President Obama has nominated MIT Professor Ernest Moniz, 69, as Secretary of Energy to replace Steven Chu who announced his resignation in February.
Moniz is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at MIT, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. Previously, Moniz headed the Department of Physics at the school and was director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His principal research contributions have been in theoretical nuclear physics and in energy technology and policy studies.
He has been on the MIT faculty since 1973, according to MIT News.
Although an academic, Moniz also has experience navigating Washington, having served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary in the Clinton administration where he had oversight responsibility for all of DOE’s science and energy programs and the DOE national laboratory system. Moniz has also advised President Obama on central components of the administration’s energy plan, according to the Associated Press.
Moniz is the founding director of MITEI, which was created in 2006 to research innovative ways to produce power while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Under Moniz, MITEI has supported almost 800 research projects at the Institute, has 23 industry and public partners supporting research and analysis, and has engaged 25 percent of the MIT faculty in its projects and programs, according to the university’s news service. A majority of the research projects supported through MITEI have been in renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon management, and enabling tools such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced modeling. The largest single area of funded research is in solar energy, with more than 100 research projects in this area alone.
According to Yahoo! News, Moniz has supported nuclear energy even after disasters such as Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in early 2011, “Washington should stick to its plan of offering limited assistance for building several new nuclear reactors in this decade,” he wrote, adding “It should step up its support for new technology,” too. Moniz also has enthused about natural gas, calling it a paradigm-shifting opportunity and a bridge to a low-carbon-future, says Yahoo!