Dr. Steven Chu, distinguished scientist and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1997), was appointed by President Obama as the 12th Secretary of Energy and sworn into office on January 21, 2009.
Dr. Chu has devoted his recent scientific career to the search for new solutions to our energy challenges and stopping global climate change – a mission he continues with even greater urgency as Secretary of Energy. He is charged with helping implement President Obama’s ambitious agenda to invest in alternative and renewable energy, end our addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions of new jobs.
Prior to his appointment, Dr. Chu was director of DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and professor of Physics and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California. He successfully applied the techniques he developed in atomic physics to molecular biology, and since 2004, motivated by his deep interest in climate change, he has recently led the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories.
Professor Chu’s research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics includes tests of fundamental theories in physics, the development of methods to laser cool and trap atoms, atom interferometry, and the manipulation and study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level. While at Stanford, he helped start Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary initiative that brings together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine.
Secretary Chu is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academica Sinica, the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology and numerous other civic and professional organizations. He received an A.B. degree in mathematics, a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Rochester, a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley as well as honorary degrees from 10 universities. Chu was born in Saint Louis, Missouri on February 28, 1948. He is married to Dr. Jean Chu, who holds a D.Phil. in Physics from Oxford and has served as chief of staff to two Stanford University presidents as well as Dean of Admissions. Secretary Chu has two grown sons, Geoffrey and Michael, by a previous marriage.
In announcing Dr. Chu’s selection on December 15, 2008, President Obama said, “the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy… Steven has blazed new trails as a scientist, teacher, and administrator, and has recently led the Berkeley National Laboratory in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies. He is uniquely suited to be our next Secretary of Energy as we make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission.”