The Abel Prize in mathematics was on Tuesday awarded to Karen Uhlenbeck of the United States for her work on partial differential equations, the first woman to win the award, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said.

“Karen Uhlenbeck receives the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape,” said Abel Committee chairman Hans Munthe-Kaas 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,” he said.

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 Academy said.

She is also a role model and a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.

She is the first woman to win the prize, which comes with a cheque for six million kroner (620,000 euros, $703,000).

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.

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