As theoretical physicists...

We aim to understand the phenomenology of plasma in the laboratory and in the cosmos. We use mathematical models and computer simulations to explain how plasmas move, interact with magnetic fields and boundaries, and evolve on various scales.

Working with collaborators in the U.S. and around the world, we advance fundamental physics concepts that guide experiments and project applications, such as the development of magnetic fusion energy.

This website offers information about our group members, research activities, and publications. We invite you to browse it and to contact us with any questions.

News and Announcements

Well done, Xiang and Hoony!

During June's commencement ceremonies, Graduate Student Researcher Xiang Fan received his Ph.D. in Physics, following an outstanding thesis defense presentation on plasma tranport and scalar tubulence in May. Learn more about Xiang.

Undergraduate Student Researcher Hoony Kang was named the recipient of the Shang-keng Ma Memorial Award. Each year, this recognition is presented to a graduating physics student who has shown exceptional ability and promise during his/her UC San Diego undergraduate years. Learn more about Hoony.

UCSD Department of Physics Commencement, 2019

Xiang Fan

Congratulations, Xiang!

Xiang Fan defended his doctoral thesis on May 23. Thanks to all who attended!

Thesis title: "Cascades, spectra, real space structure, inhomogeneous mixing and transport in active scalar turbulence"

View Presentation

View Thesis

Learn more about Xiang.

Oscillator's pseudopotential and its phase plane

Staircase evolution article chosen as Editor's Suggestion

A recent article by Drs. Malkov and Diamond on staircase structure and dynamics was selected as a PRFluids Editor's Suggestion.

Download PDF.

Learn more about Dr. Malkov.

Cap of a puff of turbulence

Avalanching article featured as AIP Scilight

We're thrilled that Robin Heinonen and Pat Diamond's new article describing a unified model of turbulence spreading and avalanching was selected as an AIP Scilight! Scilights summarize the significance of the most interesting new physical science research published across AIP Publishing journals. Congratulations, Robin!

"Uncovering what triggers avalanches in plasma" by Chris Patrick

Read Scilight article online.
Download Scilight article.

Read the research article.

Learn more about Robin.

Roald Sagdeev

Interview with Roald Sagdeev

Professor Diamond's oral history interview with Professor Roald Z. Sagdeev is now published in the European Physical Journal H., as part of a special issue on the history of plasma physics.

This interview presents Roald Z. Sagdeev's story of plasma physics in Russia (1956-1988). It chronicles the Russian school's achievements in basic, laboratory, fusion, and space plasma physics. The interview includes Sagdeev's memories of his graduate school days in Moscow and his work at several institutes—Kurchatov, IKI, and the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics. He also shares many stories of his collaborations and friendships with notable scientists, including Marshall Rosenbluth, Mikhail Leontovich, Alec Galeev, and Vladimir Zakharov. The conversation reflects Sagdeev's unique and significant influence in modern plasma theory, Russian space exploration and his support of international cooperation for the advancement of humanity.

Special thanks to Dr. Mikhail Malkov for participating in the seventh discussion, "Space plasma physics and the IKI years."

We hope you'll enjoy hearing Prof. Sagdeev's stories in his own words!

Download PDF

Learn more about Roald Sagdeev

SWIP logo

1st Chengdu Theory Festival

Thank you to the scientists who joined us for last month's Chengdu Theory Festival. You made this first-ever conference an incredible success! Special thanks to the organizers and the Southwestern Institute of Physics for hosting more than 120 students and 25 lecturers.

The Chengdu Theory Festival aims to promote collaboration and education at the cutting edge of research in theoretical fusion plasma physics and related fields. Early career scientists, postdocs, and PhD students have in-depth discussions with leading researchers and collaborate on current theory (similar to Festival de Theorie).

From our UC San Diego research group, Prof. Pat Diamond and Prof. George Tynan gave lectures on turbulence, drift waves, and density limits. Prof. Pat Diamond also served as chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee.

