12th Secretary of Energy, United States
Steven Chu recently returned to Stanford University as the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the medical school.
From January 2009 until April 2013, Chu served as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy during President Obama's administration. Prior to his Cabinet post, he was the Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Professor of Physics and of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California Berkeley and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University. Previous to those posts, he was with AT&T Bell Laboratories. During Chu’s time in the Obama cabinet, the DOE had an annual budget of approximately $26 billion and was entrusted an additional $36 B through the Recovery Act. Under his leadership, DOE began ARPA-E, the Energy Innovation Hubs, the Clean Energy Ministerial and helped double the deployment of renewable energy in the U.S.
ARPA-E (Advances Research Projects Agency – Energy) began as a vision described in Rising Above the Gathering Storm. As a member of that committee, Chu testified for its authorization in Congress and then turned the concept into reality. ARPA-E was created to nurture high-risk, high reward energy technologies that would swing for game-changing home runs instead of incremental improvements. The new agency within the DOE quickly garnered a reputation for its outstanding funding choices and incisive program management. As the first scientist to head the DOE, Chu personally helped identify and recruit a number of outstanding scientists and engineers into government service. He worked to create a more Bell labs-like culture where DOE employees are valued by their intellectual curiosity and the content of their ideas.
Chu is the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1997) for his contributions to the laser cooling and trapping of atoms. His other areas of research include tests of fundamental theories in physics, atom interferometry, the study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level and biomedical research. While at Stanford, he helped start Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary initiative that brings together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine.
Chu remains committed to mitigating climate change through the development of new technologies and business models that will accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. He is distinctive in his breadth of interdisciplinary research and his international experience as a leader in the federal government. He remains active on both fronts and is acknowledged as a pioneer in both science and energy policy.
The holder of 10 patents, Chu has published 250 scientific and technical papers. Chu is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Academia Sinica and is a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology,Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Honorary Member of the Optical Society of America. He earned an A.B.
degree in mathematics, a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley and has been awarded 23 honorary degrees.