Avenger of the Week | Karen Uhlenbeck, First Woman Awarded the Abel Prize

Women in math are finally getting their moment. Mathematical contributions by women to the direction of technology and innovation, both past and present, are being recognized at last.


Since it began in 2003, the Abel Prize, modeled after the Nobel Prize and the highest award in mathematics, has only been awarded to men, but not this year. In 2019, the Abel Prize has been awarded to its first woman recipient, University of Texas professor and mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck, for her work at the intersection of mathematics and physics. In addition to her brilliant research, Uhlenbeck is the co-founder of the Institute for Advanced Study’s Women and Mathematics Program, which works to “recruit and empower women to lead in mathematics research.”

Of her work, Jim Al-Khalili of The Royal Society said, “The recognition of Uhlenbeck’s achievements should have been far greater, for her work has led to some of the most important advances in mathematics in the last 40 years.” We are thrilled that she is finally getting the recognition she deserves and look forward to all the future awards given to women for whom Uhlenbeck has paved the way.

Congratulations to Karen Uhlenbeck, the first woman awarded the @abel_prize for her work in math & physics. It took 16 years for the #AbelPrize to recognize a woman - hopefully there are more to come. #GenderAvenger https://www.genderavenger.com/blog/avenger-of-the-week-karen-uhlenbeck-abel-prize