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Photo courtesy Steven Chu / Washington Speakers Bureau

Former US Secretary of Energy, US Department of Energy; Professor of Physics, Molecular and Cellular Physiology, and Energy Science and Engineering, Stanford University

Richard von Weizsäcker Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2024

Steven Chu is Professor of Physics, Molecular and Cellular Physiology, and Energy Science and Engineering at Stanford University. He received the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for laser cooling and trapping of atoms. His other contributions include the first optical-tweezers manipulation of biomolecules, precision atom interferometry based on optical pulses of light, and single-molecule FRET of biomolecules tethered to surfaces. He is developing and applying new methods in molecular biology and medical imaging, materials science, and batteries.


Previously, Chu served as US Secretary of Energy, where he began ARPA-E, the Energy Innovation Hubs, and was tasked by President Obama to help BP stop the Macondo Oil spill. Chu was also the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics and applied physics at Stanford, and helped initiate Bio-X, which linked the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine. Before Stanford, Chu was a department head at Bell Laboratories, a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a senior advisor to the directors of the NIH and the NNSA.


Chu received his undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Rochester, a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. Holder of 35 honorary degrees, he is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and eight foreign academies.

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