Provost Emily Carter honored for research into sustainable energy

Nov 8, 2019

By UCLA Newsroom

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Emily Carter, distinguished professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, is being honored as a recipient of the 2019 John Scott Award for her research that has made her a leading voice on climate change.

Carter’s research focuses on the development and application of quantum mechanics–based computer simulation tools to enable discovery and design of molecules and materials for sustainable energy, including converting sunlight to electricity; producing chemicals and fuels from renewable energy, carbon dioxide, air and water; and optimizing liquid metal alloys for future fusion reactor walls.

Carter, who is UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost, is one of three scientists who will share the award, which is given each year in memory of Benjamin Franklin.

“I strongly believe that there will not be one solution [to climate change] but a portfolio of them,” Carter said. “I was very deliberate in asking myself what I could do with my expertise to attack as many solutions as once, knowing that collaboration and the introduction of different perspectives is crucial to having a larger impact.”

Noting that more than half the world’s population lives in cities and is steadily increasing, Carter said: “I thought if we could figure out how to make our own backyard at UCLA — and the extraordinary megacity of L.A. as a whole — sustainable, resilient, equitable, and livable, among all these different cultures and experiences that exist in the beautiful patchwork quilt of immigrant cultures that comprise L.A., then perhaps we could export those best practices for social and technological interventions out to other cities around the world. We could transform the planet and ensure a positive future for generations to come.”

Carter will receive her honor at the Scott Award ceremony, which will be held at the American Philosophical Society (founded by Franklin) on Nov. 15 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The other recipients are physicists Charles Kane and Eugene Mele.

“The John Scott Award honors ingenuity and a devotion to science in the memory of Dr. Franklin, and we are truly honored by the spectacular work of this year’s awardees, whose research is helping to save our planet while also guiding our understanding about the world itself,” said Ronald Donatucci, president of the Board of City Trusts, which administers the award on behalf of John Scott, an 18th century Scottish chemist who bequeathed the annual prize bearing his name as a tribute to his hero, Benjamin Franklin.

Previous winners of the Scott Award, which includes $10,000 for each individual awardee – and the striking of a copper medal for the winners, are some of the most famous scientists in the world, including past winners of the Nobel Prize.

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