Dr. Michael Ford is the associate laboratory director for engineering at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). In this role, Ford leads the pursuit of PPPL’s mission to develop advanced fusion engineering knowledge and techniques and is responsible for all engineering support throughout the lab. Ford previously served as the strategy development director for the Energy and Global Security Directorate at the Argonne National Laboratory. There, he helped develop strategies designed to build increased sponsor support for energy and national security related research. His efforts at Argonne spanned research in energy systems, transportation, artificial intelligence, non-proliferation, and decision science. Ford is active in energy, engineering risk, and environmental policy research and led Phase I of the National Demonstration Reactor Siting Study supporting the National Reactor Innovation Center.
Ford has also held research positions at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. His research at Harvard emphasized advanced reactor research and development policy in support of energy system decarbonization. He also consulted in energy, environment, and national security policy supporting diverse organizations such as the Clean Air Task Force, Nuclear Innovation Alliance, and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.
Dr. Ford served a full career as an officer in the U.S. Navy and held Navy subspecialties in nuclear engineering, resource management, and operations analysis. During his time on active duty, CAPT (Ret) Ford commanded the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) and served as lead nuclear engineer (reactor officer) aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN 68). He has decades of light water reactor operating experience and was a member of the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board. Ashore, he held senior finance and resource management positions on the U.S. Navy and U.S Joint Staffs at the Pentagon. In these positions, he developed standards for new warfare systems development and helped lead the Navy Quadrennial Defense Review process.
Ford earned his Ph.D. in engineering (engineering and public policy) at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a past Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies Seminar XXI Program, which focuses on national security and international affairs.