Steven Chu, a professor of physics at Stanford University and the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has been chosen as the president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Steven Chu

Steven Chu (Image credit: U.S. Department of Energy)

AAAS is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to “advance science, engineering and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” They promote science and technology research and applications, and work to enhance communication among and between scientists, engineers and the public. AAAS publishes six peer-reviewed journals, including Science.

In 1997, Chu won the Nobel Prize for Physics along with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips for their work on cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. This research has contributed to the study of new states of matter and aided the development of more precise atomic clocks, accelerometers and gyroscopes. Chu also served as secretary of energy under President Barack Obama during the president’s first term in office, making him the first scientist to hold a cabinet position.

“As secretary of energy, I was reminded daily that science must continue to be elevated and integrated into our national life and throughout the world,” said Chu in his candidacy statement, shared by AAAS. “The work of AAAS in connecting science with society, public policy, human rights, education, diplomacy and journalism – through its superb journals and programs – is essential.”

Chu, who is also a member of Stanford Bio-X and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, has been a member of AAAS since 1995 and was named an elected fellow in 2000. He will begin his three-year term as an officer and member of the Executive Committee of the AAAS Board of Directors at the 184th AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, next month. After one year as president-elect, Chu will serve as AAAS president for one year and then chair of the Board of Directors for one year.