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  • Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy expert.
    Credit: Jon Chomitz
04/09/2014 12:03:52

Daniel Yergin to Deliver Commencement Address

Pulitzer Prize–winning energy expert Dr. Daniel Yergin will be the speaker at Caltech's 120th annual commencement ceremony. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 13, 2014, on Caltech's campus in Pasadena, California. The ceremony will also be live streamed online at

Yergin is vice chairman of IHS, a global information company, and the founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA). Hailed by the New York Times as "America's most influential energy pundit" and "a kind of one-man think tank," Yergin is known around the world as the author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, a New York Times best seller and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, and his new book, The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, which the Economist described as "masterly."

"As an expert on the geopolitics of energy, Dan Yergin has examined the interface of science and public policy in depth," says Ed Stolper, interim president of Caltech. "Caltech students will benefit from being challenged to put the scientific work for which they have been preparing into a broader social context. We are excited to bring him to campus for commencement in June."

Yergin was selected by the president on the advice of the commencement speaker selection committee, which is composed of both students and faculty. The committee reviews campus-wide nominations for the commencement speaker and advises the president regarding appropriate candidates. "Yergin's book The Prize should be required reading for anyone living in the 21st century," says Konstantinos Giapis, professor of chemical engineering and a member of the selection committee. "This is our history, that of the hydrocarbon era. The politics of energy influence everyone, and here at Caltech, where so much effort goes into developing alternative and renewable energy, we have a special interest in learning how energy and global politics interact."

When invited to be Caltech's commencement speaker, Yergin asked to come to campus a day early to meet with faculty and students to learn more about Caltech's efforts in energy science. "None of the speakers in the past have requested to meet with faculty and students," says Giapis, "and we are really looking forward to our conversations with him."

"It is an honor for me to deliver the commencement address at an institution that truly is at the global forefront of scientific research," says Yergin, "and especially its extraordinary students on their day of graduation."

Yergin grew up in the Los Angeles area. He holds a BA from Yale University and a PhD in international relations from the University of Cambridge, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar. Upon his return to the United States, Yergin taught at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and coauthored the report on the Harvard Business School energy project, Energy Future. Yergin founded CERA in 1982. CERA was acquired by IHS in 2004 and continues to serve as an advisory and consulting group utilized by both government and industry to understand energy needs and strategies.

Yergin's first book, Shattered Peace, was a comprehensive history of the origins of the Cold War. In addition to his work on energy resources, Yergin continues to research and publish on more general topics in global politics, such as the world economy (The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, also developed into an award-winning six-hour documentary) and the role of Russia in a changing world (Russia 2010).

The United States Energy Award, granted by the United States Energy Association (the U.S. member committee of the World Energy Council), was given to Yergin in 1997. In 2014, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prime Minister of India.  Yergin serves on the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and has chaired the U.S. Department of Energy's Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development. He is a trustee of the Brookings Institution and serves on the board of the New America Foundation and the advisory boards of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative and the Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Written by Cynthia Eller