My experience carrying out an Undergraduate thesis in the BSC Fusion group

I am Eric Planas, and as part of the BSc in Engineering Physics program at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), in February 10th I joined the Fusion Group at Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in order to carry out my Final Degree Thesis. Now that I am finishing the project and my journey as an undergraduate student is coming to an end, I am writing this post to relate my experience in this group.

My project, entitled “Modelling and simulation of plasma heating with ICRF waves in JET tokamak”, consists of the numerical modelling of present plasma discharges carried out at the Joint European Torus. Strong emphasis has been given in the analysis of the impact of ion cyclotron resonance frequency heating (ICRH) on the fusion performance. In particular, I have modelled several record discharges of the present D majority campaign which featured a hydrogen minority population. Besides, I have extrapolated the results of one of them to a 50%:50% D-T scenario to contribute to the preparation of the next D-T campaign (DTE2) planned to begin in 2021.

Regarding my stay in the group, I felt welcome from the very first day by all the members. I was assigned a mentor, Dr Dani Gallart, who helped me to settle in. I barely knew anything about fusion and plasma heating, so he gently taught me all I needed to know on the topic. He also taught me how to use the PION code, which I used to perform the simulations to develop my project, and how to use the JET database to collect useful experimental data for my analysis.

In the middle of my stay in the group, due to the COVID-19 outbreak we were forced to work from home for an indefinite amount of time, so I had to carry on with my project under rather challenging circumstances. Nevertheless, we managed to adapt ourselves to the new conditions, keeping in touch via videoconferences and having frequent meetings to comment on the work progress and on any issues that might arise.

In June 29th I am submitting my Undergraduate thesis and I am defending it in July. I am happy with the results and I truly enjoyed my stay here doing this project. Besides, I have been able take a glimpse on what is like to work in real research and specially in a field that has the potential to change the world. Therefore, all I can say is thank you very much to all the members of Fusion Group to make it possible!

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