Fulbright recipient heading to Germany to work for top fusion research center

May 10, 2022

Mizzou Made: Image of Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship that will send him to Germany after he graduates this month. There, he’ll work at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, one of Europe’s leading fusion research centers.

No doubt, his experiences at Mizzou have prepared him for the job. The research he conducted around nuclear fusion in Professor Karl Hammond’s lab. His internship at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he designed electromagnetic coils for a type of fusion reactor known as a stellarator. A couple of corporate internships that showed him a different side of his major.

But it was Engineers Without Borders that altered his course. Lee served as treasurer, then president of the Mizzou chapter and traveled with the group to Panama.

“Engineers Without Borders is a non-profit organization that offers engineering services to underserved communities overseas,” he said. “The objective of the trip I went on was to help install a water pipeline in a rural community. The experience was amazing. I lived in a remote jungle, and the people were wonderful. I think that really helped me get interested in international and multicultural experiences.”

Lee will earn bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and physics. At the IPP, he will study ways that stellarators can expel impurities under experimental conditions in hopes of improving current technologies and making nuclear fusion a viable, clean and safe energy source.

“The IPP is arguably the best place in the world to carry out this project, and it will help shore up one of the most concerning shortcomings of stellarators and bring them one step closer to viability for commercial power generation,” Lee said.

While in Germany, he also plans to participate in cultural and outdoor activities, take language classes and volunteer in outreach efforts to immerse himself.

His Fulbright will end in July 2023, after which time, he plans to return to the U.S. to pursue a PhD in plasma physics. Ultimately, Lee wants to work for a national lab.

In addition to the Fulbright Scholarship, Lee has been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, the Tau Beta Pi Scholarship, the University of Missouri Award for Academic Distinction and an Outstanding Poster Award from the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics. He’s also presented his work and authored papers.

Lee credits Mizzou for giving him opportunities to collaborate, conduct research and customize his education.

“I’m grateful to my mentors, Dr. Hammond and Dr. Paul Chan in engineering and Dr. Sergei Kopeikin and Dr. Silvia Bompadre in the Department of Physics,” he said. “They were really wonderful and helped me a lot. There are a lot of good people here, and you can find great opportunities. I would recommend Mizzou.”

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MU is looking for next year’s Fulbright candidates. If you are interested in graduate study, research or teaching English abroad, visit the Fellowships and Advanced Studies Fulbright advising page to learn how you can apply.