On 1 february 2011 Sibylle Günter assumed office as scientific Director of ipp at garching and greifs wald. shesucceeds günther hasinger, who headed ipp between  2008 and 2011. sibylle günter  is a professor of theo retical physics and has been with ipp for fourteen years now. she is head of research unit of ipp and Chair of the EFDA Steering Committee.

picture of Sibylle Günther

Sibylle Günter Picture: IPP

Sibylle, where do you see the main challenges for European fusion research?

First of all we must build ITER. Secondly, we must ensure a research programme which prepares for its exploitation – despite the financial constraints we face due to the cost of ITER construction. I will be almost ready to retire when ITER starts deuteriumtritium experiments in 2026. We must foster a next generation of fusion researchers who will be capable of using ITER when the time comes. In addition, we must explore the potential of the stellarator concept for a fusion reactor. Within the upcoming eighth framework programme we need to secure the resources required to meet these challenges.

Can fusion research attract the attention of sufficient young scientists?

Yes, I think so. In Germany I see an increased interest as a result of ITER. The start of the ITER construction has drawn more students into my university lectures. IPP has no difficulties recruiting young scientists.

What is the role of IPP within European fusion research?

IPP is Europe’s largest fusion research institute with two big experiments that are open to the European fusion community. We have the most modern tokamak experiment that scales directly up to JET and to ITER and is very flexible. We can test operation scenarios for ITER with relatively low effort and transfer potential solutions to JET. Furthermore, we are building the first optimised stellarator in Greifswald, which will start operation in 2014.

How do you judge the EFDA Leader’s plan to start concept studies for a fusion power plant now?

We must think beyond ITER. It is also clear that we cannot spend much in the way of resources on this topic now. Starting out with just a small, effective group within EFDA which