Alumnus to Speak on Energy Policy

The Center for Science and the Common Good at Ursinus College presents a talk by Dr. Robert Simon, Ursinus alumnus (Chemistry 1977) and former Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Jan. 28.

Dr. Robert Simon 1977

Dr. Robert Simon 1977

His presentation, titled “Sausage and Serendipity: Reflections on Energy Policy and Energy Policy Careers in Washington,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center, near the West parking lot off Ninth Avenue, Collegeville. Admission is free.

Simon is originally from Ambler, Pa. This seminar will celebrate the beginning of the fourth semester of operation of the Center for Science and the Common Good at Ursinus College, which exists to foster a campus-wide conversation about issues arising at the intersection of science and society. That conversation is part of the College’s larger mission to provide a liberal education in judgment and character. The Center operates the support of a major grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dr. Simon is currently a consultant in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP. He has been nominated by President to serve as the Associate Director heading up OSTP’s Environment and Energy Division, and his nomination is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate. From March to June 2013, he was a Senior Advisor in the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy.

From 1999 to 2012, he directed the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, serving as the committee’s overall Staff Director when the Democratic Party was the majority party in the Senate.  His work at the committee contributed to the enactment of 426 public laws in the areas of energy policy, public lands conservation, and natural resources management. He played a major role in the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Prior to his position with the Committee, Dr. Simon was a policy analyst with the Joint Economic Committee, where he provided scientific and technical advice to its Ranking Democratic Member, Senator Jeff Bingaman.

He was with the U.S. Department of Energy, assigned on detail to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources under Senator J. Bennett Johnston (1993-1996) and to Senator Jeff Bingaman (1997). Before serving in these roles in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Simon worked in the Department of Energy from 1989 to 1993, where he was the founding Executive Director of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and then Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Energy Research.

Dr. Simon came to the Department of Energy from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, where he directed its Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology.

In 2006, Dr. Simon was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, for his contributions to integrating science with public policy.

He holds a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and graduated from Ursinus with his B.S. in chemistry in 1977. While a student at Ursinus, he was active in a number of campus organizations. He was a member of Cub and Key and the Beardwood Chemical Society, was elected to represent his class on the Student-Faculty-Administration Relations Committee, and was the founding President of the Ursinus College Newman Society.