30 May 2023, Oxford, UK: First Light Fusion, a global leader in researching energy generation via inertial fusion, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Rick Spielman to its Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr Spielman brings over 40 years of experience in high voltage pulsed-power design & engineering, circuit modelling, and laser-material interactions to First Light Fusion. He was awarded the 2023 Erwin Marx award for contributions to pulsed-power technology.

Having held several prestigious positions, including as Chief Scientist, Project Manager, and Manager at Sandia National Laboratories, Dr Spielman led the successful design and development of the Z Machine - the most powerful pulsed-power driver in the world. He has also held senior academic positions at Idaho State University and is a Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester.

Aligning with First Light Fusion's mission to deliver clean, safe, and abundant energy through controlled fusion, he is currently supporting Sandia National Laboratories’ pulsed-power efforts the on Z accelerator and on the Next Generation Pulsed Power (NGPP) facility.

Following his appointment as the new Inaugural Dean of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability last year, Professor Arun Majumdar has stepped down from First Light’s Scientific Advisory Board. As a former member and chair of the Board, we would like to thank Prof Majumdar his hugely valuable input over the past four years and wish him every success in his new role.

Dr Nick Hawker, Founder & CEO of First Light Fusion, commented:

"We are thrilled to welcome Rick to our Scientific Advisory Board. His extensive experience and expertise in pulsed-power design and engineering will be invaluable as we continue to develop our unique fusion technology. We look forward to working closely with him and benefiting from his guidance and insights. The development of our new gain demonstrator, Machine 4, at UKAEA’s Culham Campus in Oxfordshire, is a major next step in developing our unique one-sided approach to inertial fusion. Rick’s long track record as one of the world’s leading authorities on pulsed power will be of huge help as we progress towards aching our mission.

“We would like to thank Prof Arun Majumdar for his time on our Scientific Advisory Board, both as a member and Chair. Arun’s support, advice and expertise have been invaluable to the Board and management over that time, and we wish him every success in his new role”

Dr Rick Spielman, said:

“I am excited to join the Scientific Advisory Board of First Light Fusion and contributing where I can to their pioneering work in fusion. I believe that fusion energy has enormous potential to transform our energy systems and mitigate climate change. First Light is making rapid progress and I look forward to supporting their development.”


About First Light Fusion

First Light Fusion was spun out from the University of Oxford in 2011 to address the urgent need to decarbonise the global energy system. First Light’s inertial confinement approach aims to create the extreme temperatures and pressures required for fusion by compressing a target using a hypervelocity projectile. First Light’s approach to fusion, which is safe, clean, and virtually limitless, has the potential to transform the world’s energy system. Unlike existing nuclear, there is no long-lived waste, no meltdown risk, and raw materials can be found in abundance.

First Light’s Advisory Board comprises:

  • Jeremy Chittenden (Professor of Plasma Physics at Imperial College);
  • Steven Chu (William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology at Stanford University);
  • Richard Dennis (former Global Director of Research and Development for Doosan Babcock Energy Ltd);
  • Richard L. Garwin (IBM Fellow Emeritus at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center);
  • Sir David King (former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser);
  • Steven Rose (formerly of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Central Laser Facility);
  • Ronald Roy (Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford); and
  • Andrew Randewich (Executive Director Engineering and Science at AWE).
  • Dr Rick Spielman (Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester)