Steven E. Koonin was appointed founding director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress in April 2012. That consortium of academic, corporate and government partners pursues research and educational activities to develop and demonstrate informatics technologies for urban problems in the ‘living laboratory’ of New York City. He previously served as the U.S. Department of Energy’s second Senate-confirmed under secretary for science. As chief scientist at BP, Koonin developed a long-range technology strategy for alternative and renewable energy sources.
Koonin joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1975, was a research fellow at the Niels Bohr Institute from 1976 to 1977, and was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellow from 1977 to 1979. He became professor of theoretical physics at Caltech in 1981 and served as chairman of the faculty from 1989 to 1991. From 1995 to 2004, Koonin was the seventh provost of Caltech.