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Steven Koonin leaving US Department of Energy

koonin.jpgSteven Koonin, the Under Secretary for Science at the US Department of Energy (DOE), is leaving the agency after two and a half years. The announcement came in an e-mail to employees on 8 November from Secretary Steve Chu, who says that Koonin will leave on 18 November and take up a position at the Washington DC-based Institute for Defense Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute.

If Chu was one of the administration’s highest-profile scientific appointments, then Koonin was one of Chu’s. Before coming to the DOE, he was provost of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and chief scientist at BP. He is also a past chairman of the JASON study group, an influential group of physicists who advise the government on science and security issues. Koonin has been heavily involved in DOE policy on fusion and nuclear weapons.

Here’s the full text of the e-mail from Chu:

Dear Colleagues,

I write to let you know that Under Secretary of Science Steve Koonin has informed me that he will be leaving the Department on November 18. Steve will be joining the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Steve’s service has been integral to the successes of this Department over the past two and a half years. He has played a central role in bringing the Department’s deep technical capabilities in scientific simulation to bear on the Nation’s energy challenges through such initiatives as Exascale computing and the multi-scale simulation of energy systems. He has provided invaluable technical counsel to the NNSA on nuclear security matters. His leadership in developing the Department’s Strategic Plan has given us a blueprint for addressing the nation’s energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. Most importantly, Steve led the first-ever DOE Quadrennial Technology Review, which defines DOE’s technology policy role and gives us a framework to strategically prioritize and balance the Department’s energy portfolio.

While we will miss Steve’s leadership, our Science enterprise will continue to be well served by Dr. Bill Brinkman, Director of the Office of Science, and the dedicated professionals who work with him.

The impressive work that has been accomplished by this organization is due to the efforts of all of you – some of the most talented and dedicated public servants with whom I have had the privilege of working.

Please join me in thanking Steve for his distinguished service.

Steven Chu


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