U.Va. Professor is First Woman to Win International Mathematics Prize

June 7, 2011 — Irena Lasiecka, professor of mathematics in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected by her peers worldwide to receive one of the top prizes in the field of differential equations and control theory.

Lasiecka will be awarded the 2011 W.T. and Idalia Reid Prize, joining "a very distinguished list of winners dating back to the inception of the prize in 1994," according to the executive director of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, which sponsors the annual prize in a specific area of applied mathematics. She is the first woman to receive the award, which includes an engraved medal and a cash prize of $10,000. She will receive the award at the society's annual meeting in late July and has been invited to present a plenary lecture at the conference.

Lasiecka is receiving the Reid Prize in recognition of her cumulative mathematical work in the field of partial differential equations and their control. Various researchers in this field have assisted engineers in aerospace research, such as controlling turbulence and flutter speed, and new applications for this advanced math are being adapted for use in biology, economics, political science and medical science.  Lasiecka, who joined the University as a full professor in 1987, is one of just 19 U.Va. faculty members – and the sole woman – included in a list of the world's most highly cited researchers compiled by the international online research database ISI Highly Cited.com. The list includes less than half of 1 percent of all published researchers in a given field whose work is referred to frequently by their professional peers.

At U.Va., Lasiecka has advised more than 20 Ph.D. students. She was a co-adviser to Daniel Ioan Tătaru, now a full professor at the University of California at Berkeley, who was one of two 2002 winners of the prestigious Bôcher Memorial Prize of the American Mathematical Society.

She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Warsaw. Among her professional associations is service on the advisory scientific board of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Lasiecka's scholarly achievements have been supported by the Division of Mathematical Sciences of the National Science Foundation, which has funded her research without interruption for three decades. She recently received a five-year grant from the agency. Her work has also been funded by the research departments of the U.S. Army and Air Force.

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics has more than 13,000 members worldwide and is the leading organization in applied mathematics. Nominations for the Reid Prize were "received from around the world," according to the society's executive director, James Crowley. 

— By Carl Briggs

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications