and the United States' leadership in fusion energy sciences and fundamental plasma science and help accelerate commercial fusion energy.

Until Dr. Allain is officially on board, Dr. John Mandrekas will serve as acting Associate Director for FES. John has been with the Office of Science for 16 years and has been serving as the Division Director for Research in FES since 2020.

We are thrilled to have Dr. Allain join the Office of Science given his vast leadership experience, and we want to thank John for his willingness to serve as acting Associate Director in the interim.


Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Director, Office of Science
U.S. Department of Energy

Harriet Kung
Deputy Director for Science Programs, Office of Science
U.S. Department of Energy

Juston Fontaine
Deputy Director for Operations, Office of Science
U.S. Department of Energy