U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu named honorary degree recipient

HERSHEY, Pa. -- U.S. Secretary of Energy, distinguished scientist and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu will receive an honorary doctor of science degree from Penn State. The University’s Board of Trustees today (March 16) approved Chu as a recipient, who will receive the degree and deliver a keynote address during commencement ceremonies at University Park on May 5.

Chu, the former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997. Before his time at the University of California, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories. He has devoted his recent scientific career to the search for new solutions to energy challenges and stopping global climate change.

As U.S. Secretary of Energy, Chu is charged with helping to implement President Barack Obama's goals to invest in clean energy, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, address global climate change, and create jobs in the energy sector. He was sworn in as the 12th secretary of energy on Jan. 21, 2009.

The holder of 10 patents, Chu has published nearly 250 scientific and technical papers. Chu's research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, and polymer and biophysics includes tests of fundamental theories in physics, the development of methods to laser-cool and trap atoms, and the manipulation and study of polymers and biological systems at the single-molecule level.

While at Stanford, he helped to start Bio-X, a multidisciplinary initiative that brings together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine. About 30 alumni of his research group have gone on to become professors in their own right and have been recognized by dozens of prizes and awards. They include four Penn State professors: Nate Gemelke, assistant professor of physics; Kurt Gibble, professor of physics; Tae-Hee Lee, assistant professor of chemistry; and David Weiss, professor of physics.

Chu is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academia Sinica, the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology, and numerous other civic and professional organizations.

He received bachelors degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Rochester and a doctorate in physics from the University of California. He is the holder of honorary degrees from 16 universities, including Penn State.

Last Updated March 22, 2012