Obama likely to choose Nobel winner to head DOE

by Kathleen Davis, senior editor

Tulsa, OK, Dec. 11, 2008 — President-elect Barack Obama is likely to select Steven Chu, the current director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his new administration’s secretary of energy, according to recent media reports.

Chu shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997 for figuring out how to trap and manipulate an atom. (The recipe: Chill the atom to near absolute zero. This slows it down enough to allow a laser light to grab it.)

The son of Chinese immigrants, Chu was born in 1948. A favorite science teacher in high school put him on the physics path, and he majored in mathematics and physics at Rochester. He moved on to Berkeley for graduate school and joined Bell Laboratories in 1978. There, from ’78-1987, he participated in the work that led to his ’97 Nobel.

In 1983, Chu snagged the top spot in the quantum electronics research department at Bell. Additionally in his work history, He chaired the physics department at Stanford and taught physics and molecular biology and Berkeley.

Chu became director at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2004. He’s reinvigorated programs there centering on energy efficient buildings, the monitoring of greenhouse gases and battery storage.

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