Professor Ernest J. Moniz, who returned to MIT as the head of the Department of Physics on February 3 after a two-year stint in Washington, has been nominated to be Undersecretary of Energy by President Clinton.
Professor Moniz, 52, was the associate director for science of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) from July 1995 through last January. Prior to that, he worked with his predecessor, Professor M.R.C. Greenwood of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and presidential science advisor John H. Gibbons on the administration's 1994 science policy report, "Science in the National Interest."
If confirmed by the Senate as undersecretary, Professor Moniz will be responsible for Department of Energy (DOE) involvement in science and technology, the environment, national security and fundamental research. He also will be charged with integrating the DOE national laboratories into a cohesive system and strengthening the links to academia and the private sector while enhancing core competencies.
In addition, he will oversee national security and nonproliferation issues and advise Energy Secretary Federico Peï¿½ï¿½ï¿½a in maintaining the security of the nation's nuclear stockpile.
Noting that he had not anticipated such a quick return to Washington, Professor Moniz said, "Secretary Peï¿½ï¿½ï¿½a made a rather compelling case about the opportunities at hand to help him carry forward important DOE missions -- strengthening the nation's core scientific infrastructure, assuring nuclear stockpile security and materials control in support of a comprehensive test ban, and promoting the research base for new energy technologies that advance environmental stewardship.
"These missions are important to the administration and Congress, and the Secretary has clearly articulated the centrality of science and technology in the DOE. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity and look forward to the challenge."
Professor Moniz came to MIT as an assistant professor of physics in 1973 and was named department head in 1991. A graduate of Boston College with a PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford University, he served as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center from 1983-91.
During his previous tour in government, Professor Moniz helped sustain federal funding of scientific research during a period of intense pressure on domestic spending. In addition, he worked to strengthen the evolving partnership between the federal government and American research universities, particularly with regard to the award and management of research grants. Professor Moniz promoted discussion of the procedures governing research misconduct, reviewed the US Antarctic program, and initiated a multi-agency effort to advance research for child and adolescent development.
Professor Moniz has been awarded fellowships by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He chaired the DOE's and the National Science Foundation's Nuclear Science Advisory Committee from 1992-95 and the Physics External Advisory Committee for the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1994-95.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 13, 1997.