On Tuesday, an American mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck became the first woman ever, to be awarded with the Abel Prize in mathematics – for her work in partial differential equation.

Over decades, and still in 21st century, the science and research streams are still considered to be extremely “male-dominated”; but breaking the stereotypes and setting a new record – a female American mathematician bagged this year’s Abel Prize – considered to be one of the highest awards in mathematics. The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced on Tuesday that, “Karen Uhlenbeck receives the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape”.

Karen Uhlenbeck is the first woman to receive the Abel Prize, which comes along with a cheque of 6 million Kroners – equivalent to $7,03,000 – for it is the world’s most prestigious international mathematics award. The honoured award is named after the 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, and was established by the Oslo government in 2002 to recognise the remarkable scientific work in maths – a discipline that is not included in the Nobel Prize awards.

The 76-year-old Abel winning mathematician is a senior visiting researcher at the Princeton University, and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) – and the award has been bestowed to her for her work on partial differential equations. As per the Academy, Uhlenbeck has “developed tools and methods in global analysis, which are now in the toolbox of every geometer and analyst”.

Alongside being a brilliant mathematician, Uhlenbeck is also a role model and a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics. Although women are considered to be relatively “new comers” in the field of mathematical research, few exceptionally talented individuals like Uhlenbeck will bring “a change in the air” – as quoted by Claire Voisin – another outstanding woman who won the Shaw Prize in science in 2017.