Karen Uhlenbeck: The First Woman to Win an Abel Prize

Are you aware of who the first woman to have won an extraordinarily prestigious award called the Abel Prize is? As well as who the co-founder of the Institute’s Women and Mathematics program is? Who is also seen as a role model for young women who are going into mathematics and are in leadership positions all over the world?

If not, now you do. Her name is Karen Uhlenbeck, a professor at the University of Texas. She has been awarded the Abel Prize, announced on March 19, 2019, as reported by Live Science.

What is the Abel Prize? On the Abel Prize site, it is explained that the prize is awarded by His Majesty King Harald V, the King of Norway, to recognize “contributions to the field of mathematics that are of extraordinary depth and influences.” On May 21, 2019, the award will be presented to Karen Uhlenbeck in Oslo. This award also comes with 6 million Norwegian kroner, which is equivalent to 700,000 U.S. dollars.​

CNN reported, Uhlenbeck’s important role in mathematics to be awarded for one of the astonishingly, important prizes for mathematicians.

“Uhlenbeck’s most famous contribution was her theories of predictive mathematics inspired by soap bubbles. The thin, curved surface area of a soap bubble is an example of a “minimal surface; a surface that forms itself into a shape that takes up the least amount of area.”

This impacted researchers’ understandings on a wide range of scientific studies.

On the release from Princeton University, Karen Uhlenbeck explained how she is aware of how she is a role model, finding it difficult because is it essential to display an example that one can succeed as an imperfect person.