Uhlenbeck has always blazed a trail for women in mathematics. Her plenary lecture at the 1990’s International Congress of Mathematicians was the first delivered by a woman since Emmy Noether in 1932.

When she was awarded the American Mathematical Society’s Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research in 2007, she blamed the culture of the mathematical community for the small number of women in leadership positions. In a self-deprecating summation of her award-winning work, she said “changing the culture is a momentous task in comparison to the other minor accomplishments I have mentioned”.

First awarded in 2003, the Abel Prize is presented by the King of Norway to a mathematician who has made extraordinary contributions to the field. Previous winners include Andrew Wiles for his proof of Fermat’s last theorem, and Nobel-prizewinning game theorist John Nash, who was made famous by the movie *A Beautiful Mind*. Read article at New Scientist