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March 20, 2013

Steven Chu to address commencement

Steven Chu

Steven Chu ’70, Nobel laureate in physics and United States secretary of energy from 2008 to 2013, will deliver the 163rd College commencement address Sunday, May 19.

“I am delighted to welcome back to campus distinguished alumnus Steven Chu,” says President Joel Seligman. “As one of our nation’s leading scientists, Steve has devoted his talent and knowledge to making significant contributions to global energy solutions, and through his leadership and service has advanced our country’s clean energy goals. His achievements are an inspiration to our students, and his commencement address will be enormously meaningful to our graduates and their families. His association with the University is a point of pride for the entire community.”

At the ceremony, Chu will receive the George Eastman Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievement and dedicated service. The medal was created in honor of Eastman, one of the University’s great benefactors and the founder of Eastman Kodak Company.

A member of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2009, Chu earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and in physics from the University in

1970, and a doctorate in physics from the University of California Berkeley, in 1976. He is the recipient of 23 honorary degrees, including an honorary doctor of science degree from Rochester in 1998.

Chu recently announced his intent to step down as U.S. energy secretary to “return to an academic life of teaching and research.” President Barack Obama appointed Chu as energy secretary in December 2008 to help advance the president’s ambitious agenda to invest in clean energy and job creation, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and address the global climate crisis.

He has devoted much of his scientific career to discovering solutions to energy and climate challenges. Prior to his appointment as energy secretary, Chu was director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where he led the lab in pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technologies.

“I am thrilled that Steve has accepted our invitation to deliver the commencement keynote address,” says Richard Feldman, dean of the College. “His distinguished career is uniquely marked by both groundbreaking research and national leadership that has put us on a path forward toward sustainable energy. As an engaged alumnus of the College, he continues to be an inspiration to our students and community.”

Chu was cowinner of the 1997 Nobel Prize, with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips, for developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. His research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics includes tests of fundamental theories in physics, atom interferometry, and the study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Chu was awarded the Science for Art Prize, Herbert Broida Prize trajectory of our interdisciplinary research excellence. Few other academic leaders could wear both hats.”

Chu was cowinner of the 1997 Nobel Prize, with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips, for developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. His research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics includes tests of fundamental theories in physics, atom interferometry, and the study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Chu was awarded the Science for Art Prize, Herbert Broida Prize for Spectroscopy, Richtmeyer Memorial Prize Lecturer, King Faisal International Prize for Science (cowinner), Arthur Schawlow Prize for Laser Science, and William Meggers Award for Laser Spectroscopy.

Additional information about University commencement ceremonies and related activities is available at www.rochester.edu/commencement.

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