Dr. Uhlenbeck was born in Ohio in 1942. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1964 and her M.A. and Ph.D. (1966 and 1968 respectively) from Brandeis University where she worked under the supervision of Richard Palais. After moving around for a few years, Dr. Uhlenbeck became the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chairholder at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is currently a professor emeritus. She also holds positions as a visiting associate at the Institute for Advanced Study and as a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University.
In March 2019, Dr. Uhlenbeck became the first woman to win the Abel Prize for her work in partial differential equations, gauge theory, and integrable systems. She is one of the founders of the field of geometric analysis which uses differential geometry to study solutions to differential equations.
Dr. Uhlenbeck has received several other awards as well. She won the National Medal of Science in 2000 and the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research of the American Mathematical Society in 2007. She is a MacArthur Fellow and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1986. She is also a Guggenheim Fellow, an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society, and a Fellow of the AMS. She gave the Noether Lecture for the Association of Women in Mathematics in 1988. In 1990, she was a plenary speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians where she was only the second woman after Emmy Noether to give such a lecture.
In 1991, Dr. Uhlenbeck co-founded the Park City Mathematics Institute with Herbert Clemens and Dan Freed. She also co-founded the Women and Mathematics Program at the Institute for Advanced Study. She has served as a role model, particularly for young women in mathematics, throughout her entire career.
For more information about Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck, see her Wikipedia page, her personal profile, this inclusion/exclusion blog post, our previous post, or any of the hundreds of articles that have been posted about her since her Abel Prize was announced.