Carnegie Mellon University Mathematician Irene Fonseca Selected To Deliver the Prestigious Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Carnegie Mellon University Mathematician Irene Fonseca Selected To Deliver the Prestigious Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture

PITTSBURGH—Irene Fonseca, the Mellon College of Science Professor of Mathematics and director of the Center for Nonlinear Analysis at Carnegie Mellon University, has been chosen to deliver the prestigious Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture at the 2006 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) annual meeting this July in Boston. The lecture is sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) in cooperation with SIAM.

Fonseca "is an inspiration to the entire mathematics community, especially to the women's mathematics community," according to an official statement from the AWM. "The Kovalevsky Prize recognizes her fundamental contributions and leadership in analysis and applied mathematics, especially in nonlinear partial differential equations and the calculus of variations."

"Irene possesses an outstanding reputation in research in applied mathematics, and she has made significant contributions to undergraduate and graduate education," said Roy Nicolaides, head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. "She repeatedly puts the department at the forefront of significant activity in applied mathematics."

The AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture is given at the SIAM annual meeting by a woman who has made distinguished contributions in applied or computational mathematics. The lecture is given in honor of Sonia Kovalevsky (1850-1891), the most widely known Russian mathematician of her time and the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics.

Fonseca's research is centered on the calculus of variations, geometric measure theory and partial differential equations. It is motivated, in part, by the study of properties of novel man-made materials and by issues in imaging. Her ability to introduce and apply new mathematical techniques to the materials sciences complements her work as director of the Center for Nonlinear Analysis.

She is also dedicated to promoting mathematical studies beyond the undergraduate years. Fonseca seeks to help undergraduates understand the many opportunities afforded to them by pursuing graduate study and research in mathematics. In addition, her efforts in forming affiliations with other institutions provide graduate and postdoctoral students the maximum amount of opportunities to collaborate and network on an international level.

Fonseca has a strong international presence in the mathematics community. She participates on the boards of several major international universities and research centers, and in 1997 she was bestowed knighthood in the Military Order of St. James (Grande Oficial da Ordem Militar de Sant'Iago da Espada) by the president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio. This order is generally reserved for accomplishments in cultural fields. In Fonseca's case, the award also recognized her contributions to scientific progress in the European Union. She received a Women of Distinction Award in Math and Technology from the Western Pennsylvania Girl Scouts Trillium Council in 2004. The award recognized her leadership and accomplishments, as well as her efforts in encouraging young women to pursue research in mathematics.

The Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon University develops innovative research and educational programs in biological sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and several interdisciplinary areas. For more information, visit

By: Lauren Ward