2014-2015 Speakers


Steven Chu


U.S. Secretary of Energy (2009-2013), Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist & Professor, Stanford University

November 5, 2014
7 p.m.
Tilson Auditorium


A distinguished physicist, innovative professor and the first science laureate to serve as U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu offers audiences insight on our energy future—and how advances in science are the key to solving our most confounding global issues.

A forward-thinking visionary, Dr. Steven Chu’s sharp focus on research during his time as secretary of energy transformed the agency by bringing science to the forefront of America’s clean energy policy. A holder of 10 patents and the first science laureate to serve as Cabinet secretary, Chu was a top science advisor to President Barack Obama. The President tasked Chu to use his scientific skills to assist BP in stopping the massive Gulf oil leak and to assist the government of Japan in dealing with the tsunami-damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactors. Under his leadership, the Department of Energy was also asked to make initial recommendations on how the U.S. could develop environmentally responsible methods to tap our natural gas and oil resources with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. Chu was lauded as secretary for his scientific brilliance and accessible easygoing style. He was personally responsible for identifying and recruiting numerous outstanding scientists and engineers to join the march toward a sustainable energy future built on developing cutting-edge technologies aimed at reducing the U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. He played a pivotal role in the initiation and development of ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy), a program that focuses on high-risk, high-reward energy research that could lead to game-changing innovations. While Secretary of Energy, Chu also began Energy Innovation Hubs that have also received wide support from the industry and academia. The Hubs large, multi-disciplinary, multi-investigator, multi-institutional integrated research centers, with a focus on bridging the gap between scientific breakthroughs and industrial commercialization. Modeled after AT&T’s Bell Laboratories and the Manhattan Project, hubs focusing on Transportation Fuels from Sunlight; Energy Efficient Buildings; Modeling and Simulation for Nuclear Reactors; Batteries and Energy Storage; and Critical Materials have been started. A sixth Hub focusing on electricity systems and challenges to grid modernization has also been proposed. Chu was formerly Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University and a program head at AT&T Bell Laboratories. His work in laser cooling and trapping was honored as co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. Steven Chu returned to Stanford in April 2013 as the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the medical school, and where he has resumed his research in biophysics and biomedicine. He also continues his work on solving the country’s energy problems by focusing on new pathways to sustainable, carbon dioxide-neutral energy. From climate change to solar power, Chu discusses with audiences why continued research and the transition to clean energy is absolutely mandatory and how technological innovation can secure a prosperous future for the U.S. and globally.


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