American mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck has become the first woman to win prestigious Abel Prize, widely considered to be the highest honour in the field of Mathematics. Named after 19th Century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, it is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.
The prize also includes cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (about Rs. 4.8 crores).
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.”
The 76-year-old mathematician is a professor emerita (a retired professor who retains the tag) at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University and a visiting associate at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). Her wide-ranging work includes analyzing the “minimal surfaces” of soap bubbles and finding ways to unite geometry and physics through new mathematical approaches.
A fierce advocate of gender equality in mathematics and sciences, Karen is a founder of modern geometric analysis, Abel Committee chair Hans Munthe-Kaas said, according to NPR
“Her perspective has pervaded the field and led to some of the most dramatic advances in mathematics over the last 40 years.” he said
“She did things nobody thought about doing,” Princeton mathematician Sun-Yung Alice Chang, also a part of the five-person committee, told the New York Times. “And after she did, she laid the foundations of a branch of mathematics,” Chang added.