First Female professor to win one of the world’s most prestigious mathematics awards

Just recently, Karen Uhlenbeck– an american professor- has become the first woman to be awarded the Abel Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious international mathematics awards. Yes! Uhlenbeck is a mathematician and a professor at the University of Texas and is now the first woman ever to win this prize ever since it was first founded in 2003.

Dr, Karen Uhlenbeck

Named after 19th Century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, the prize is awarded to laureates who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of mathematics. The Abel Committee recognized Uhlenbeck “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.”  (yes it went straight over my head too, but yay karen!)

The award, which is modeled by the Nobel Prize, is awarded by the king of Norway to honor mathematicians who have made an influence in their field including a cash prize of around $700,000. (Um, wow. I’m just thinking of all the stuff she can splurge on now- sorry shopaholic tendencies)

In simpler words, the award to Karen cites for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics. This award exists since 2003 but has only been won by men since.

Among her colleagues, Dr. Uhlenbeck is renowned for her work in geometric partial differential equations as well as integrable systems and gauge theory. One of her most famous contributions were her theories of predictive mathematics and in pioneering the field of geometric analysis.

This is what Sun-Yung Alice Chang, a mathematician at Princeton University (who was in the prize committee) had to say about Dr. Karen:


“She did things nobody thought about doing, and after she did, she laid the foundations of a branch of mathematics.”

Women are definitely stepping up their game in all the areas of life. So proud of these women. More power to you!

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