Emily A. Carter

Emily Carter-resizedGerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment

Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering & Applied and Computational Mathematics

Professor Carter is the Founding Director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and incoming Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (as of July 1, 2016) at Princeton University. She also holds a joint appointment as the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment as well as Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics. She is also an associated faculty member in Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering (PICSciE), the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM).

Authorized Short Biography

Complete CV


Professor Emily Carter is a theorist/computational scientist first known in her independent career for her research combining ab initio quantum chemistry with molecular dynamics and kinetic Monte Carlo simulations, especially as applied to etching and growth of silicon. Later, she merged quantum mechanics, applied mathematics, and solid state physics to construct a linear scaling orbital-free density functional theory (OFDFT) that can treat unprecedented numbers of atoms quantum mechanically (recent breakthroughs in nonlocal energy functionals extend OFDFT to much of the periodic table), an embedded correlated wavefunction theory that combines quantum chemistry with periodic DFT to treat condensed matter ground and excited electronic states and strongly correlated materials (furnishing, e.g., the first ab initio view of the many-body Kondo state of condensed matter physics), and fast algorithms for ab initio multi-reference correlated electronic wavefunction methods that permit accurate thermochemical kinetics and excited states to be predicted for large molecules. She was a pioneer in quantum-based multiscale simulations of materials that eliminate macroscopic empirical constitutive laws and that led to new insights into, e.g., shock Hugoniot behavior of iron and stress-corrosion cracking of steel. Earlier, her doctoral research furnished new understanding into homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, while her postdoctoral work presented the condensed matter simulation community with the widely used rare event sampling method known as the Blue Moon Ensemble. Her research into how materials fail due to chemical and mechanical effects furnished proposals for how to optimally protect these materials against failure (e.g., by doping, alloying, or coating). Her current research is focused entirely on enabling discovery and design of molecules and materials for sustainable energy, including converting sunlight to electricity and fuels, providing clean electricity from solid oxide fuel cells, clean and efficient combustion of biofuels, and optimizing lightweight metal alloys for fuel-efficient vehicles and fusion reactor walls.

Professor Carter received her B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1982 (graduating Phi Beta Kappa) and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Caltech in 1987. After a year as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, she spent the next 16 years on the faculty of UCLA as a Professor of Chemistry and later also of Materials Science and Engineering. She moved to Princeton University in 2004. She holds courtesy appointments in Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and three interdisciplinary institutes (PICSciE, PRISM, and PEI). The author of over 335 publications, she has delivered more than 500 invited lectures all over the world and serves on numerous international advisory boards spanning a wide range of disciplines. Her scholarly work has been recognized by a number of national and international awards and honors from a variety of entities, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Vacuum Society, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. She received the 2007 ACS Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, was elected in 2008 to both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, in 2009 was elected to the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science, in 2011 was awarded the August Wilhelm von Hoffmann Lecture of the German Chemical Society, in 2012 received a Docteur Honoris Causa from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in 2013 was awarded the Sigillo D’Oro (Golden Sigillum) Medal of the Italian Chemical Society, in 2014 was named the Linnett Visiting Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, in 2015 was awarded the Joseph O. Hirschfelder Prize in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in 2016 was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, among other honors.

Featured Honors

Fred Kavli Innovations in Chemistry Lecturer, American Chemical Society
Member, National Academy of Engineering (www.nae.edu)
2015-16 Joseph O. Hirschfelder Prize in Theoretical Chemistry, Theoretical Chemistry Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
2014 Ira Remsen Award, Maryland Section of the American Chemical Society, Johns Hopkins University
Sigillo D’Oro (Golden Sigillum) Medal, Italian Chemical Society, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy
Docteur Honoris Causa from L’Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL)
August Wilhelm von Hofmann Lecture Award, German Chemical Society
Member, International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science
Member, National Academy of Sciences (www.nationalacademies.org)
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (www.amacad.org)