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). The Carnegie Institution conducts basic research in biology, astronomy, and geophysics.
As Chairman of the NRC, Dr. Meserve served as the principal executive officer of the federal agency with responsibility for ensuring 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 lead 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, 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. This involved nuclear licensing, environmental and toxic tort litigation, and counseling scientific societies and high-tech companies. Early in his career, he served as legal counsel to the President’s science advisor, 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.
Dr. 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, and as a member of the National Commission on Energy Policy. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Engineering, and Sigma Xi, and he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and Phi Beta Kappa. Meserve serves on the Board of Directors of PG&E Corporation, Luminant Holding Company LLC and of the Universities Research Association, Inc., on the Advisory Committee for UniStar Nuclear Energy LLC, and on the Council, Executive Committee, and Trust of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.