Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

John Bryan Taylor
Culham Laboratory


"For ground breaking research, distinguished by its ingenuity and clarity, in such topics as: relaxation theory, transport, finite Larmor radius effects, the minimum-B concept, adiabatic invariance, the standard map, bootstrap currents, the ballooning representation, and confinement scaling laws."


Bryan ("J. B.") Taylor received his BSc (1950) and his Ph.D. (1955) from Birmingham University. From 1950 - 1952, he served in the Royal Air Force. In 1955 he joined the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment Aldermaston and in 1962 moved to Culham Laboratory, where he became Chief Physicist. He was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, (1959 - 1960) and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1969, 1973, and 1980 - 1981). In 1989 he was appointed Fondren Professor of Plasma Theory at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Taylor introduced an important theorem on the Earth's dynamo and discovered the stable plasma equilibria in "Minimum B" magnetic fields. He initiated the study of chaos in magnetic surfaces, introducing the "Chirikov-Taylor" standard map. He pioneered the study of 2D-plasmas, showing their intrinsic Bohm diffusion and their negative temperature behavior, and played a major part in developing the "ballooning transformation" for toroidal plasmas. However, perhaps his most celebrated contribution is the introduction of plasma relaxation theory, which combines plasma turbulence and magnetic helicity to predict, from first principles, many features of plasma behavior.

Dr. Taylor was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1970, received the Maxwell Medal from the Institute of Physics (1971) and the Max Born Medal from the German Physical Society (1979). He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and recipient of its 1986 Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics.

Selection Committee:

Philip J Morrison (Chair), Michael H. Key, Clifford Surko, Jeffrey Friedberg (Vice Chair), Szymon Suckewer