The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) selected Stanford physics professor Steven Chu as its president-elect on Jan. 9. Chu is also the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the School of Medicine as well as a member of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute and Bio-X.
Since AAAS was founded in 1848, the international nonprofit organization has aimed to “advance science, engineering and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” As part of a larger effort to encourage research, communication and scientific application, AAAS publishes six peer-reviewed journals: Science, Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, Science & Diplomacy, Science Advances and Science Robotics.
Chu joined AAAS as a member in 1995 and became an elected fellow in 2000. In 1997, he received the Nobel Prize for physics along with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji of École Normale Supérieure in Paris and William D. Phillips of the University of Maryland, “for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light,” according to a press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Chu’s work with Cohen-Tannoudji and Phillips aided studies of new states of matter and development of new atomic clocks, accelerometers and gyroscopes capable of greater precision.
Chu became the first scientist to hold a cabinet position when he served as Secretary of Energy during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, from 2009 to 2013.
“Steve brought to the Energy Department a unique understanding of both the urgent challenge presented by climate change and the tremendous opportunity that clean energy represents for our economy,” Obama wrote in a statement from the President when Chu stepped down from his position.
In 2014, Chu was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS). According to the Royal Society, its members “must have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science.”
Chu will begin a three-year term as an officer and member of the Executive Committee of the AAAS Board of Directors during the AAAS 2018 Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, which will take place from Feb. 15-19. During his three-year term, Chu will serve, in order, one year as president-elect, one year as president and one year as chair of the Board of Directors.
“As Secretary of Energy, I was reminded daily that science must continue to be elevated and integrated into our national life and throughout the world,” Chu said in his AAAS candidacy statement. “The work of AAAS in connecting science with society, public policy, human rights, education, diplomacy and journalism – through its superb journals and programs – is essential.”
Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.