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Boston College Alumnus Ernest J. Moniz Nominated for U.S. Energy Secretary


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (March 2013) – President Barack Obama has nominated College of Arts and Sciences alumnus Ernest J. Moniz '66 to lead the U.S. Department of Energy.

Moniz, who earned his bachelor’s degree in physics, is currently the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at MIT, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

“We are delighted that Dr. Moniz has been nominated by President Obama,” said Evelyn J. and Robert A. Ferris Professor and Physics Department Chairman Michael Naughton. “In these critical times for U.S. and world energy policies, there is no one more qualified for the job.”

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Ernest Moniz

Moniz is no stranger to Washington. He served as undersecretary of energy from 1997 to 2001, overseeing all of DOE’s science and energy programs and the national laboratory system. From 1995 to 1997, he served as the associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In a 2009 interview, Moniz fondly recalled his time as a student at BC, where he was a Scholar of the College and worked closely with retired Professor of Physics Joe Chen. He stressed the importance of undergraduate research opportunities and called Alumni Stadium his favorite campus location.

Addressing his “secrets to success”, he cited “hard work, core values, and high standards – all without compromise.”

Chen said in an email that Moniz stood out among a group of excellent students who came to BC to study physics in the 1960s. He recalled his star student pitching in to help relocate lab equipment from Devlin Hall to temporary quarters in McElroy.

“During the renovation of Devlin Hall, he helped us move and reassemble all the heavy research equipment to a spare room in McElroy – next to the loading dock and all the trash cans. He thrived in our challenging research environment without all the ancillary supports. His honors thesis was a beautiful piece of work during which he had to learn group theory all on his own.”

Chen also noted that Moniz was an accomplished tennis player.

He praised Moniz’s broad range of accomplishments during his career in science and public policy. “Ernie has moved on with significant contributions both to science and the overall welfare of this country.”

In 1999, the Alumni Association honored Moniz with its Award of Excellence for his achievements in science.

Moniz currently serves on the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology and on the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee. He recently served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

Moniz’s 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.

The DOE had a budget of more than $29 billion in fiscal year 2012; runs 17 national laboratories, and many other research facilities; and has more than 16,000 federal employees and 90,000 contract employees at the national laboratories and other facilities. DOE is the largest funder of research in the physical sciences.