Karen Uhlenbeck is first woman to win Norwegian Abel Prize in Maths
Uhlenbeck is being honored for ‘her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape’
Oslo — University of Texas emeritus professor Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck became the first woman to win the Norwegian Abel Prize in Mathematics.
Uhlenbeck is a founder of modern geometric analysis and has won the six-million-krone ($700,000) prize, according to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
Uhlenbeck is honored for “her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape,” said Hans Munthe-Kaas, chair of the Abel Committee. “Her theories have revolutionised our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimisation problems in higher dimensions.”
The committee said that Uhlenbeck’s work in gauge theory, or the mathematical language of theoretical physics, has played a key role in understanding models in particle physics string theory and general relativity.
Uhlenbeck was born in Cleveland, Ohio, as the oldest of four children to a father who was an engineer and a mother who was an artist and school teacher. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her PhD from from Brandeis University.
The Abel Prize was established by the Norwegian government in 2002 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel’s birth.