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Photo of Steven E. Koonin, Director - NYU's Center for Urban Science & Progress and Former Under Secretary for Science

Steven E. Koonin was appointed as the founding Director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress in April 2012. That consortium of academic, corporate, and government partners will pursue research and education activities to develop and demonstrate informatics technologies for urban problems in the “living laboratory” of New York City. 

He previously served as the U.S. Department of Energy’s second Senate-confirmed Under Secretary for Science from May 19, 2009 through November 18, 2011. As Under Secretary for Science, Dr. Koonin functioned as the Department’s chief scientific officer, coordinating and overseeing research across the DOE. He led the preparation of the Department’s 2011 Strategic Plan and was the principal author of its Quadrennial Technology Review. Dr. Koonin particularly championed research programs in High Performance Simulation, Exascale Computing, Inertial Fusion Energy, and Greenhouse Gas Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification. He also provided technical counsel on diverse nuclear security matters. 

He joined the California Institute of Technology’s faculty in 1975, was a research fellow at the Neils Bohr Institute during 1976-1977, and was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow during 1977-1979. He became a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech in 1981 and served as Chairman of the Faculty from 1989-1991. Dr. Koonin was the seventh provost of Caltech from 1995-2004. In that capacity, he was involved in identifying and recruiting 1/3 of the Institute’s professorial faculty and left an enduring legacy of academic and research initiatives in the biological, physical, earth, and social sciences, as well as the planning and development of the Thirty-Meter Telescope project. 

As the Chief Scientist at BP from 2004 to early 2009, Dr. Koonin developed the long-range technology strategy for alternative and renewable energy sources. He managed the firm’s university–based research programs and played a central role in establishing the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Dr. Koonin is a member and past chair of the JASON Study Group, advising the U.S. Government on technical matters of national security. He has served on numerous advisory committees for the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense, including the Defense Science Board and the CNO’s Executive Panel. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a former member of the Trilateral Commission. In 1985, Dr. Koonin received the Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Award and, in 1998 the Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award for his “broad impact on nuclear many-body physics, on astrophysics, and on a variety of related fields where sophisticated numerical methods are essential; and in particular, for his breakthrough in nuclear shell model calculations centered on an ingenious method for dealing with the huge matrices of heavy nuclei by using path integral methods combined with the Monte Carlo technique.”

Most Recent by Former Under Secretary Koonin

Register Here for the Public Release of the Quadrennial Technology Review
September 20, 2011

Register here to attend the public release of the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Technology Review on Tuesday, September 27 at 1:00pm at the...

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Harnessing the Energy of the Stars
September 12, 2011

These are exciting times for fusion energy. Today I’m sharing that excitement with several hundred scientists at a conference on Inertial Fusion...

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Department of Energy to Host Final Quadrennial Technology Review Workshop
July 11, 2011

Deparment's Quadrennial Technology Review announces final workshop to discuss preliminary findings.

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Introducing the Department of Energy Quadrennial Technology Review
April 7, 2011

DOE-QTR will offer high-level views of the technical status and potential of various energy technologies.

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Simulation and High-Performance Computing
October 29, 2010

Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin is spearheading planning within the Department to develop the next generation of supercomputers over the...

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Simulating the Next Generation of Energy Technologies
September 22, 2010

Computer simulations offer a huge potential for the auto industry to allow us to make modifications to engines faster and cheaper -- and come up...

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Making Progress
September 17, 2010

Undersecretary of Science Steven Koonin spoke yesterday to the newly reconstituted Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) -- a group of...

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Connecting with the Auto Industry
August 9, 2010

Under Secretary Steve Koonin reflects on his experience at the Center for Automotive Research's annual Management Briefing Seminar.

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