Carnegie Mellon University
June 19, 2017

Mathematical Sciences Professor Irene Fonseca Joins the Abel Committee

The Abel Prize is considered to be the top prize recognizing lifetime contributions to mathematics

By Jocelyn Duffy

Carnegie Mellon mathematician Irene Fonseca has been appointed to the Abel Committee by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. She will serve a two-year term on the committee, which is responsible for selecting the winner of the prestigious Abel Prize.

The Abel Prize is the most important prize recognizing contributions to mathematics over the course of a career and is considered by many to be the equivalent of a Nobel Prize. Carnegie Mellon alumnus and Nobel Laureate John Nash (S 1948) won the award in 2015.

A member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty since 1987, Fonseca is the director of the university’s Center for Nonlinear Analysis (CNA). One of the few centers in the United States to receive significant federal funding for research in applied mathematics, the CNA focuses on research, education and training in applied mathematics at the intersection of math and the physical sciences and engineering. She also directs the Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project, a National Science Foundation-funded, multi-institution initiative that addresses issues in applied mathematics and mechanics arising from materials science.

One of the world’s leading researchers in the field of applied mathematics, Fonseca’s research lies at the interface of applied analysis with materials and imaging sciences. In particular, her work focuses on the mathematical study of a variety of novel man-made materials, including ferroelectric, magnetic and magnetostrictive materials, shape memory alloys, composites and liquid crystals. She also studies the variational analysis of denoising, detexturing, inpainting and recolorization in computer vision.

Fonseca has received wide-spread recognition for her achievements in applied mathematics. In 2012, she became the second woman to be elected president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to mathematics and computational science. In 1997, she was bestowed knighthood in Portugal’s Military Order of St. James. She is a fellow of SIAM and the American Mathematical Society. 

At Carnegie Mellon, Fonseca received the endowed Mellon College of Science Professorship in 2003. In 2014, she was named a University Professor, the highest distinction that can be bestowed on a professor at the university.