Again, thank you to everyone who attended and made this festival possible! We look forward to seeing you at the next Chengdu Theory Festival. Visit the conference website to view topics, learn more about SWIP's Center for Fusion Science, and find lectures and videos posted from the conference.

Participants of the First Chengdu Theory Festival 2018

Upcoming Seminars

Monday, September 30

Plasma Physics Seminar
SERF 329

Tatsuya Kobayashi, Ph.D.

National Institute for Fusion Science, Toki, Japan

Talk title: "Interplay between magnetic island and turbulence in DIII-D plasmas"


Discover new research...
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Newest Publications

Nonlinear phase bores in drift wave-zonal flow dynamics
Kang, H. and P.H. Diamond
Phys. Plasmas 26, 102304, 2019; doi:10.1063/1.5111987
[download PDF]

Hysteresis as a Probe of Turbulent Bifurcation in Intrinsic Rotation Reversals on Alcator C-Mod
Cao, N.M., J.E. Rice, P.H. Diamond, A.E. White, S.G. Baek, M.A. Chilenski, J.W. Hughes, J. Irby, M.L. Reinke, and P. Rodriguez-Fernandez
Nucl. Fusion. 59, 104001, 2019; doi:10.1088/1741-4326/ab3b38
[download PDF]

Studies of Reynolds Stress and the Turbulent Generation of Edge Poloidal Flows on the HL-2A Tokamak
Long, T., P.H. Diamond, M. Xu, R. Ke, L. Nie, B. Li, Z.H. Wang, J.Q. Xu, X.R. Duan, and HL-2A Team
Nucl. Fusion 59, 106010, 2019; doi:10.1088/1741-4326/ab33cf
[download PDF]

Mouth Function Determines the Shape Oscillation Pattern in Regenerating Hydra Tissue Spheres
Wang, Rui, T. Goel, K. Khazoyan, Z. Sabry, H.J. Quan, P.H. Diamond, and E.-M.S. Collins
Biophys. J., 117, 1-11, 2019; doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2019.07.051
Article: [download PDF]
Supplementary material: [download PDF]

Scale Selection and Feedback Loops for Patterns in Drift Wave–Zonal Flow Turbulence
Guo, Weixin, P.H. Diamond, D.W. Hughes, Lu Wang, and Arash Ashourvan
Plasma Phys. Contr. F. 61, 105002, 2019; doi:10.1088/1361-6587/ab3831

How to Write a Plain Language Summary
Jirik, K.E.
University of California San Diego
[download PDF]

Summary of the Fundamental Plasma Physics Session in the First AAPPS-DPP Conference
Xu, M., G.Z. Hao, and P.H. Diamond
Rev. Mod. Plasma Phys. 3:4, 2019; doi:10.1007/s41614-019-0028-y
[download PDF]

Spontaneous Transport Barriers Quench Turbulent Resistivity in Two-dimensional Magnetohydrodynamics
Fan, Xiang, P.H. Diamond, L. Chacón
Phys. Rev. E 99, 041201(R), 2019; doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.99.041201
Article: [download PDF]
Supplemental material: [download PDF]

Dynamics of Potential Vorticity Staircase Evolution and Step Mergers in a Reduced Model of Beta-plane Turbulence
Malkov, M.A. and P.H. Diamond
Phys. Rev. Fluids 4, 044503, 2019; doi:10.1103/PhysRevFluids.4.044503
[download PDF]

More publications



We develop theory related to plasma and fusion science, including:

  • Nonlinear dynamics of plasmas and fluids
  • Anomalous transport
  • Self-organized criticality in confined plasma
  • L-H transition, transport barrier physics
  • Dynamo theory
  • Nonlinear waves in space plasma

Learn more.



Our work is primarily funded by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy (Grant No. DE-FG02-04ER54738).



In memory of Professor Marshall N. Rosenbluth, an American plasma physicist and UCSD professor of enormous intellect, integrity, generosity, and vision.