About the Conference

The annual Siebel Scholars Conference and ongoing planning sessions throughout the year are an integral part of the Siebel Scholars program. Current students and alumni gather to share ideas on global issues with the world's most prestigious thought-leaders and search for solutions to today's most pressing challenges. In 2007, the Scholars convened at University of California, Berkeley, focusing on the Economics of Alternative Energy to develop a program to spur innovation and explore energy solutions.

Throughout the conference, Siebel Scholars engaged in open and frank discussion about the impacts of climate change and potential sources of alternative energy. Scholars had an opportunity to interact with a prestigious group of leading scientists, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and experts to discuss this pressing issue. Siebel Scholars began the conference with a Friday evening keynote from distinguished guest, author, and Editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham. An airing of the Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, followed dinner.

On Saturday morning, a panel comprised of leading experts framed the issue of climate change and carbon emissions. The Saturday afternoon panel focused on the various sources of alternative energy. Panel discussions were moderated by ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson. On Saturday evening, we hosted a special evening in San Francisco featuring Hall-of-Fame blues musician, Buddy Guy.

Sunday we held a breakfast where Thomas M. Siebel, Chairman of the Siebel Foundation, presented a challenge to the Scholars. The Siebel Foundation is sponsoring a prize challenge related to alternative energy and Scholars were tasked with developing the difficult but achievable challenge. Scholars broke into working groups to discuss and articulate a prize that drives innovation and when achieved, will change the economics of alternative energy.


  • Speaker

    Spencer Abraham

    Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy

    Spencer Abraham was sworn in as the 10th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy on January 20, 2001. He began his tenure in the midst of a severe energy crisis that included the California blackouts, declining domestic energy supplies and insufficient international energy trade opportunities. In response, he helped President Bush devise America's first national energy plan in over a decade and oversaw its implementation. As part of this plan, he led efforts to broaden America's international energy partnerships, working with China, Japan, Russia, the E.U., countries in South America and Africa and certain OPEC nations. Under his leadership the Department of Energy conducted a number of short and long-term studies of world oil, gas, electricity and other markets. Domestically, he spearheaded high-tech efforts in the areas of hydrogen fuel cell research and the development and expansion of clean coal technology programs, and provided a strong voice for the reemergence of safe nuclear power. Prior to being named Secretary of Energy, Abraham served as an effective and highly productive U.S. Senator from Michigan, where he was the author of 22 pieces of legislation signed into law. He chaired two subcommittees: Manufacturing and Competitiveness and Immigration. He authored three ground-breaking pieces of technology legislation: the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act, the Government Paperwork and Elimination Act, and the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. All three were landmarks in the governance of cyberspace and the use of important new technology. He holds a law degree from Harvard University, where he co-founded the Federalist Society.

  • Speaker

    Carol Browner

    Former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    Carol Browner served as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 2001. She is the longest-serving Administrator in the history of the $7 billion, 18,000 employee agency. Accomplishments during Ms. Browner's tenure at EPA include enacting the strongest-ever national air pollution standards; creating innovative and flexible alternatives to traditional regulatory programs; and developing the highly successful Brownfields program. With her direction, the agency also forged broad bipartisan support to pass the landmark Food Quality Protection Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. It completed three times the number of Superfund clean-up projects than in the program's previous 13 years. Ms. Browner is also responsible for the creation of the first EPA Office of Children's Health Protection, the Office of Environmental Information, and the Office of Reinvention. Currently, Ms. Browner serves as a Principal of The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm. She is also a Principal of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm. Utilizing her expertise to position clients from a broad range of sectors, Ms. Browner, an attorney, provides strategic counsel in the critical areas of environmental protection, climate change, and energy conservation and security. Ms. Browner currently serves as chair of the National Audubon Society, one of the nation's oldest environmental organizations, and as a member of the Board of the Directors of the Center for American Progress, the Alliance for Climate Protection and the League of Conservation Voters. Ms. Browner earned her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Florida.

