Steven Chu Biography

(Former United States Secretary of Energy)

Birthday: February 28, 1948 (Pisces)

Born In: St. Louis

Dr. Steven Chu is a prominent physicist and scientist of Chinese-American heritage who served as the United States Secretary of Energy. Steven was born to two Chinese parents who had fled their homeland to escape the travails of war. Deciding that education was of paramount importance, Steven's family moved to a large city in the northeast with quality schools but few Asian families. Under tremendous family pressure to compete academically, Chu went on to form a stellar career at a prominent northeastern university. After graduating, Chu was recognized for his breakthrough research work as a student, and given a prominent position as a researcher at a major lab. Chu continued to develop breakthroughs in understanding energy technologies, and eventually he and his fellow scientists were awarded with the most famous award in academic achievement. Chu continued to develop new lines of research into the physical properties of energy development and use, and became the head of one of the country's most prestigious research institutions. Eventually, Chu was tapped for a high-level cabinet position, and spent a full term in office investing in innovative new policies and projects. Today, Dr. Steven Chu is a respected academic and scholarly expert in many hard scientific disciplines, and a role model to many members of the Asian-American society
Quick Facts

Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Jean Chu, Lisa Chu-Thielbar

father: Ju-Chin Chu

mother: Ching-Chen Li

siblings: Gilbert Chu, Morgan Chu

children: Geoffrey Chu, Michael Chu

Physicists American Men

political ideology: Political party - Democratic

Ideology: Democrats

U.S. State: Missouri

Founder/Co-Founder: Energy Biosciences Institute

discoveries/inventions: Laser Cooling By Coherent Scattering, Bonding Substrates At Room Temperature Using Silica Nanoparticles

More Facts

education: 1976 - University of California, Berkeley, 1970 - University of Rochester, Garden City High School

awards: 1997 - Nobel Prize in Physics
1996 - Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences
US & Canada

Childhood & Early Life
Steven Chu was born on February 28, 1948 in St. Louis, Missouri to parents of Chinese-American ancestry. His father, Ju-Chin Chu, was a professor with a doctorate in chemical engineering. His mother, Ching Chen Li, studied economics and he has two brothers Gilbert and Morgan Chu.
As a teenager, he attended ‘Garden City High School’ in New York City. In his area of the city, Steven's family was the only one of Chinese ancestry.
In 1970, Chu graduated from the ‘University of Rochester’ with a Bachelor degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.
Continue Reading Below
In 1976, he received a Doctorate of Physics from the ‘University of California’ at Berkeley. For the next two years, he would serve as a Fellow at the same university, where he worked to develop new techniques with lasers.
In 1978, he was hired as the Director of Quantum Electronics Research for ‘Bell Laboratories’. He would hold this position for the next four years.
In 1983, he became a research physicist for ‘Bell Laboratories’, where he would continue to serve for the next five years. During his time at Bell Labs, Chu and his fellow researchers developed new techniques to cool and trap individual atoms.
In 1987, he became a professor of Applied Physics at ‘Stanford University’. He would continue to hold this title for the next 17 years.
Between 1990-2001 he served as the Chair of the Physics Department at ‘Stanford University’ on two occasions. While at Stanford, Chu and three other scientists founded the ‘Bio-X program’, an interdisciplinary research organization.
In 1996, he was awarded a prestigious ‘Guggenheim Fellowship’. This allowed him to continue his research into quantum electronics and advanced polymers.
In 1997, Chu was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics, along with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips, for their work on trapping atoms with laser light.
In 2004, he was appointed to be a Member of the Board of ‘NVIDA’ computer graphics and hardware company, a position he would hold for the next five years.
In 2004, he was appointed as director of the ‘Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’, a position he would hold until he became the Secretary of Energy. While there, he helped the lab develop new breakthroughs in bio-fuels and solar energy technologies.
On January 21, 2009, Chu was appointed as the United States Secretary of Energy. He would hold this position for the next four years. During his tenure, Chu was tasked with handling the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ leak and worked on several advanced energy research projects.
After retiring as a member of cabinet on Dr. Chu remains an active member of the faculty at ‘Stanford University’.
Major Works
Dr. Steven Chu served as the United States Secretary of Energy from 2009-2013 in the Obama Administration. As the Secretary of Energy, Chu led the investigation related to the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ oil spill and stressed on developing alternate means of energy and creating awareness about the harmful effects of fossil fuels.
He has published over 260 academic papers, holds 10 patents, is a member of several international prestigious scientific organizations, and has been awarded many elite distinctions by scientific organizations and honorary degrees at university in over a dozen different countries.
Awards & Achievements
In 1997, Dr. Chu and two other scientists were awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics for their work in trapping atoms with laser light. This was a breakthrough in understanding molecular biochemical processes.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1997, Chu married Jean Fetter, a British citizen. Steven and Jean live with Steven's two sons from his first marriage to Lisa Chu-Thielbar, an astrobiologist.
Although Chu is proud of his Chinese heritage, he does not actually speak the language because his parents forbade speaking it in the house when he was a child.
Chu is the second Chinese-American to be a member of the cabinet, after Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao.

See the events in life of Steven Chu in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Steven Chu Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Robert B. Laughlin Biography
Robert B. Laughlin
Russell Alan Hulse Biography
Russell Alan Hulse
Melvin Schwartz Biography
Melvin Schwartz
Ernest Lawrence Biography
Ernest Lawrence
Isidor Isaac Rabi Biography
Isidor Isaac Rabi