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JDG completes 2nd executive search for PPPL

JDG and PPPL are pleased to announce the selection of Michael Ford as the new Associate Laboratory Director for Engineering at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

Ford, previously the Strategy Development Director for the Energy and Global Security Directorate at Argonne National Laboratory, will lead an enterprise of more than 200 staff members whose work makes the Lab’s experiments possible.

Ford is active in energy, engineering risk, and environmental policy research. He recently led Phase I of the National Demonstration Reactor Siting Study supporting the National Reactor Innovation Center and is a committee member on the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Study “Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States.” He has ongoing research collaborations with the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focusing on energy system transition alternatives and the development of microreactors.

Prior to joining Argonne, Ford held research positions at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His research at Harvard emphasized advanced reactor research and development in support of energy system decarbonization. He also consulted in energy, environment, and national security policy supporting diverse organizations that included a startup nuclear energy company, the Clean Air Task Force, and the Nuclear Innovation Alliance. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cornell College and a master of science degree in engineering (engineering management) from The Catholic University of America. He earned his Ph.D. in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where he conducted research in the nuclear energy and the environment, with a focus on advanced reactor technology development and proliferation risk. His research has been published in journals such as Nature Energy, Energy Policy, and Risk Analysis. 

Ford is a past Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies Seminar XXI Program, which focuses on national security and international affairs, and is a graduate of the U.S. Joint Forces Staff College. Before his transition to energy research and development, Ford served a career as an officer in the U.S. Navy with specialties in nuclear engineering, resource management, and operations analysis. Retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain, he commanded the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) and deployed to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group Air Defense Commander.

A nuclear operator with decades of light water reactor plant operations experience, he served across a range of complex engineering billets during his active-duty career, from fleet engineering inspector to lead nuclear engineer aboard USS Nimitz. His Nimitz experience involved leadership of an engineering staff of more than 450 responsible for the operation and maintenance of two small modular nuclear reactor plants. He has held senior finance and resource management positions in the U.S. Navy and U.S Joint Staffs, serving for more than seven years in the Pentagon. While there, he developed standards for new warfare systems development and helped lead the Navy Quadrennial Defense Review process.

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