Karen Uhlenbeck: First Woman to Win Abel Prize in Mathematics

On Tuesday, Karen Uhlenbeck, a professor at the University of Texas, became the first woman in the world to win the Abel Prize, an internationally lauded award in mathematics, from The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

On May 21, Uhlenbeck will be presented the award by King Harald V of Norway at a ceremony. Uhlenbeck won 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.” Uhlenbeck helped spearhead geometric analysis and evolved techniques that are now regularly used by mathematicians around the world.

Sun-Yung Alice Chang, who served on the five-member prize committee, stated, “She did things nobody thought about doing and after she did, she laid the foundations of a branch of mathematics.”

The Abel Prize has been awarded annually, since 2003, to emphasize significant advances in mathematics. It is one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics and Uhlenbeck is the first woman of the previous 19 laureates. Uhlenbeck’s win is an achievement for women’s education and also women in the workplace, as they gain recognition for their dedication in work and academics.


Media Resources; The Hill 3/19/19, New York Times 3/19/19, Abel Prize 3/19/19