  • Speaker

    Sam Donaldson

    40-year ABC News veteran

    Sam Donaldson, a 40-year ABC News veteran, served two appointments as chief White House correspondent for ABC News from January 1998 to August 1999 and from 1977-1989, covering Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Clinton. Mr. Donaldson also co-anchored, with Diane Sawyer, PrimeTime Live from August 1989, until it merged with 20/20 in 1999.Mr.Donaldson co-anchored the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, This Week With Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts, from December 1996 to September 2002. From October 2001 to May 2004 Mr. Donaldson hosted The Sam Donaldson Show - Live In America, a daily news/talk radio program broadcast on ABC News Radio affiliates across the country. In the three-hour show, Sam tackled the day's top stories and important issues getting comment from newsmakers, engaging listener calls, and of course, inserting his own unique experience and opinion. Currently Mr. Donaldson is appearing on ABC News Now, the ABC News digital network. His daily half-hour show Politics Live is an unscripted dialogue with numerous guests and commentators discussing the top political news stories of the day. In 1998, Mr. Donaldson received the Broadcaster of the Year award from the National Press Foundation. Mr. Donaldson has won many other awards, among them four Emmy Awards and three George Foster Peabody Awards. Born in El Paso, Texas, Mr. Donaldson received his Bachelor's degree from Texas Western College and did graduate work at the University of Southern California. His 1987 autobiography, Hold On, Mr. President, was an international best seller.

  • Speaker

    Myron Ebell

    Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy of the Competitive Enterprise Institute

    Myron Ebell is Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises over two dozen non-profit groups that question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies. CEI was named one of the ten most influential groups or individuals in the global warming debate for 2006; notably, no other non-profit groups, including environmental pressure groups, were named to the list. Mr. Ebell has appeared as a guest on numerous television shows, including the ABC Evening News, NBC Nightly News, PBS News Hour, BBC World, CNN, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera, Fox News's Special Report, and on national television networks throughout Europe, Australia, and Canada. In 2004, he was featured in a BBC Radio documentary, The Climate Wars, and in 2005 participated in a debate on the Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Ebell's writings have appeared in a variety of publications, including USA Today, the Washington Post, Human Events, London's Guardian, and Environmental Law Forum. Mr. Ebell has testified before six House and Senate committees. On radio, television, and in person, he has debated then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, then-EPA Administrator Carol Browner, then-CEQ Chairman Katie McGinty, former British Environment Minister John Selwyn Gummer, then-Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, European Environment Agency Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade, and the heads of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, National Environmental Trust, and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy, among others. A native of Baker City, Oregon, Mr. Ebell holds a B.A. from Colorado College and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.

  • Speaker

    Daniel Esty

    Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University

    Daniel C. Esty is the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University. He holds faculty appointments in both Yale's Environment and Law Schools. He is the Director of the Center for Business & Environment at Yale, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, as well as the Yale World Fellows Program. Professor Esty is the author and editor of eight books and numerous articles on environmental policy issues and the relationships between environment and corporate strategy, competitiveness, trade, security, performance measurement (data-driven decision making), governance, and development. His most recent book, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, explains what every executive must know to manage and profit from the environmental challenges facing society and the business world. Prior to taking up his current position at Yale, Professor Esty was a Senior Fellow at the Institute for International Economics (1993-94), served in a variety of senior positions on the US Environmental Protection Agency (1989-93), and practiced law in Washington, DC (1986-89). In 2002, Professor Esty received the American Bar Association Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy for "pioneering a data-driven approach to environmental decision making" and developing the Global Environmental Sustainability Index. He served four years as an elected Planning and Zoning Commissioner in his hometown of Cheshire, Connecticut.

  • Speaker

    Ben Lieberman

    Senior Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation's Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

    Ben Lieberman is a Senior Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation's Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. He specializes in energy and environmental issues, including the Clean Air Act, climate change, and the impact of environmental policy on energy prices. His commentaries on environmental and energy issues have appeared in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Chicago Sun- Times, Consumer's Research, Weekly Standard, and others. He has also appeared in interviews on CNBC and FOX News Channel. His work on stratospheric ozone depletion and the Montreal Protocol was published in the 1994 monograph, "The High Cost of Cool: The Economic Impact of the CFC Phase- out in the United States," and the 1998 monograph, Doomsday Déjà Vu: Ozone Depletion's Lessons for Global Warming. Mr. Lieberman has also written on the Clean Air Act and the issue of environmental federalism, including the 1995 monograph, Title V of the Clean Air Act: Will America's Industrial Future Be Permitted? and the 1997 monograph, Environmental Audits: State Carrots Versus Federal Sticks in Environmental Enforcement. He covered the consumer impact of environmental regulations, such as those mandating low-flush plumbing fixtures and energy efficient appliances and residences as well as federal regulations affecting gasoline prices. Mr. Lieberman testified before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power for the U.S. House of Representatives and before the House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources, and Affairs discussing these standards. Mr. Lieberman received his JD from George Washington University.

