Saturday, July 20, 2019 | ePaper

Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

  • Print


AFP, Oslo :
 Women took another step forward in the still male-dominated world of science Tuesday, as American Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize in mathematics for her work on partial differential equations.
"Karen Uhlenbeck receives the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape," Abel Committee chairman Hans Munthe-Kaas said in a statement.
"Her theories have revolutionised our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimization problems in higher dimensions."
She is the first woman to win the prize, which comes with a cheque for six million kroner (620,000 euros, $703,000). She is also an advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.
"I am aware of the fact that I am a role model for young women in mathematics," said Uhlenbeck, according to a Princeton statement.
"It's hard to be a role model, however, because what you really need to do is show students how imperfect people can be and still succeed… I may be a wonderful mathematician and famous because of it, but I'm also very human."
Uhlenbeck, 76, is a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University, as well as visiting associate at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), both in the US.
The Cleveland native "developed tools and methods in global analysis, which are now in the toolbox of every geometer and analyst," the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said.
With the award, Uhlenbeck joined a still very small club of women who have scored a scientific prize.
Of the 607 Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry or medicine between 1901 and 2018, only 19 women were among the awardees, according to the Nobel Prize website. Marie Curie won twice, once for physics and another time for chemistry.
Only one woman has won the other major international mathematics prize - the Fields Medal - Maryam Mirzakhani of Iran in 2014. She died in 2017.
Princeton mathematician Alice Chang Sun-Yung, who is a member of the Abel committee, said "women are relative 'newcomers" as research mathematicians, so it will take a while for us to get to the level of the 'top prize winners.'"
"There needs to be some 'critical mass,' not a just few truly outstanding exceptional individuals for the math community to recognize and accept women as equally talented (in math) as men," she told AFP.
"But change is coming and is in the air," she added, pointing to wins by Uhlenbeck and Claire Voisin, who won the Shaw Prize in science in 2017.
Named after the 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, the prize was established by the Oslo government in 2002 and first awarded a year later, to honour outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, a discipline not included among the Nobel awards.
Along with the Fields Medal, which is awarded every four years at the Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), it is one of the world's most prestigious maths prizes.

More News For this Category

Pakistan to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav

Pakistan to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav

AFP, New Delhi :Pakistan will grant consular access to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav according to its laws, Pakistan foreign ministry said in a late night statement.The ministry also said

Pence announces sanctions on Iranian-linked leaders in Iraq

Pence announces sanctions on Iranian-linked leaders in Iraq

AP, Washington :Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that the United States is imposing sanctions on the leaders of two Iranian-linked militia groups in Iraq."Let me be clear, the

Somali-born lawmaker brands Trump 'fascist' after rally taunt

Somali-born lawmaker brands Trump 'fascist' after rally taunt

AFP, Washington  :Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar branded Donald Trump a "fascist" on Thursday as the president sought to distance himself from mocking chants of "Send her back!" directed at

UN reaches agreement with Yemen rebels to resume food deliveries

UN reaches agreement with Yemen rebels to resume food deliveries

AFP, United Nations :The World Food Program has reached an agreement in principle with Yemen's Huthi rebels to resume food aid to areas they control, the agency's chief said

News In Brief

Ukraine's President says he backs prisoner swap with RussiaAP, UkraineUkraine's president on Friday outlined the details of an impending prisoner swap with Russia, saying that Kiev is willing to

Merkel criticises Trump comments on congresswomen

Merkel criticises Trump comments on congresswomen

AP, Berlin :German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's comments about Democratic lawmakers of color, saying they run counter to what she considers "the strength

Iran FM at UN accuses US of 'economic terrorism'

Iran FM at UN accuses US of 'economic terrorism'

AFP, United Nations :Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday renewed accusations that the United States was waging "economic terrorism," on a visit to the United Nations during which Washington has sharply

Johnson suggests EU would bear some blame for no-deal Brexit

Johnson suggests EU would bear some blame for no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be Britain's next prime minister, suggested Wednesday that the EU would bear some responsibility if he took his country out of the bloc without a

Myanmar filmmaker charged over facebook posts about military

Myanmar filmmaker charged over facebook posts about military

Reuters, Yangon :A Myanmar judge on Thursday charged filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi for Facebook posts he made about the powerful military, meaning he will stand trial despite concern

US against any country purchasing Russia's S-400 defence system: Pentagon

US against any country purchasing Russia's S-400 defence system: Pentagon

PTI, Washington :The US is keen to make its defence partnership with India stronger, the Pentagon has said, but made it clear that it is against any country purchasing military