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Carter recognized with Materials Theory Award

December 30, 2021

 By the Office of Engineering Communications

Emily Carter, the Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 Professor in Energy and the Environment, is the recipient of the Materials Research Society’s annual award for work leading to the fundamental understanding of materials’ structure and behavior.

Carter accepted the 2021 Materials Theory Award and presented a lecture entitled “Quantum-derived Materials Solutions for a Sustainable Future” during the society’s virtual fall meeting on Dec. 7.

A former dean of engineering at Princeton, Carter has been serving as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California-Los Angeles but will be returning to the Princeton faculty on Jan. 1, 2022, as well as in a newly created role as Senior Strategic Advisor for Sustainability Science at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. A professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, she was the founding director of the University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

In bestowing the award, the Materials Research Society recognized Carter for developing and applying “quantum mechanical simulation techniques to enable discovery and design of molecules and materials for sustainable energy and carbon mitigation technologies.”

Carter’s research includes creating quantum mechanical tools to analyze the behavior of large numbers of atoms and electrons in materials. The tools, which are validated against measurements, allow scientists to evaluate matter’s behavior without experimental data. They help researchers predict atomic and molecular behavior and allow them to scale these findings to much larger systems.

A focus of the work has been sustainable energy and, in recent years, Carter’s research has included the discovery and design of materials for generating clean electricity from sunlight and from fuel cells; making fuels and chemicals catalytically from carbon dioxide, water, air, and excess renewable energy; and investigating lightweight metal alloys for fuel-efficient vehicles and fusion reactor walls.

The author of more than 400 publications, Carter is the recipient of numerous honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. She is also the recipient of several major prizes, including the 2017 Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics from the American Physical Society and the 2018 Award in Theoretical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.

This story originally appeared on the School of Engineering and Applied Science website.