The √âcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) awarded an honorary doctorate to Professor Emily Carter, founding director of Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, in recognition of her fundamental research in physical chemistry and its applications to developing better materials.

EPFL, regarded as one of the top European universities in engineering, awarded its docteur honoris causa to Carter at its graduation ceremony, Oct. 6, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Carter also delivered a talk, “Quantum Mechanical Evaluation of Energy Conversion Materials for Generating Electricity and Fuels,” at EPFL on Oct. 5.

Asked at the ceremony (see minute 32:29) to offer thoughts on a good choice she made in her career, Carter spoke about her decision five years ago to focus her scientific research on problems of energy and the environment. The decision, she said, grew from reading the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which definitively ascribed changes in the climate to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels.

“I feel I woke up and said ‘I want to do something with real meaning and impact,'” she told EPFL graduates. “And I would urge you to follow your passion and also to think about the meaning and whether what you are doing is a real way to have an impact to make the planet a better place.”

Carter is the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, as well as Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Applied and Computational Mathematics. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

In awarding the honorary degree, EPFL cited Carter for “advances in the development of fundamental density functional theories and multiscale quantum methods, and for the insights their applications have given into surface chemistry and mechanical behavior of metals.”