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Steven Koonin

Senior Fellow

Steven E. Koonin is a university professor at New York University with appointments in the Stern School of Business, the Tandon School of Engineering, and the Department of Physics. His current research focuses on climate science and energy technologies. Through a series of articles and lectures that began in 2014, Koonin has advocated for a more accurate, complete, and transparent public representation of climate and energy matters. His bestselling book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters was published in 2021.

Koonin served as under secretary for science in the US Department of Energy from 2009 to 2011, where he led the inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review. Before joining the government, he spent five years as chief scientist for BP. For almost thirty years, Koonin was a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where served for nine years as vice president and provost, facilitating the research of more than 300 scientists and engineers and catalyzing multiple research initiatives.

In addition to the National Academy of Sciences, Koonin’s memberships include the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Jason group of scientists who solve technical problems for the US government. He has been a trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses since 2014 and is currently an independent governor of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; he has served in similar roles for the Los Alamos, Sandia, Brookhaven, and Argonne National Laboratories.

Koonin has a BS in physics from Caltech and a PhD in theoretical physics from MIT. He is the author of the classic 1985 textbook Computational Physics and has published some 200 peer-reviewed papers in the fields of physics and astrophysics, scientific computation, energy technology and policy, and climate science.

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