Nathaniel Hicks

Nathaniel Hicks

Assistant Professor
Department of Physics & Astronomy


  • Ph.D., Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2006
    • Dissertation title: Symmetric Neutralized Ion Beams: Production, Acceleration, Propagation, and Applications.
  • M.S., Physics, University of California, Lost Angeles, 2000
  • B.S., Physics, Washington State University, 1998
    • Honors College
    • Magna Cum Laude

Teaching Responsibilities

  • PHYS A123 Basic Physics I
  • PHYS A413 Statistical & Thermal Physics

Research Interests

Experimental and computational plasma, beam, and accelerator physics; plasma diagnostics; fusion energy.

Please see my ResearchGate page for further information.

My research as a physicist has focused on producing innovations in fusion energy science. I am principally an experimentalist, but also do extensive computational work as it suits the topic.  In my Ph.D. work at UCLA, I studied a new type of ion beam (composed of both positive and negative ions), as well as a means to accelerate such a beam and the physics of beam transport across a magnetic field:
As a post-doc in the ASDEX Upgrade (AUG) tokamak group in Garching, Germany, I worked in the mainstream of the international magnetic confinement fusion effort, and was responsible for operation and physics analysis of electron cyclotron emission (ECE) diagnostic data. With my colleagues, I integrated ECE into the real-time diagnostic loop for detection of neoclassical tearing modes (NTMs):
During a US Dept. of Energy Fusion Post-doc Fellowship at the University of Washington, I explored measurement of the internal magnetic field in the relatively low-field, high density HIT-SI spheromak plasma. A novel polarimeter diagnostic was designed: 
I am continuing the polarimeter development here at UAA, as well as continuing to explore other fusion and plasma diagnostic topics and topics in RF plasma sheaths and ion beams.  I focus on fusion energy because of its great potential to benefit society by providing clean, virtually limitless energy. In considering the ramifications of transformative science like fusion, I have also developed an interest in studying energy policy scenarios that ensure that the advent of fusion energy occurs in a way that is truly beneficial to the peoples and natural environment of the world and is not exploitative or destructive.


Full list of publications available at ResearchGate 

Selected Publications:

"Disruption Mitigation: 3D MHD Simulations and Experimental Validation", S. Woodruff, N. K. Hicks, D. A. Ennis, J. E. Stuber, K. J. McCollam,E. M. Hollman, J. Titus, Conf. Proc: Exploratory Plasma Research (2013)

"Imposed-Dynamo Current Drive", T. R. Jarboe, B. S. Victor, B. A. Nelson, C. J. Hansen, C. Akcay, D. A. Ennis, N. K. Hicks, A. C. Hossack, G. J. Marklin, and R. J. Smith, Nucl. Fusion 53, 083017 (2012)

"A single-probe-beam double-heterodyne polarimeter-interferometer for plasma Faraday rotation measurements," J. Howard, J. Muir, F. Glass, N. Hicks, Journal of Instrumentation 7, P07009 (2012) doi:10.1088/1748-0221/7/07/P0700

"Evidence for Separatrix Formation and Sustainment with Steady Inductive Helicity Injection", B. S. Victor, T. R. Jarboe, A. C. Hossack, D. A. Ennis, B. A. Nelson, R. J. Smith, C. Akcay, C. J. Hansen, G. J. Marklin, N. K. Hicks, and J. S. Wrobel, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 165005 (2011)

"Fast-ion losses induced by ACs and TAEs in the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak", M. García-Muñoz , N. Hicks, R. van Voornveld, I. G. J. Classen, R. Bilato, V. Bobkov, M. Brambilla, M. Brüdgam, H. U. Fahrbach, V. Igochine, S. Jaemsae, M. Maraschek, K. Sassenberg, ASDEX Upgrade Team,  Nuc. Fusion  50, 8 (2010) doi:10.1088/0029-5515/50/8/084004

"Fast Sampling Upgrade and Real Time NTM Control Application of the ECE Radiometer on ASDEX Upgrade", N. K. Hicks, W.Suttrop, K. Behler, S. Cirant, G. d'Antona, M. García-Muñoz, L. Giannone, M. Maraschek, G. Raupp, M. Reich, A.C.C. Sips, J. Stober, W. Treutterer, F. Volpe, and the ASDEX Upgrade Team, Fusion Sci. Tech. 57, 1 (2010)

"Convective and Diffusive Energetic Particle Losses Induced by Shear Alfvén Waves in the ASDEX Upgrade Tokamak", M. García-Muñoz, N. Hicks, R. van Voornveld, I. G. J. Classen, R. Bilato, V. Bobkov, M. Bruedgam, H. U. Fahrbach, V. Igochine, S. Jaemsae, M. Maraschek, K. Sassenberg, ASDEX Upgrade Team, Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 18 (2010) doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.185002