  • Speaker

    Jon Meacham

    Editor of Newsweek

    Jon Meacham is Editor of Newsweek. He arrived at the magazine as a writer in January 1995, became National Affairs Editor in June of that year, and was named Managing Editor in November 1998. He supervises the magazine's coverage of politics, international affairs, and breaking news, and has written cover stories on politics, religion, guns in America, race, and the death of Ronald Reagan. In 2001, Newsweek won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence—the industry's highest honor—for its coverage of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. In 2003, the magazine won the award again for its coverage of President Bush and the Iraq war. Meacham's Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, a chronicle of the wartime relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill, was published by Random House on October 21, 2003, and spent twelve weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. The New York Times said the book was "written with grace and conviction"; TIME magazine called it "masterful" and the Washington Post said it was "a memorable achievement." Franklin and Winston was named a book of the year by the Los Angeles Times. It has won The Churchill Centre's 2005 Emery Reves Award for the best book of the year on Winston Churchill and the William H. Colby Military Writers' Symposium's Book of the Year Award. The paperback edition was a New York Times bestseller for nine weeks. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English Literature from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He is now a member of the University's governing Board of Regents.

  • Speaker

    Angus Rockett

    Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinoi

    Angus Rockett is a Full Professor and Associate Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois. He is a Fellow of the AVS Science and Technology Society and was a rotating Research Program Administrator at the Office of Basic Energy Sciences at the Department of Energy in 2000. He has won numerous awards for teaching and advising from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. His teaching has ranged from introductions to materials engineering for business and engineering students to senior and graduate courses on electronic material. His research has concerned ion-assisted growth of semiconductors and fundamental science of growth of materials by molecular beam epitaxy. He has studied the basic science of solar cell materials and the operation of solar cell devices for 20 years using virtually all of the common materials microchemical and microstructural analysis techniques from SIMS and TEM to STM and photoluminescence. He is an AVS Short Course Instructor for the Sputter Deposition of Thin Films short course and will be teaching a new short course on photovoltaics this year. He has also given short courses in fundamentals of thin film solar cells at the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, on characterization of photovoltaic materials at the Materials Research Society, and has given short courses on thin films and photovoltaics in China, Mexico, Sweden, Israel, Brazil, and elsewhere. He holds a Sc.B. in Physics from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Illinois.

  • Speaker

    Thomas Siebel

    Chairman of First Virtual Group, Chairman of the Siebel Foundation

    Mr. Siebel was the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Siebel Systems, one of the world's leading software companies, which merged with Oracle Corporation in January 2006. Before founding Siebel Systems, Mr. Siebel served as Chief Executive Officer of Gain Technology, a multimedia software company that merged with Sybase in December 1992. From 1984 through 1990, he was an executive at Oracle Corp., where he held a number of senior management positions. Mr. Siebel serves on the Board of Advisors for the Stanford University College of Engineering and the University of Illinois College of Engineering. He is a Director of the University of Illinois Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. He is a frequent industry spokesman and is the author of three books: Taking Care of eBusiness and Cyber Rules, published by Doubleday, and Virtual Selling, published by the Free Press. The Siebel Foundation, founded in 1996, is active in the support of the homeless and underprivileged, educational and research programs, methamphetamine abuse prevention, and alternative energy solutions. The Siebel Foundation, in turn, created the Siebel Scholars Foundation, the Dearborn Scholars Fund in Montana, and the Meth Project. The Siebel Scholars program has contributed $28 million to ten universities to endow scholarship funds for graduate students in computer science and business who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and leadership. Mr. Siebel is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History, an MBA, a Master of Science in Computer Science, and a Ph.D. in Engineering (Hon.).

