MEDIA RELEASE — April 12, 2012

Canadian Mathematical Society

April 12, 2012


Ailana Fraser to Receive CMS 2012 Krieger-Nelson Prize

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Ailana Fraser (University of British Columbia) is the recipient of the 2012 Krieger-Nelson Prize.

The Krieger-Nelson Prize was inaugurated in 1995 by the CMS to recognize female mathematicians who have made outstanding contributions to mathematical research. The award is named after Cecelia Krieger, the first woman to earn a mathematics doctorate from a Canadian university, and Evelyn Nelson, an ardent researcher, referee, and reviewer.

“Ailana Fraser is one of Canada's leading geometric analysts,” states Lia Bronsard, Chair of the CMS Research Committee. "Her outstanding contributions to minimal surfaces and their applications to geometric and topological problems have made an impact to the field of Differential Geometry and Geometric PDE's that is recognized internationally. Her prominence in the mathematics community makes her an ideal recipient of this award and a perfect role model for young female mathematicians.”

The field of Geometrical analysis is fascinating and involves studying such famous problems as that of finding minimal surfaces with prescribed boundary data, which one can visualize intuitively by diping a wire in a soap solution.

Fraser has made important contributions to the theory of minimal surfaces including existence and Morse index estimates. She has also found striking applications to Riemannian geometry and to extremal eigenvalue questions for surfaces.

“Dr. Fraser is an outstanding young geometer with several very significant results under her belt,” said Prof. William P. Minicozzi II (John Hopkins University), in his letter of support of Fraser’s nomination. In addition he notes that "she has given new life to an area which many people have worked in.”

Fraser developed the variational theory for minimal surfaces with boundary, in case the boundary is allowed to move freely on a submanifold. The critical points are then minimal surfaces satisfying a free boundary condition. She also proved sharp Morse index bounds on such solutions under assumptions on the boundary principal curvatures and the curvature of the ambient manifold.

She applied minimal surface theory in a novel way to give the first restrictions on the fundamental group of Riemannian manifolds of positive isotropic curvature. The condition of positive isotropic curvature is currently a central topic of study because of its connections with sphere theorems and the Ricci flow.

In joint work with Richard Schoen, she has shown that free boundary minimal surfaces in euclidean balls realize extremals of the first eigenvalue of the Dirichlet to Neumann map for surfaces of a fixed area. For surfaces of genus zero they were able to characterize the extremal surfaces which arise.

Dr. Ailana Fraser was born in Toronto and received her PhD in 1998 from Stanford University under the direction of Richard Schoen. Before returning to Canada she held a postdoctoral position at the Courant Institute and a Tamarkin Assistant Professorship at Brown University. She is currently Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia.

She has given several plenary lectures, including an Invited Address at the AMS Eastern Section Meeting in 2006. She received the Cuthbert C. Hurd Scholarship in Mathematical Sciences at Stanford University, an NSERC University Faculty Award at UBC from 2002 to 2007, and was awarded an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement in 2010. She has organized numerous conferences, and served on NSERC's Scholarships and Fellowships Selection Committee from 2008 to 2011.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica St-James
Communications and Special Projects Officer
Canadian Mathematical Society
(613) 722-2662 ext. 728
or Lia Bronsard
Chair, CMS Research Committee
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 23418

About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)

The CMS is the national mathematics organization whose goal is to promote the advancement, discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS annually sponsors mathematics awards and prizes that recognize outstanding mathematical achievements.