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News > Science and Tech

Mathematics Abel Prize Awarded to First Woman Recipient

  • U.S. mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck becomes first woman to win Able Prize.

    U.S. mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck becomes first woman to win Able Prize. | Photo: @euronewsknwldge

Published 20 March 2019

Karen Uhlenbeck, who is 76 years old, has contributed to several disciplines, including physics, geometry, and quantum theory. 

The prestigious mathematics award, the Abel Prize, has been rewarded to the first female recipient since the first prize was initially awarded in 2003. 


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Mathematician and University of Texas Professor Karen Uhlenbeck was given the award "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."

In addition to her expertise in the quantitative fields, Professor Uhlenbeck is also an advocate for gender equality.

The Abel Prize is modeled after the Nobel Peace Prize and is awarded by the King of Norway to individuals who have made notable contributions to the field.

The prize includes a cash reward of 6 million Norwegian kroner (US$700,000).

Uhlenbeck, who is 76 years old, has contributed to several disciplines, including physics, geometry and quantum theory. The intersectionality of fields has "led to revolutionary advances at the intersection of mathematics and physics," the dean of University of Texas' College of Natural Sciences, Paul Goldbart, explained. 
Uhlenbeck is best known for her analysis on "minimal surfaces," specifically the thin, curved surface area of soap bubbles. Studying the behavior of the surfaces gives researchers a better understanding of a broad spectrum of phenomena that occur in many scientific studies.

Aside from her studies, Uhlenbeck has co-founded several outreach programs, such as the Park City Mathematics Institute and the Institute's Women and Mathematics Program, which recruit and train young researchers and female mathematicians, respectively. 

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