Elena Righi-Steele is head of unit for Euratom Research in the Directorate Clean Planet of DG Research and Innovation in the European Commission.
Born in Milano in 1965, Elena trained as a plasma physicist at the Università di Milano and Imperial College London, specialising in propagation and absorption of radio waves in plasmas, and working for more than ten years in the field of thermonuclear fusion.
A theoretician at first, she subsequently became increasingly involved as Session Leader in experiments and operations of the JET tokamak in Culham (UK), including the DTE1 campaign, and as RF physicist responsible for the plasma engineering of the heating systems for ITER at the NET Team (subsequently the EFDA Close Support Unit) in Garching (DE). Professionally she therefore became a communicating link between the theoretical and experimental communities in fusion plasma physics, understanding the requirements, language and limitations of both.
Subsequently she moved to the Research Infrastructures Unit of DG RTD in the European Commission, where she managed contracts in the fields of radio astronomy, astrophysics, astroparticle physics, space and inertial fusion. She also followed the development of the research infrastructures policy for International Cooperation and Global Research Infrastructures as part of the Secretariat of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures.
In 2014, she moved to the ITER Unit of the European Commission as deputy head of unit, going back to her professional roots, supporting the management of the EU budget for the construction of ITER. In 2017, she became Head of Fusion Energy Research, and currently she is Head of Euratom Research in DG Research and Innovation, overseeing all aspects of nuclear research and innovation, including fusion energy and fission-related aspects and related policy.