Energy Scientist to Speak at Yale

Steven Koonin, head scientist for the global energy company BP, will speak at Yale University on February 18 and 19 as the Benjamin and Barbara Zucker Environmental Fellow for Spring 2008.

Koonin will be guest speaker at a Master’s Tea on February 18 at 4 p.m. in the Berkeley College Master’s House, 125 High St. The next day, he will give a public lecture titled “Energy: Facts, Challenges & Responses” at 4 p.m. in Davies Auditorium, Becton Center, 15 Prospect St.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) in 1972, Koonin earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology only three years later. He joined the faculty at CalTech in 1975 and rose quickly in the academic ranks, becoming a full professor in 1981 and provost in 1995. In 2004, he left academia to serve as head scientist for BP, one of the largest oil companies in the world.

As chief scientist, Koonin is responsible for implementing BP’s annual $500 million research budget. He played an active role in the creation of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership involving BP, the University of California (Berkeley), the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois EBI focuses on energy biosciences and brings together chemists, engineers, plant geneticists and other researchers to find ways to expand knowledge and production of biofuels.

Koonin is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. He has served on numerous advisory bodies for the National Science Foundation, the departments of Defense and Energy, as well as for several national laboratories.

The Zucker Fellowship was established in 1990 by a gift from Yale College alumni from the Class of 1962 to bring a major scientist, public policy figure or author in the field of environmental studies to campus each year to encourage students to embark on careers in environmental fields. Past fellows have included William K. Reilly, Jared Diamond, D. James Baker, Susan Solomon, Richard White, Paula Dobriansky, Thomas Lovejoy, Jeffrey Sachs, Ted Steinberg, Jim Hansen and most recently, Richard Kerr.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325