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Arun Majumdar became the first Director of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), an agency tasked with reducing America’s reliance on foreign energy supplies, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and improving energy efficiency.

Ever since he joined the University of California (UC), Berkeley faculty in 1997, where he holds the Almy and Agnes Maynard Chair Professorship in the College of Engineering and heads the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Majumdar has cemented the Lab’s role as a world-renowned leader in energy efficiency research in close collaboration with India and China – a feat the White House has been quick to recognize and reward.

For more than a decade, Majumdar, who is also the founding chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Nanotechnology Institute, has been the country’s leading materials scientist, making spectacular advances in energy conservation. He was recently credited with developing a way to use silicon nanowires to capture and use the energy lost as heat during the production of electricity. The futuristic technology could someday be used to convert the large amounts of waste heat into useful electricity.

A graduate (mechanical engineering) of IIT-Mumbai, Majumdar came to the US in 1985 and received a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989. The Obama administration picked Indian-Americans for the post of White House Chief Information Officer (Vivek Kundra) and Chief Technology Officer (Aneesh Chopra). Majumdar will effectively be the Chief Energy Officer.

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