Alys Brett

Data and Coding Team Leader, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy


I’m a software developer and scientific data specialist with a Physics background. My interests include: data analysis and visualisation, software development practices (Git, TDD, Agile etc) collaboration between scientists and software engineers, fundamental Physics, fusion, open source, cultural and equality issues in STEM, harnessing technology and the internet for social/environmental good.


I work on JET - the world’s foremost nuclear fusion experiment. Fusion is the process that powers the sun, and it has huge potential to meet the world's energy needs in the future, but a lot of research and development is needed to get us to the point where commercial power stations are possible.

I lead a team of software developers in support of fusion researchers. We create and support data infrastructure and tools for physicists and engineers. Our database and software systems cover the whole pipeline from raw data to high level analysis and visualisation.

I’m responsible for a database containing extracts of experimental data from every JET plasma experiment. Web and Python interfaces to the data are being developed to allow scientists to build up a custom dataset according to criteria they define, and save or share their dataset definitions so the dataset can be recreated with the latest version of the data. This makes long range statistical analysis faster and more accessible, and should reduce the need for manually constructed, private datasets.

Another system I wrote provides a live summary of the progress of the current experimental session on a large screen at the front of the JET control room. It is used for monitoring progress locally and by remote collaborators around the world.

I sometimes take part in experimental work, doing control room shifts configuring real time control algorithms before each plasma “pulse”.

I have a remit to promote better software development practices throughout the organisation. I jointly organise our software development training programme and I've been leading the initiative to adopt GitLab as our version control system.

I take an interest in policy areas such as software development careers, increasing the proportion of women in STEM areas, and promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing.

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