Biofuel company Ceres has named Steve Koonin, former chief scientist at BP and undersecretary of energy for science, to their board of directors.

The Thousand Oaks-based company, which markets energy crops for use in transportation fuels, electricity and other bio-based products, went public in February.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome a board member with such a valuable combination of experience from both the energy industry and public service to join our efforts to commercialize our pipeline of non-food, bioenergy products,” said Richard Hamilton, president and CEO of Ceres, in a press release.

Koonin served as undersecretary of energy from May 2009 until November 2011. Prior to his position at BP, he was a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech for 31 years, serving as the institute’s provost for nearly a decade. He currently serves as the founding director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University.

“The ability to dovetail into the existing fuel distribution and transportation infrastructure places biofuels in an advantaged position among renewables,” said Koonin in a prepared statement. “To be both competitive and sustainable, these renewable transportation fuels will rely on the type of high-yield, low-input feedstocks made possible through dedicated energy crops. I see significant technical headroom for a company like Ceres to help the biofuels industry reach greater scale and efficiency.”

Kelly Goff