The Cal Alumni Association Announces the 2011 Alumnus of the Year Steven Chu ’76

Steven Chu, who received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976, has been selected as the 2011 Alumnus of the Year by the Cal Alumni Association (CAA). The United States Secretary of Energy and Nobel laureate is being recognized for his ground-breaking contributions to the fields of biophysics and atomic physics, commitment to addressing climate change, and transformative leadership in energy research and policy. Steven Chu and other distinguished alumni award recipients will be honored at Charter Gala, a benefit for the Cal Alumni Association, on April 9, 2011 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at San Francisco City Hall.

“It is a distinct honor to pay tribute to Dr. Chu by awarding him with the Cal Alumni Association’s highest honor,” said CAA President Alan C. Mendelson ’69. “He will be joining the ranks of Cal’s most accomplished alumni.” Recent past awardees include Richard N. Goldman ’41; Robert D. Haas ’64; Thelton E. Henderson ’55, J.D. ’62; Alice Waters ’67; Donald G. Fisher ’50; and Warren Hellman ’55.

A distinguished scientist and global leader, Dr. Chu has gained renown as the nation’s foremost voice in advocating for scientific solutions to the issues of global climate change and the urgent need for carbon-neutral renewable energy sources. As United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Chu is charged with implementing President Obama’s ambitious agenda to invest in clean energy, help reduce our reliance on foreign oil, address global climate crisis, and create millions of jobs.

University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who has known Dr. Chu for three decades since the two men worked at Bell Laboratories in the 1970s, said “Steve Chu has been relentless about addressing the technical challenges of renewable energy in a deep way. We will now have an energy policy than can mean the U.S. will have a chance at obtaining energy self-sufficiency through new technology.”

Dr. Chu earned undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Rochester then went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Chu was the director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he led the lab in pursuit of alternative energy technologies. He also taught at UC Berkeley as a professor of physics and professor of molecular and cell biology where he held the Philomathia Foundation Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy. In addition, Dr. Chu has held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

The Cal Alumni Association is also honoring alumni in the following categories:

The Excellence in Achievement Award is being presented to Charles Thacker ’67, pioneer in computer science; Andrew Frank ’55, M.S. ’58, inventor of the modern plug-in hybrid; and Ananya Roy, MCP ’94, Ph.D.’99, education director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

The Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a is being presented to Victor Pineda ’03, MCP ’06, founder of the Victor Pineda Foundation; and Kristin Richmond, MBA ’06, and Kirsten Tobey, MBA ’06, co-founders of Revolution Foods, Inc.

The Excellence in Service Award is being presented to Dr. Peter Bretan, Jr. ’76, Cal Externship Program mentor; Jefferson Coombs ’89, past Cal Alumni Association Board Director and Emeritus UC Regent; and Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79, volunteer leader of the UC Berkeley School of Law and the Cal Alumni Association.

The Alumni Group of the Year Award is being presented to Prytanean Alumnae, the oldest collegiate women’s honor society in the United States.

Learn more about the awardees »

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