President Richard A. Meserve

Physics Today Profile

Dr. Richard A. Meserve became the ninth president of the Carnegie Institution in April 2003, after stepping down as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Meserve had been a member of Carnegie's board of trustees since 1992.

As Chairman of the NRC, Meserve served as the principal executive officer of the federal agency with responsibility for ensuring the public health and safety in the operation of nuclear power plants and in the usage of nuclear materials. He served as chairman under both Presidents Clinton and Bush and led the NRC in responding to the terrorism threat that came to the fore after the 9/11 attacks. Before joining the NRC, Meserve was a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling LLP, and he now serves as Senior Of Counsel to the firm. With his Harvard law degree, received in 1975, and his Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford, awarded in 1976, he devoted his legal practice to technical issues arising at the intersection of science, law, and public policy. Early in his career, he served as legal counsel to the President’s science and technology adviser, and was a law clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court and to Judge Benjamin Kaplan of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He received his undergraduate degree from Tufts University in 1966.

Meserve has served on numerous legal and scientific committees over the years, including many established by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. He also currently serves as chairman of the International Nuclear Safety Group, which is chartered by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Engineering; is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society; and a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Meserve serves on the board of directors of  PG&E Corporation and the Universities Research Association, Inc.; on the Council and Trust of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the Council of the National Academy of Engineering. He served as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future established by the Secretary of Energy at the direction of the President. He now serves as a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and as co-chariman of DOE's Nuclear Energy  Advisory Committee.