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Fellows Directory

Steven Cowley

Sir Steven Cowley FREng FRS


Elected: 2014


Steven Cowley is a leading plasma theorist and currently President of Corpus Christi College Oxford.  He is the former Chief Executive Officer at the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Much of his research career has been devoted to modelling and understanding plasma turbulence in nuclear fusion, a phenomenon that must be controlled to achieve stable fusion. Nuclear fusion will offer future generations a cleaner and safer source of energy and has the potential to meet the majority of the world’s energy demands. At present, however, more energy is required to feed the process than can be produced. 

Steven is leading the UK’s participation in ITER, an experimental reactor that is set to make nuclear fusion commercially viable. Steven’s interest in plasmas extends to those found on a large scale throughout the Universe. He showed that these astrophysical plasmas also invariably exhibit turbulence, which amplifies and shapes their magnetic fields. Steven presented a 2009 TED talk entitled Fusion is Energy’s Future and received the 2012 Glazebrook Medal from the Institute of Physics, which rewards leadership in a physics context.

Professional positions

President, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
Chief Executive, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Astrophysics, Nuclear fusion, Theoretical physics