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Steven Chu

Courtesy of Stanford University.

(b. 1948)

California Connection

  • Has worked primarily in California since the 1970s


Biography current as of induction in 2022

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Physics, Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology in the Medical School and Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering in the Doerr School of Sustainability at Stanford University. He has published over 300 papers in atomic and polymer physics, biophysics, molecular and cell biology, medical bio-imaging, batteries, and other energy technologies. He holds 21 patents, with 10 patents and seven additional patent disclosures after 2015.

Dr. Chu was the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy from January 2009 through April 2013. The first scientist to hold a Cabinet position and the longest-serving Energy Secretary, he recruited outstanding scientists and engineers into the Department of Energy. He began several initiatives including ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy), the Energy Innovation Hubs, and was personally tasked by President Obama to help BP stop the Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

Prior to his Cabinet post, Dr. Chu was director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he actively pursued alternative and renewable energy technologies, and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University, where he helped launch Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary institute combining the physical and biological sciences with medicine and engineering. Previously he headed the Quantum Electronics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

He is the co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to laser cooling and atom trapping and has received dozens of other awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a foreign member of six other academies of science and the Pontifical Academy of Science. He was past President and Chair of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Chu received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as 35 honorary degrees.

View more inductees from the 15th class, inducted in 2022.