Steven Koonin, Ph.D., former undersecretary of science with the U.S. Department of Energy, will deliver the 2012 Dow/Union Carbide Seminar Honoring Jean Cropley at West Virginia University on Friday, March 23, at 1:30 p.m. The lecture, entitled, “Addressing America’s Energy Challenges,” will be held at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy, Assembly Room 101 A/B. It is free and open to the public.

The U.S. is the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum, yet it sends $1 billion out of the country each day to pay for oil. In the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, the challenge, Koonin asserts, is to provide heat and power in environmentally responsible ways that strengthen U.S. competitiveness and protect the climate. Koonin will review the findings of the DOE’s first Quadrennial Technology Review, which binds together multiple energy technologies, as well as multiple DOE energy technology programs, in the common purpose of solving our energy challenges.

Koonin brought a distinguished career as a university professor and administrator at the California Institute of Technology as well as experience in industry to his post with the DOE. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1975 and became a professor of theoretical physics in 1981 and later served as chairman of the faculty.

Koonin became provost at Caltech, where he was involved in identifying and recruiting a third of the Institute’s 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 between 2004 and early 2009, 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.

Koonin was 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. 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, 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.” He was elected to membership in the US National Academy of Sciences in 2010.

Koonin currently works at the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington D.C. The STPI provides objective analysis of science and technology policy issues to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The seminar series honors Jean B. Cropley, who retired from Union Carbide’s Technical Center in South Charleston, WV, in 1993 as a Corporate Research Fellow.

A specialist in real process chemical reaction engineering, is past chair of the Union Carbide Corporate Fellows Task Force on Education and its 300-member Education Volunteers Group of the Kanawha Valley.



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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon