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Global development
20 Mar  2019 2616

Karen Uhlenbeck was awarded Abel Prize

For the first time, a woman is celebrated as world's greatest mathematician.   

Karen Uhlenbeck, a mathematician and professor at the University of Texas, has been awarded this year's mathematics prize modeled after the Nobels “for her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics”.  

Uhlenbeck, 76, is known for her work with partial differential equations. However, her decades-long career spans multiple disciplines, including physics, geometry and quantum theory.

“Karen Uhlenbeck theories have revolutionized our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimization problems in higher dimensions.” – Hans Munthe-Kaas, Chair of the Abel Committee notes in the official release.

Uhlenbeck developed tools and methods in global analysis, which are now in the toolbox of every geometer and analyst. Her work also lays the foundation for contemporary geometric models in mathematics and physics.

  "Uhlenbeck's research has led to revolutionary advances at the intersection of mathematics and physics," Paul Goldbart, dean of the University of Texas' College of Natural Sciences said in a release. "Her pioneering insights have applications across a range of fascinating subjects, from string theory, which may help explain the nature of reality, to the geometry of space-time."

The Abel Prize is awarded by the King of Norway to mathematicians who have greatly influenced their field, and includes a cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (about $700,000). The first prize was awarded in 2003.

Apart from being a mathematician, but Uhlenbeck is also a role model and a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics. She has co-founded the Institute’s Women and Mathematics program (WAM), created in 1993 to recruit and empower women to lead in mathematics research at all stages of their academic careers.

King Harald V will present the Abel Prize to the laureate at the award ceremony in Oslo on the 21st of May.

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