News from EUROfusion, Members and Partners

Fusion communicators inspired by WEST and ITER

At EUROfusion's annual FuseCOM meeting from 20-22 March 2024, 23 fusion communicators and 8 science journalists visited the ITER and CEA fusion facilities near Aix-en-Provence, France. Participants unanimously praised the visit for helping them understand and explain the immense scale of fusion science.

Instead of doodling in the margins, writers draft news snippets during a lecture. And so it goes when French journalists Damien Frossard and Sèverine Battesti-Pardini explain to 23 European fusion communicators what topics and even order of information a journalist is looking for in news pitches. On screens and notebooks, headlines immediately appear that follow the journalists’ guidelines.

This media relations training was only part of the annual meeting of FuseCOM, EUROfusion’s network of European fusion communicators. The network includes former journalists and people with a communication background, as well as fusion PhD students and career scientists who run their lab’s communications activities alongside their research positions.

For me, as a communicator in science, it's so helpful to see with my own eyes what I'm writing about at DIFFER and what many of my colleagues are working on.

From 20-22 March 2024, the group convened at the picturesque Château de Cadarache in southern France. Here, in what will be the remote control building for the joint European-Japanese tokamak JT-60SA, they learned about new public-private fusion initiatives by the European Commission, shared experiences and got within touching distance of the world’s most advanced fusion experiment. For many, this meeting was their first opportunity to visit the ITER and neighbouring CEA facilities, the latter being the French EUROfusion member and the meeting’s host.

The days were filled with interesting talks, exchange of experiences and exciting discussions about communication in the field of fusion energy. Thanks to all my FuseCOM colleagues for many inspiring conversations!

The communicators were joined on their site visits by 8 European journalists for an interview with ITER’s Director-General Pietro Barabaschi and a tour of the impressive ITER worksite. The afternoon was reserved for the CEA Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research IRFM, located right next to ITER, where the group witnessed 50 million Celsius plasmas inside the superconducting WEST tokamak during an ongoing experimental campaign.

No break

Summarising the annual meeting on LinkedIn, Frank Fleschner, Head of Communications at the German Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics and former science journalist, wrote:

“You cannot not be impressed by ITER. Our ITER colleagues told us that visitors sometimes burst into tears when they see the gigantic dimensions of the components. Here in Cadarache in southern France, 35 nations are working together to create the largest nuclear fusion facility in the world.”

A visit to the ITER site gives an idea of the gigantic scale of the project, as well as the finesse and beauty of many of the details.

Fusion communication network

FuseCOM, EUROfusion’s network for fusion communicators from member and partner organisations across Europe and beyond, boasts 77 members. They meet annually, participate in monthly video conferences on specialist communications topics, and receive a weekly newsletter covering developments in fusion and science communication.

Additionally, FuseCOM collaborates on joint projects like the EUROfusion media library and the February 2024 media release on the new fusion energy record set by collaborative EUROfusion experiments at the Joint European Torus (JET).

Photos courtesy of Frank Fleschner (IPP), Sylvie Gibert (CEA – IRFM), Tamás Szabolics (HUN – REN) and Yves Martin (EPFL – SPC).

Share the Post:

You may also enjoy these articles: