U.S. Secretary of Energy and renowned physicist Steven Chu, Ph.D., spoke today at Caltech’s 115th annual commencement.
Chu, the 12th United States Secretary of Energy, is a distinguished experimental physicist and scientific administrator and Nobel Laureate.
At Caltech today, Chu led a speech congratulating graduates and reminded them what they had to be proud of.
â€œTo the class of 2009, let me congratulate you on your achievement,â€ Chu said. â€œâ€¦You should be proud to be graduating from an institution where nerds are welcome.â€
Chu also reminded students to be proud for having “one of the finest liberal arts educations possible.”
“The goal of a liberal arts education is to teach you how to think rigorously and critically and to give you the tools to teach yourself,” he said. “Your quantitative and intellectually demanding traning will allow you to venture wherever your curiosity may take you.”
Born in St. Louis, Chu attended the University of Rochester where he was inspired by Caltech physicist Richard Feynman. He earned a B.A. in mathematics and a B.S. in physics. Chu pursued graduate study at the University of California, Berkeley, and joined Bell Laboratories, where he later became head of the Quantum Electronics Research Department, after earning his Ph.D.
Chu joined Stanford University’s faculty in 1987, where he began to explore biology and polymer physics. Here he also helped initiate a program combining engineering, medicine and the biological and physical sciences known as Bio X.
In 1997, he earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for his development of laser light technique to cool and trap atoms, and in 2004, Chu became the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director.
On Dec. 15, 2008, Chu was nominated as secretary of energy by President Obama, and his role was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 20.