Politics and Plasma

Laura Berzak Hopkins, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Big science, like NIF or ITER, comes with unique opportunities and challenges. Facilities of this scale seek to address major scientific questions and issues that face our society, but also require a large-scale commitment from non-scientific funding authorities, like Congress. As a former Congressional Fellow and a current design physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, I have had the opportunity to experience both sides of this pairing, which has allowed my work to transition between coal ash and slurry regulations and inertial confinement fusion research. A common theme along these disparate paths is that both sides would benefit from an improved understanding of the challenges and motivations of the other side. To address this problem and further the goals of big science, it is critical that scientists take a greater role in the political process and make substantial efforts to communicate the importance of what they do to both politicians and the general public.

Abstract Author(s): Laura Berzak Hopkins