Andrew Cole


206 S.W. Mudd
Mail Code 4701

Tel(212) 854-6632

Andrew Cole studies plasma confinement and stability for controlled thermonuclear fusion. 

Research Interests

Plasma physics & nuclear fusion, symmetry-breaking magnetic perturbations, magnetic torques, tearing modes, extended magnetohydrodynamics

In order to harness fusion energy, scientists must maintain a plasma at several million degrees centigrade in a steady state. Cole works to understand plasma behavior – in particular plasma rotation and its influence on plasma modes or instabilities– in order to further this end. Working in support of the Columbia Plasma Physics Laboratory, Cole develops theoretical models to help experimentalists better understand plasma dynamics and avoid instabilities that lead to disruptions and an end to the plasma discharge. Plasma rotation and rotation shear are generally stabilizing agents for plasma dynamics, and applied magnetic torques, generated via current carrying coils external to the plasma, offer an inexpensive means to induce rotation and control plasma stability. Cole works on models of such torques, and how they interact with plasma modes, to help scientists better understand the plasma response to such torques, and their successful use to improve overall plasma stability.

Cole earned his BA in physics and applied mathematics from the University of Oregon in 2000, working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory during his undergraduate summers. He received his PhD in physics in 2006 from the University of Texas and worked at the University of Wisconsin as a postdoctoral fellow, and later, as assistant research scientist. Cole joined Columbia Engineering in 2012.


  • Research scientist, University of Wisconsin
  • Postdoctoral fellow, University of Wisconsin


  • Assistant Professor, Applied Physics, Columbia Engineering, 2012 –