3rd Annual Carnot Prize Awarded to Gina McCarthy

Philadelphia, PA — The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design awarded the 2017 Carnot Prize today to the Honorable Gina McCarthy, former Administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Carnot Prize, named after the 17th century French scientist Sadi Carnot, recognizes those like Carnot who have revolutionized our understanding of energy policy.

“It’s an honor to receive this award and to join the many individuals who have changed how we see and how we solve our greatest energy and public health challenges,” said McCarthy.

In her remarks, McCarthy encouraged students to use what they’ve learned to make a positive difference in the world, “by defending science and creating innovative tools and policies to tackle our greatest environmental threats so we can save lives and build a healthier future.”

The Honorable Lynn Scarlett, Co-Chief External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy, and former Acting Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior, made keynote remarks on the relationship between science and policy. She then presented the award to McCarthy.

“Gina McCarthy’s career exemplifies the courage, creativity, and commitment required to make great changes in energy policy,” said Kleinman Center faculty director Mark Alan Hughes. “She is an inspiration to the rising generation of leaders at Penn and around the world.”


Recent Work. From 2013 to January 2017, McCarthy served as thirteenth Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Barack Obama. In 2015, under McCarthy’s leadership, the EPA finalized the Clean Power Plan, to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation. Other significant policies and regulations established during McCarthy’s time at the EPA included tightening ozone pollution standards, improving coal ash disposal, issuing rules to protect U.S. waters from pollution, and developing first-ever limits on methane emissions on the oil and gas sector.

Current Work. McCarthy is an Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and the Richard L. and Ronay A. Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Past Work. Prior to assuming the role of EPA Administrator, McCarthy served as Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation from 2009 to 2013. She was Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009, and served as environmental advisor to both Democratic and Republican governors of the state of Massachusetts—most recently Mitt Romney. McCarthy is a Boston native and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1976. In 1981 she received her M.Sc. in Environmental Health Engineering and Planning and Policy from Tufts University.

Awards & Honors. McCarthy has received numerous awards for her environmental leadership including the 2016 Conservationist of the Year Award from the National Wildlife Federation. Last year she also received the Horizon Award for Environmental Leadership from Harvard’s Environmental Law Program, for extraordinary contributions to environmental law and policy. In 2014, the Energy Efficiency Forum inducted her into the Energy Efficiency Hall of Fame.


The Carnot Prize is named in memory of French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which is now recognized as the first statement of what is now known as the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development. The Carnot Prize is intended to honor those leading revolutions in energy policy to further progress and prosperity.


Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy cultivates energy policy innovation and promotes its application—creating opportunities for students, researchers, and professionals to debate viewpoints, explore options, and develop agendas for decision and action.

For event highlights, visit or follow us on social media at #CarnotPrize.

Lindsey Samahon
(484) 362-8316