Rachael McDermott grew up in the USA and earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Saint Louis University. She received her PhD in plasma physics and fusion technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009 with a thesis on the relationship between electric fields and enhanced plasma confinement in the Alcator C-Mod tokamak. After her PhD, Dr McDermott worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, where she developed new diagnostic methods for studying ASDEX upgrade plasmas and focused on understanding the turbulence-induced self-rotation observed in ASDEX upgrade experiments. In 2013, she took over the leadership of a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group with the topic "Macroscopic effects of microturbulence in fusion plasmas", expanding her scientific interest to the role of impurities in fusion plasmas. From 2022, she led the Active Spectroscopy group at IPP. Dr McDermott is an active member of the international fusion community and has held leadership positions in the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) and the European Transport Taskforce (TTF). She has been Director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics since 1 February 2023.