Obama to name Fall River Native to head Energy Department

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will nominate a Fall River native and MIT scientist Ernest Moniz, the grandson of Azorean immigrants, to head the Energy Department.

Moniz, 69, oversees MIT’s Energy Initiative, a research group that focuses on innovative ways to produce power while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But unlike outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu, he is also well-versed in the ways of Washington, having served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary in the Clinton administration.

Moniz, is a graduate of BMC Durfee High School call of 1962 and grew up on Diamond Street near South Park. HIs maternal and paternal grandparents are from the Azores.

Moniz has also advised Obama on central components of the administration’s energy plan, including a retooling of the country’s stalled nuclear waste program, energy research and development, and unconventional gas.

In a 2009 alumni interview published on Boston College’s website, Moniz noted that he learned to balance both political and scientific demands while working in the Clinton administration. “Physics sometimes looked easy compared to doing the people’s business,” he said.

Moniz had already made the city proud once before. A 1997 article on his nomination to the Clinton Administration printed by O Jornal which interviewed some of his old Durfee classmates, offered some insight into his childhood.

“He certainly did not come into this world with a  silver spoon in his mouth,” said  Manny Papoula, a former classmate at Boston College and Durfee High School.

Moniz was top ten in his class at Durfee, was President of the math club and a tennis team member for three years.

Papoula described Moniz in school as a “modest, down to earth guy.”