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IAS Notes: Karen Uhlenbeck

Published 2011

I have spent three periods of time in residency at IAS, and I am looking forward to a fourth in the spring of 2012. In 1979–80, one of the first special years in mathematics at IAS took place, organized by S. T. Yau, who shortly afterwards received a Fields Medal and became a permanent member of the mathematics Faculty. The year was full of activities: we had an eating group, played volleyball, and took part in at least three active ongoing seminars. I had spent two years (during the Vietnam War) at U. C. Berkeley, but since then had not been in the midst of the relatively new field of applying partial differential equations to geometry. The year at IAS allowed me to take part in this development and to form the collaborations that were essential to the next decade of my career. This has been an exciting area of mathematics; the privilege I have had of working in it is partly due to this year at IAS. I returned in 1995 for the fall term, which was a good experience, but too short. I particularly enjoyed meeting Members from other Schools at lunch and tea, and I found it a great place to work, especially to write up material I had worked on for several years. I was then invited to organize a special year in 1997–98, in which I tried to connect researchers working on the algebraic aspects of partial differential equations with those working on more analytic estimates. This is the shadow of difficulty that also exists in theoretical physics. This is a long-term project of mine, which I don’t think has led where I would like to see it go. I hope that I was able to encourage the younger Members, as I had been encouraged eighteen years before. If I have any regrets, it is that I did not spend enough time in contact with Members of other disciplines. I hope to remedy this in the spring of 2012. —Karen K. Uhlenbeck, Professor of Mathematics and Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair, University of Texas, Austin; Member, School of Mathematics, 1979–80, 1995, 1997–98

Published in The Institute Letter Summer 2011