The UK fusion specialist Ian Chapman has been named the next CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). On 1 October he will succeed Steve Cowley, who has been head of the authority since 2009 and will also become president of Corpus Christi College at Oxford University. As UKAEA head, he will lead the UK's magnetic confinement fusion research programme at the Culham Science Centre near Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

He will oversee the upgrade of the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak, which is set to be ready in 2017, as well as the operation of the Joint European Torus (JET) – one of the world's largest nuclear fusion devices (currently at risk of losing its European funding due to Brexit). He will also lead the UKAEA's other activities at Culham, including the recently opened Materials Research Facility, the RACE robotics centre and the Oxford Advanced Skills apprentice training facility.

Chapman began working at Culham in 2004 while completing a PhD with Imperial College London. In 2014 he became head of tokamak science at Culham and then became fusion programme manager in 2015. His future task will not be easy. The European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, which is jointly run by 26 European member states and Switzerland, funds JET's experiments. Cash for this is secure until 2018, but it is uncldear what will happen after that.