Norman Cao, MIT

Norman Cao

Graduate Student



Norman Cao is a PhD student in the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering working at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center. His research interests are in the broadly in the physics of turbulence and turbulent transport, but he has a particular interest in the development of physics-based reduced models of turbulence. His thesis work is currently focused on identifying the changes in plasma condition and turbulence underlying the LOC/SOC transition and intrinsic rotation reversal, ubiquitous in tokamak plasmas.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, Expected 2020
PhD candidate in Nuclear Science and Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2015
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and Physics, Minor in Mathematics

Awards and Honors

Student Festival Fellow at 9th Festival de Théorie in Aix-en-Provence, France, 2017
U.S. NRC Nuclear Education Graduate Fellowship Recipient, 2016
Inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa Society, 2015
Best Undergraduate Research Project in Computer Science in AeroAstro department, 2015


TA For 22.63 Engineering Principles for Fusion Reactors

Lab Instructor for 2.00b Toy Product Design

TA/Grader for 8.613J/22.611 Introduction to Plasma Physics I

Teacher for MIT Educational Studies Program (ESP)



Cao, N. M., Mier Valdivia, A. M., Rice, J. E. “Applying X-ray Imaging Crystal Spectroscopy for Use as a High Temperature Plasma Diagnostic”. Journal of Visualized Experiments 114, e54408, doi:10.3791/54408 (2016).

Kuang A. Q., Cao N. M., Creely A. J., Dennett C. A., Hecla J., LaBombard B., Tinguely R. A., Tolman E. A., Hoffman H., Major M., Ruiz Ruiz J., Brunner D., Grover P., Laughman C., Sorbom B. N., Whyte D. G., "Conceptual design study for heat exhaust management in the ARC fusion pilot plant". Fusion Engineering and Design, Accepted.

Rice, J. E., Reinke, M. L., Cao, N. M., Hughes, J. W., Ashbourn, J., Ernst, D. R., Hubbard, A. E., Irby, J. H., "Up/down impurity density asymmetries in C-Mod plasmas". Nuclear Fusion 58 126008 (2018)

Houshmandyar, S., Hatch, D. R., Horton, C. W., Liao, K. T., Phillips, P. E., Rowan, W. L., Zhao, B., Cao, N. M., Ernst, D. R., Greenwald, M., "Electron critical gradient scale length measurements of ICRF heated L-mode plasmas at Alcator C-Mod tokamak". Physics of Plasmas 25, 042305 (2018)

Schmidtmayr, M., Hughes, J. W., Ryter, F., Wolfrum, E., Cao, N. M., Creely, A. J., Howard, N., Hubbard, A. E., Lin, Y., Reinke, M. L., "Investigation of the critical edge ion heat flux for LH transitions in Alcator C-Mod and its dependence on BT". Nuclear Fusion 58, 056003 (2018)

Rodriguez-Fernandez, P., White, A. E., Howard, N. T., Grierson, B. A., Staebler, G. M., Rice, J. E., Yuan, X., Cao, N. M., Creely, A. J., Greenwald, M. J., "Explaining Cold-Pulse Dynamics in Tokamak Plasmas Using Local Turbulent Transport Models". Physical review letters 120, 075001 (2018)

Creely, A. J., Howard, N. T., Rodriguez-Fernandez, P., Cao, N. M., Hubbard, A. E., Hughes, J. W., Rice, J. E., White, A. E., Candy, J., Staebler, G. M., "Validation of nonlinear gyrokinetic simulations of L-and I-mode plasmas on Alcator C-Mod". Physics of Plasmas 24, 056104 (2017)

Rice, J. E., Rosmej, F. B., Cao, N. M., Chilenski, M., Howard, N. T., Hubbard, A. E., Hughes, J. W., Irby, J. H., Lin, Y., Rodriguez-Fernandez, P., "X-ray observations of emission from medium Z He-like ions in C-Mod tokamak plasmas". Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 51, 035702 (2018)

Rice, J. E., Hughes, J. W., Diamond, P. H., Cao, N. M., Chilenski, M. A., Hubbard, A. E., Irby, J. H., Kosuga, Y., Lin, Y., Metcalf, I. W., "On the ρ∗ scaling of intrinsic rotation in C-Mod plasmas with edge transport barriers". Nuclear Fusion 57, 116004 (2017)

Rodriguez-Fernandez, P., Rice, J. E., Cao, N. M., Creely, A. J., Howard, N. T., Hubbard, A. E., Irby, J. H., White, A. E., "On the correlation between ‘non-local’effects and intrinsic rotation reversals in Alcator C-Mod". Nuclear Fusion 57, 074001 (2017)