Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


R Paul Drake
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R Paul Drake

Henry S. Carhart Collegiate Professor of Space Sciences

Director, Center for Laser Experimental Astrophysics Research

Phone: (734) 763-4072
Fax: (734) 647-3083


Ph.D., M.S., Physics, Johns Hopkins University

B.A., Philosophy & Physics, Vanderbilt University

Graduated Doctoral Students

  • Keith S. Bradley (UC Davis) 1992 (Staff Member, LLNL)
  • Kevin L. Baker 1995 (UC Davis) (Staff Member, LLNL)
  • Steven H. Bekhor 2002
  • Timothy B. Smith 2003 (Research Scientist, Michigan)
  • Paul Kominsky 2007 (Lecturer, Michigan)
  • Amy B. Reighard 2007 (Scientist, Naval Surface Warfare Center)
  • Carolyn C. Kuranz 2009 (Research Scientist, Michigan)
  • Eric C. Harding 2010 (Staff scientist, SNL)
  • Forrest Doss 2011 (Staff scientist, LANL)
  • Tony Visco 2012 (Staff scientist, Alliant Techsystems)
  • Channing Huntington 2012 (Staff Scientist, LLNL)
  • Jason Chou 2012 (Programmer)
  • Christine Krauland 2013 (Postdoctoral Fellow, UC San Diego)
  • Eliseo Gamboa 2013 (Postdoctoral Fellow, SLAC)
  • Carlos DiStefano 2014 (Postdoctoral Fellow, LANL)


Experimental, theoretical and computer-simulation of laboratory, space and astrophysical plasmas

Personal Introduction

Dr. Drake was featured in the BBC's documentary Hyperspace (2001) and the Discovery Channel's Engineering the Universe (2009).

Specializations and Research Interests

  • High Energy Density Physics
  • Experimental astrophysics; nonlinear hydrodynamics and radiation hydrodynamics
  • Plasma waves in interplanetary and interstellar space

Honors, Awards and Accomplishments

  • Authored the first textbook in High-Energy-Density Physics (Springer, 2006)
  • More than 230 refereed publications
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Vanderbilt University, 1975
  • Elected Fellow, American Physical Society, 1989
  • Distinguished Lecturer in Plasma Physics, Division of Plasma Physics, American Physical Society, 2003
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentorship UROP 2003
  • Departmental Research Excellence Award, 2009
  • Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, Rackham Graduate School, 2013
  • Ted Kennedy Family Faculty Team Excellence Award, 2014
  • Director, Center for Radiative Shock Hydrodynamics, 2008-2014
  • Director, Space Physics Research Laboratory, University of Michigan, 1998-2002
  • Director, Plasma Physics Research Institute at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and UC-Davis, 1989 - 1996
  • Pioneer in the new area of experimental astrophysics, aimed at improving understanding of astrophysical dynamics through laboratory research
  • Numerous designs of experiments relevant to astrophysics
  • Numerous first observations and theoretical discoveries in the area of laser-driven plasma instabilities
  • Groundbreaking studies of confinement and impurities in magnetic fusion using mirror machines

Professional Service

  • Member, 2004 Fellowship Committee, Divison of Plasma Physics, American Physical Society
  • Member, Plasmas Advisory Council for Large-Axis Plasma Device User Facility (UCLA) Physics Advisory Committee, Center for Magnetic Self-Organization in Laboratory and Astrophysical
  • Member, Executive Committee, University Fusion Association, 2002-2004
  • Member, Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship Committee, 2007
  • Member, Working Group on Laboratory Astrophysics, American Astronomical Society, 2007- 2012
  • Member, Women in Plasma Physics Committee of the American Physical Society, 2008 - 2011
  • Member, Physics Advisory Council, Center for Self-Organization in Magnetized Plasmas, 2005-2008
  • Member, Advisory Council for UCLA's LAPD User Facility, 2000-2008
  • Member, High Energy Density (Betti) Report Subcommittee, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, 2008
  • External member, JASONS review of National Ignition Campaign, January 2009
  • Member, Facilities Funding and Programs Study Group of the NRC Decadal Survey Astronomy & Astrophysics 2010, 2009
  • Chapter Lead, DOE Research Needs Workshop (ReNeW) on High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, 2009-2010
  • Member, Weapons Science Review Committee, Los Alamos National Lab, 2008-2014
  • Chair, Working Group on Laboratory Astrophysics, Amer. Astro. Society, 2010-2011
  • Member, Koonin Committee for review of progress in the National Ignition Campaign, Oct. 2010- 2012
  • Steering committee member, DOE Office of Science Workshop on Basic Research Directions at the National Ignition Facility, May 2011
  • Member, Executive Committee to initiate the Laboratory Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, 2012-
  • Member, Proposal Review Committee for the Linear Coherent Light Source, 2013-
  • Member, LMJ-PETAL Basic Science Review Committee, 2014
  • Member, Executive Committee, Omega Laser Users Group, 2008-present
  • Member, Executive Committee, National Ignition Facility Users Group, 2012-present
  • Member, Editorial Board, High Energy Density Physics, The Journal, 2008 - present.
  • Member, Editorial Board, Physics of Plasmas, 2014-2018
  • Extensive service to the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society
  • Served on organizing committee or as chair of numerous major scientific conferences

Professional Memberships

  • American Physical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Astronomical Society
Updated: 2017-11-14