Meet Arun Majumdar, Biden’s potential energy secretary pick

Arun Majumdar
Arun Majumdar; photo credit: University of California, Berkeley

The Stanford academic, an alumnus of IIT Bombay and UC Berkley, previously served as an acting under secretary at the Department of Energy.

Stanford academic Arun Majumdar, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, is considered a candidate for the Secretary of Department of Energy.

Last week, Biden named him as the head of the Department of Energy transition team.

Majumdar, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

If Biden picks Majumdar, it will not be the first time that he would be serving in as a political nominee at the energy department.

He served as the founding director of the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) from 2009 to 2012. Under his leadership, ARPA-E, a laboratory for cutting-edge research in the field of energy, received bipartisan support because of its innovative work.

READ: Stanford University scientist Arun Majumdar appointed US Science Envoy (December 5, 2014)

From March 2011 to June 2012, he also served as the Acting Under Secretary of Energy, overseeing, among others, the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability.

Majumdar was named Under Secretary of Energy in 2011, but his nomination was withdrawn six months later. President Obama then appointed him as a Science Envoy. In that advisory position, he advised the White House, the Department of State, and the scientific community about potential opportunities for cooperation.

Majumdar has industry experience as well.

After his federal government tenure, he served as a vice president for energy at Google.

The Indian American left the tech giant, headquartered in Mountain View, CA, to join Stanford University, barely six miles away.

READ: Three Indian Americans lead Biden-Harris transition teams (November 12, 2020)

Besides being part of the faculty of Stanford’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, he is also the Jay Precourt Provostial Chair Professor and co-Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy.

The Precourt institute coordinates research activities among all seven Stanford schools and the Hoover Institution, which is part of the university.

Majumdar’s academic career began at Arizona State University and University of California, Santa Barbara. He also worked at his alma mater University of California, Berkeley as the Almy & Agnes Maynard Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering.

He is a member of a number of prestigious academies, including National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Majumdar came to the United States after earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Mumbai, in 1985, to enroll for Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. Two years later, he earned an MS from Berkeley and eventually a doctorate in 1989.

According to his official Stanford bio, Majumdar’s past and current research areas include “the science and engineering of nanoscale materials and devices”;  “multidimensional nanoscale imaging and microscopy”; “electrochemical and thermochemical redox reactions that are fundamental to a sustainable energy future”; and “a new effort to re-engineer the electricity grid using data science, including deep learning techniques.”

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