Dennis Whyte

Nuclear Science and Engineering
Effecting positive change 


Professor Dennis Whyte has made community building a top priority. For example, Dennis installed a lounge in the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) where students and scientists can gather to discuss science, relax, and feel more connected with one another. He also hosts open office hours for students where they can freely voice any concerns they have. Dennis has a clear vision for the PSFC and routinely meets with staff and students to ensure that he is in alignment with their needs. One student confirmed, “He has made a significant impact in affecting positive change in the NSE department and the PSFC.”

Dennis is also a caring mentor. Despite taking on multiple time-consuming leadership roles, Dennis still takes the time to regularly meet with his students. One of his students describes, “As my advisor, he takes the time to give excellent feedback at the appropriate times, and knows how to motivate me to do my best.” Dennis makes sure that his students’ contributions to the field are recognized and valued, and is proud of their accomplishments. Heavily involved in student design courses and projects, Dennis’s excellence in teaching has been recognized twice with the Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Dennis Whyte is a leader in the field of fusion research using magnetic confinement of plasmas for energy production. Director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center and the Head of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department (NSE), his work specializes on plasma-surface interactions, magnetic fusion energy, and accelerators and surface analysis. With more than 300 published papers, Dennis has served as leader of the Boundary-Plasma Interface Topical Group of the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He was awarded the U.S. Department of Energy’s Plasma Physics Junior Faculty Award in 2003, and in 2013 he won the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Fusion Prize. In 2015, Dennis was an invited speaker at CERAWeek, the world’s largest energy conference, and the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Distinguished Lecturer.

Dennis exudes positivity, so it is no surprise that he brings this energy for positive change to the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. He is making a lasting impact both in the department and with his individual students. We thank Dennis for his commitment to making MIT the best and most welcoming place it can be.