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Mathematics professor earns top honors from AMS-SIAM

December 2020
Gunther Uhlmann

Gunther Uhlmann, Walker Family Endowed Professor of Mathematics, was named the recipient of the 2021 George David Birkhoff Prize in Applied Mathematics. The Birkhoff Prize is awarded every three years by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) for outstanding contributions to applied mathematics.

The announcement from AMS-SIAM noted Uhlmann’s contributions to inverse problems and partial differential equations, as well as his work on cloaking technology. “Uhlmann’s work is distinguished by its mathematical beauty and relevance to many significant applications, especially in medical imaging, seismic prospecting and general inverse problems.”

The 2021 award marks the fourteenth Birkhoff Prize since it was established in 1967 to honor George David Birkhoff, former AMS president and a longtime Harvard mathematics professor.

“Several of the previous recipients of the award are some of my mathematical heroes,” noted Uhlmann. “I would like to also thank my collaborators, graduate students, and postdocs, who have enriched my life both professionally and personally.”

“Gunther Uhlmann has been a pioneer and world leader in the foundations and applications of inverse problems,” said Daniel Pollack, divisional dean of natural sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. “He, and the large numbers of students and postdoctoral researchers who have worked with him at the University of Washington, have had an enormous international impact on this area of mathematics. It is wonderful to see him so appropriately recognized with the prestigious Birkhoff Prize.”

Uhlmann was born in Quillota, Chile and studied mathematics as an undergraduate at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, later receiving a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He joined the University of Washington in 1985 after holding positions at MIT, Harvard and the Courant Institute. He is an invited speaker and lecturer at international conferences and gatherings, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.

Uhlmann will be formally recognized during the virtual Joint Mathematics Meetings in January.