  • Speaker

    Richard Swanson

    Co-founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer of SunPower Corporation

    Richard Swanson co-founded SunPower Corporation in 1985. He has served as President and Chief Technology Officer since June 2003 and has been a member of the board of directors since 1985. Prior to his current position, Dr. Swanson served as Chief Executive Officer and President from 1991 to June 2003 and vice president and director of technology from 1990 to 1991. From 1976 to 1991, Dr. Swanson served as a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Professor Swanson and his group conceived and developed the point-contact solar cell. Laboratory versions of these cells achieved record 28 percent conversion efficiency in concentrator cells and 23 percent large-area one-sun cells. Along with his students and co-workers, he has published over 200 articles in journals and conference proceedings, as well as several book chapters. In 2002, he was awarded the William R. Cherry award by the IEEE for outstanding contributions to the photovoltaic field, and in 2006 the Becquerel Prize in Photovoltaics from the European Communities. He holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio State University. Dr. Swanson received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1974.

  • Speaker

    Jerry Taylor

    Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute

    Jerry Taylor is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. In this role, Mr. Taylor challenges the "market failure" critique of free markets as they pertain to energy policy and environmental protection. Under his direction, the Cato Institute has become an influential critic of federal and state environmental policy. He is active on the lecture circuit and one of the most frequently cited experts in energy and environmental policy in the nation. He has served regularly on congressional advisory bodies and has testified over a dozen times at hearings on Capitol Hill. Mr. Taylor is the author of numerous studies and journal essays on energy and environmental issues, and has contributed to several anthologies, including Market Liberalism: A New Paradigm for the 21st Century, The Cato Handbook for Congress, China as a Global Economic Power: Market Reforms and the New Millennium, and Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet. He is a frequent contributor to prominent newspapers and magazines, and has written for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Additionally, Mr. Taylor is a regular commentator on Fox News Channel, CNBC, CNN, NPR, and the BBC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa.


Friday, October 26

  • 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

    Welcome Reception

    Claremont Horizon Room

  • 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

    Dinner Address Jon Meacham, Editor of Newsweek magazine

    Claremont Ballroom

  • 8:15 pm – 9:30 pm


    Claremont Ballroom

  • 9:30 pm – 11:00 pm

    Movie, An Inconvenient Truth

    Claremont Empire Room

Saturday, October 27

  • 7:00 am – 8:00 am


    Claremont Horizon Room

  • 8:30 am – 9:00 am

    Welcome Remarks ● Thomas M. Siebel, Chairman of the Siebel Scholars Foundation ● S. Shankar Sastry, Dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Engineering

    University of California, Berkeley, Stanley Hall

  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

    Morning Panel Discussion Moderated by Sam Donaldson Climate Change: Is It a Problem? A discussion on the potential consequences related to carbon emissions. ● Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Energy under President George W. Bush ● Carol Browner, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton ● Myron Ebell, Director of Energy and Global Warming at the Competitive Enterprise Institute ● Jerry Taylor, Energy Expert at the Cato Institute

    University of California, Berkeley, Stanley Hall

  • 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm


    University of California, Berkeley, Hearst Mining Building

  • 1:15 pm – 4:00 pm

    Afternoon Panel Discussion Moderated by Sam Donaldson What are the Potential Sources of Alternative Energy? A discussion on the various sources of energy including solar power, wind power, nuclear power, and bio-fuels. ● Daniel Esty, Author of Green to Gold and the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University ● Ben Lieberman, Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation ● Angus Rockett, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ● Richard Swanson, President and CTO of SunPower

    University of California, Berkeley, Stanley Hall

  • 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

    Closing Remarks ● Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley

    University of California, Berkeley, Stanley Hall

  • 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm

    Reception and Evening Event ● Buddy Guy, Hall-of-Fame blues musician

    Downtown San Francisco, Bimbo's 365 Club

Sunday, October 28

  • 8:00 am – 8:30 am


    Claremont Ballroom

  • 8:30 am – 9:00 am

    Meeting with Siebel Scholars ● Thomas M. Siebel, Chairman of the Siebel Scholars Foundation ● Jesse Berst, Executive Director, Energy & Environment, X Prize Foundation

    University of California, Berkeley, Stanley Hall

  • 9:00 am – 11:00 am

    Siebel Scholars Meeting and Break-out Session

    Claremont Mezzanine

  • 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

    Siebel Scholars' Presentations

    Claremont Ballroom