Graduate Students


Alan Palmer

Alan Palmer is a graduate student in the Engineering Physics department working on the electro-mechanical analysis of the Pegasus-III upgrade. Alan’s research interests are in plasma and fusion science, including design and development of technology for magnetic confinement fusion devices. He is originally from Tooele, UT (pronounced too-will-uh), and studied at the University of Utah before coming to Wisconsin. His hobbies include: drumming, ballroom dancing, watching his favorite athlete of all time Lebron James, and going to plays with his beautiful wife Carolle.


Alex Rhodes

Alex Rhodes is a Ph.D. student working on plasma source development for local helicity injection. He is originally from southeast Michigan, and studied Nuclear Engineering at the University of Michigan before coming to Wisconsin. Outside of work, Alex enjoys spending time with his fiance and cat and practicing Taekwondo.



Armand Keyhani 

Armand Keyhani is a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Physics Department currently working on the development of the new diagnostic neutral beam, a major part of the Pegasus-III upgrade. Armand studied electrical engineering at the University of West Florida in his hometown Pensacola, Florida. His hobbies include: bicycling, motorcycling, throwing frisbee, playing video-games, cooking, playing guitar, listing his hobbies, and trying to keep plants alive. Fun fact: he once drove on an icy road to an elevation of 3.4 km, in a smart car… would not recommend.


Carolyn Schaefer

Carolyn Schaefer is a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Physics Department who has worked on characterizing the magnetic structure of LHI plasmas on Pegasus. She grew up in a small town north of New York City called Cold Spring and studied Nuclear Engineering at MIT prior to starting graduate studies at UW-Madison. Outside of work, Carolyn enjoys crafty baking, weightlifting, hiking, skiing, and boogie-ing to fun music with her friends. Fun fact: she hopes to have learned how to wink by the time she graduates.


Chris Pierren

Chris Pierren came to Wisconsin to pursue a PhD in plasma physics in the Engineering Physics department after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Electrical Engineering. His engineering background has been put to use in upgrades to the Pegasus control systems. These upgrades enabled experiments exploring the sustainment of tokamak-like plasmas initiated with local helicity injection current drive; the topic of his PhD research. When not staring at computer screens he enjoys getting outside and giving Temo a hard time.


Cuauhtemoc Rodriguez Sanchez

Temo is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Physics who studies the impurity content of LHI plasmas on Pegasus. He is originally from Durango, Mexico, and he attended the University of Texas at Austin where he majored in Physics before moving to Madison to pursue his passion for fusion energy. Outside of work, Temo enjoys playing fútbol, weightlifting, running, and cross-training. He hates taking rest days. More recently he has rekindled a childhood passion for martial arts, earning an orange belt in Kung Fu. Fun fact: His post-grad school aspiration is to be Harvey Specter and/or Cristiano Ronaldo.


Grant Bodner

Grant Bodner is a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Physics Department investigating the electron heating and confinement in LHI plasmas on Pegasus. Grant is also responsible for the maintenance and operation of the multi-point Thomson scattering (MPTS) diagnostic, which is used to measure electron temperature and density. He is originally from Gainesville, VA in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. but went to UW-Madison for his undergrad. His interests include weightlifting, winning fantasy football championships, learning French, and going out with his friends.


Jill Peery

Jill Peery is a Ph.D. student in the Physics department, working on simulations related to RF-EBW heating and current drive. She’s originally from Washington state and went to undergrad at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon before coming to Madison. Outside of work, she enjoys swimming, creative writing and playing with her cat.



Justin Weberski

Justin Weberski is a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Physics Department who has worked on validating predictive modeling capabilities of LHI plasmas on Pegasus. More recently, Justin has been working on equilibrium modeling for scenarios on Pegasus-III to help inform the design of the new divertor coil set, CHI electrode design, and internal magnetic diagnostic suite. He grew up in a western suburb of Chicago called St.Charles, IL and studied Nuclear Engineering at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana prior to starting his graduate studies at UW-Madison. Outside of work, Justin likes to spend his time following his favorite Chicago sports teams (Cubs, Bears, and Bulls), weightlifting, playing softball, snowboarding, listening to country music, and finding his next TV show to binge-watch.


Nathan Richner

Nathan Richner is a PhD student working on MHD stability, magnetic turbulence, current drive, and helicity transport on Pegasus. He is from southern Nevada and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Physics and Nuclear Engineering.



Rachel Sassella

Rachel Sassella is a Ph.D. student in the Physics Department studying magnetic turbulence and current drive on Pegasus. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and majored in engineering at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. When not in the lab, she is often to be found dancing, hiking, enthusing about housing cooperatives, or swimming in Lake Mendota.


Undergraduate Students