BP Official Picked For Department of Energy

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BP Official Picked For Department of Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama nominated BP's Chief Scientist Steven Koonin to be undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy (DOE).

Koonin, an award-winning physicist, joined BP in 2004. His role focused heavily on alternative and renewable energy, according to a New York Times report.

The pick reunites Koonin with Energy Secretary Steven Chu; both helped form a major biosciences energy research partnership when Chu headed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Chu and Koonin worked together at the laboratory, which is part of the Energy Biosciences Institute, a 10-year, $500 million research partnership with BP at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois. Koonin is on the executive board. He and Chu played roles in establishing the program, according to the report.

Before joining BP, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born Koonin spent nearly three decades at the California Institute of Technology as a professor of theoretical physics, including nine years as provost. He earned his undergraduate degree at Caltech and doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the newspaper.

Chu vowed to boost DOE's Office of Science to better develop low-carbon energy sources. Chu recently told a congressional panel the fiscal 2010 budget substantially increases support for the office, which received $1.6 billion in the enacted economic stimulus bill.