Nobel Laureate Physicist Steve Chu Named Next U.S. Energy Secretary

APS Lauds President-Elect Obama’s Choice of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director, World Energy Research Leader

By Tawanda W. Johnson


Steven ChuCourtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Steve Chu

The American Physical Society (APS) is elated that President-Elect Obama has nominated Nobel Laureate Steve Chu, a renowned physicist, a world leader in alternative and renewable energy research and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory director, as the next U.S. Energy Secretary.

“Dr. Chu is a man of great intellect whose scientific accomplishments make him an outstanding selection for U.S. Energy Secretary. As the Obama administration develops its energy policy, Dr. Chu will be an effective leader in marshaling basic and applied research to strengthen U.S. energy security and tackle the devastating effects of global warming,” said APS President Arthur Bienenstock.

Chu was the recipient of two prestigious APS prizes, the Herbert P. Broida in 1987 and Arthur L. Schawlow in 1994, for his extraordinary work of developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. In 1997 while at Stanford University, Chu was one of three scientists to win the Nobel Prize in physics for that same work. Since 2004, he has served as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which has 4,000 employees and a budget of $650 million.

Under his leadership, the lab has become a center for research into biofuels and solar energy technologies. A lifetime member and fellow of APS, Chu has been a staunch advocate of energy efficiency and alternative energy research, stating that the U.S. should rid its dependence on foreign oil to combat global warming.

He was also the driving force behind the development of the Energy Biosciences Institute, a $500 million pact between BP, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley National Lab and the University of Illinois. Additionally, he was the leading organizer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, one of three Bioenergy Research Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.