U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to speak at Penn

Secretary Chu

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama promised to “return science to its rightful place” in American governance, with a specific goal of tackling the problems of climate change and fossil fuel dependence. Obama quickly acted on that pledge by becoming the first president to appoint a Nobel Prize-winning scientist to his cabinet: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.  

On Thursday, Oct. 13, the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) will present its biennial Berger Award to Chu. The award is given to recognize a technological innovator who has made a lasting contribution to society. Previous winners include Nobel Prize-winning chemist Thomas Cech; gene-sequencing and synthetic biology pioneer J. Craig Venter; and noted inventor Dean Kamen who, among other innovations, developed the Segway.  

At the Berger Award ceremony, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the Wu and Chen Auditorium in Levine Hall, Chu will deliver the Harold Berger Distinguished Lecture, titled “How Innovation Has Changed the World.”

Chu’s lecture is open to the public. Seating is limited and provided on a first-come, first-served basis. A reception in Levine lobby will follow.

“It’s an honor to have Secretary Chu at Penn Engineering, especially as he is a champion of one of the most crucial issues in engineering today: the need to develop alternative energy technologies,” says Eduardo Glandt, dean of SEAS. 

As energy secretary, Chu has led a national alternative and renewable energy initiative, which includes green-building programs and plans for a modernized, “smart” energy grid. Prior to his appointment to Obama’s cabinet, Chu pioneered a technique for laser-cooling atoms, for which he was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics. Chu has also served as the director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Originally published on September 29, 2011