Pope Francis appointed Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winning physicist from the United States, to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Chu, who served as secretary of energy under US President Barack Obama, was appointed to the papal think tank, the Vatican announced on 20 October.
Born in St Louis, Chu is the co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics “for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.”
The Nobel Prize winning professor of physics and molecular and cellular physiology taught at Stanford University in California before serving as energy secretary from 2009 to 2013; in that post, he was the first scientist to hold a cabinet position, according to the Stanford physics department website.
According to the papal academy’s website, the members are “eighty women and men from many countries who have made outstanding contributions in their fields of scientific endeavour. They are nominated by the Holy Father after being elected by the body of the academicians.”