Stephen O. Dean

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Stephen Dean

Stephen O. Dean is an American physicist, nuclear engineer, government manager, association executive and author. He was born May 12, 1936 in Niagara Falls, NY USA and grew up there through high school.

Early life and education[edit]

Dean received his BS in physics from Boston College in 1960, and an SM in nuclear engineering from MIT in 1962. He completed his doctorate in physics from the University of Maryland (1971).[citation needed]


Dean has worked for over 50 years as a scientist and manager on the development of fusion for energy and other applications. After receiving his nuclear engineering degree from MIT in 1962, he joined the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) as a staff physicist in the Controlled Thermonuclear Research (CTR) branch of the Research Division. The CTR branch was responsible for management of the U.S. fusion energy research program[1] (1). In 1966, Dean co-authored the AEC’s Policy and Action Paper on Controlled Thermonuclear Research[2] which, after reviews by the AEC’s General Advisory Committee, the Office of Management and Budget, and the President’s Science Advisory Committee, was sent to the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy by the AEC[3] .

In 1969, Dean transferred to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) as an experimental physicist where, over the next three years, he performed experiments on laser-produced plasmas, published three scientific papers[4] and completed his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Maryland[3] . In February 1972, he received the Naval Research Laboratory Research Publication Award[5].

In early 1972, he returned to AEC and became an Assistant Director of the newly-formed CTR Division[3]. In 1973, he chaired a review panel on the Status and Objectives of Tokamak Systems for Fusion Research[6]. In 1975, the AEC became the US Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA). He became the Director of the (magnetic) Confinement Systems Division, within the newly-established Office of Fusion Energy (OFE) where he led the preparation of the Fusion Power by Magnetic Confinement Program Plan[7] . In 1977, ERDA became the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  In August 1979, Dean left government and co-founded (with Nicholas Krall and Alvin Trivelpiece) Fusion Power Associates, a non-profit scientific research and educational foundation and serves as the association’s president[8].

In 1981, Dean edited the book Prospects for Fusion Power[9] . In 1982, he contributed to the book Nuclear Power: Both Sides, edited by Michio Kaku and Jennifer Trainer[10]. During 1985-1987, he co-led the DOE-commissioned Technical Planning Activity[11]. For that work, in March 1988, he received a DOE Distinguished Associate Award from DOE Secretary of Energy John S. Herrington[12]. In 1987 he was elected Fellow of the American Nuclear Society (ANS)[13].

Dean served as a member of the DOE Fusion Energy Advisory Committee (FEAC) 1991-1994. In 1992, he led a FEAC study on Concept Improvement[14]. In 1995, he served on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development[15]. In 2002, he authored an article “Fifty Years of Fusion Research” in the American Nuclear Society magazine Nuclear News.[16]. In 2003, he served on a subpanel of the DOE Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) to prepare a new fusion program plan[17]. In 2011, he authored Chapter 31, “Historical Origins and Development of Fusion Research” in the Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia.[18]. In 2013, he published his book Search for the Ultimate Energy Source – A History of the U.S. Fusion Energy Program[19]. In January 2017 he did an interview with journalist Miles O’Brien, a portion of which aired on the PBS NewsHour[20]. In September 2017 he did a podcast interview for Episode 20 of the Energy-Cast series[21].


  1. ^ Bishop, Amasa S. (1960). Project Sherwood; the U.S. program in controlled fusion. Prepared for the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Anchor Books. LCCN 60000041.
  2. ^ AEC Policy and Action Paper on Controlled Thermonuclear Research. AEC Report TID-23277; posted; also published in J. Fusion Energy 30. 207-237 (2011).
  3. ^ a b c Bromberg, Joan Lisa (1982). Fusion : science, politics, and the invention of a new energy source. MIT Press. pp. 139–142, 199–200. ISBN 0262021803. LCCN 82010039.
  4. ^ American Physical Society, Physical Review Letters [] . 26,1012 (1971); 27,487 (1971); 29,569)1972.
  5. ^ PDF of 1972 NRL Research Publication Award.
  6. ^ Status and Objective of Tokamak Systems for Fusion Research. AEC report WASH-1295 (1974); posted at
  7. ^ Fusion Power by Magnetic Confinement Program Plan. ERDA 76-110 (July 1976); posted at; also published in J. of Fusion Energy 17.263 (1998).
  8. ^
  9. ^ Dean, Stephen O. (1980). Prospects for fusion power. New York : Pergamon Press. ISBN 0080280463. LCCN 81012078.
  10. ^ Kaku and Trainer, Michio and Jennifer (1982). "Chapter 6 'Closing in on Fusion'". Nuclear power, both sides : the best arguments for and against the most controversial technology. New York: Norton. ISBN 0393016315. LCCN 82006426.
  11. ^ Technical Planning Activity Final Report – Prepared for the Office of Fusion Energy U.S. Department of Energy, ANL/FPP-87-1; posted at
  12. ^ PDF of DOE 1988 Distinguished Career Award.
  13. ^ PDF of ANS Fellow designation certificate.
  14. ^ Concept Improvement – A Report to the Fusion Energy Advisory Committee by FEAC Panel 3, May 11, 1992; posted at
  15. ^ Final Report of the Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development June 1995; posted at
  16. ^ Stephen O. Dean, “Fifty Years of Fusion Research – An Overview of Programs” Nuclear News, American Nuclear Society Vol 45, No. 8 (July 2002) pp 34-40;
  17. ^ A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy, DOE/SC-0074, March 5, 2003; posted at
  18. ^ Krivit, Lehr, Kingery, Steven B., Jay H., Thomas B., ed. (2011). "31 Historical Origins and Development of Fusion Research". Nuclear energy encyclopedia : science, technology, and applications. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. p. 367. ISBN 9780470894392.
  19. ^ Dean, Stephen O. (2013). Search for the ultimate energy source : a history of the U.S. fusion energy program. New York: Springer. ISBN 9781461460367. LCCN 2012952107.
  20. ^ Interview with reporter Miles O’Brien for PBS NewsHour.
  21. ^ Energy Cast Podcast. "Episode 20 | Futuristic Fusion | Fusion Power Associates."