University of Rochester

Rochester Trustee Steven Chu Named Next Energy Secretary

December 15, 2008

Steven Chu, a Nobel physics laureate and a trustee and alumnus of the University of Rochester, has been named by President-elect Barack Obama as the next energy secretary. Chu earned his bachelor's degrees in mathematics and in physics from the University of Rochester in 1970, and his doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1976.

In 1999, Chu became a trustee of the University of Rochester, and currently serves on the Committee on Academic Affairs and the Committee on Health Affairs.

"Steven 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," said Obama. "The scientists at our national labs will have a distinguished peer at the helm. His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science. We will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action.

"Some say we have to concentrate exclusively on re-establishing the health of the economy," said Chu. "I look forward to being part of the president-elect's team, which believes that we must repair the economy and put us on a path forward towards sustainable energy," the acclaimed scientist said.

At the University's 2006 Meliora Weekend, Chu helped convene an international panel of experts to discuss the future of the world's energy needs, the environmental and economic effects of energy development, and the prospects for sustainable energy. Chu said that global climate change and its irreversible damage is one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.

"How do you actually get to where you want to get? You can't conserve your way to a solution," Chu said. "We have to figure this one out. We can't sit and wait."

"All of us at the University of Rochester are thrilled that Steven Chu may be the next Secretary of Energy. In recent years he has focused his efforts on helping solve the nation's energy challenge in Berkeley's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory," said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. "He is the right person to lead our nation's efforts to create a wiser and more diverse energy base in the 21st century."

Peter Lennie, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at the University of Rochester said of Chu: "Steven Chu is one of the world's most distinguished scientists, an unusually wise and thoughtful trustee and alumnus of the University of Rochester, and a scholar whose great breadth and knowledge of energy and scientific research make him a brilliant choice to become Secretary of the Department of Energy."

"Obama's choice of Steven Chu is outstanding," said Nick Bigelow, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester. "Since he was a student at Rochester his insight, enthusiasm and gifts for science have been abundantly clear. For those who don't know Steve, what is especially wonderful is that at a time when energy is such an important issue for the nation and the world, we will have brilliant and resourceful leader in the Department of Energy."

Chu is the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and as energy secretary he will be responsible for developing policy related to energy issues such as global warming. Chu shared his 1997 Nobel Prize with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light." He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Sinica. He is also a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology.