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Bristol mathematician set to mingle with Hollywood stars after winning prestigious science prize

Dr Laura Monk will be heading to Los Angeles for the Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony in April

(L-R) Peter W. Shor, Gilles Brassard, Kristen Bell, Dr. Mae Jemison and Charles H. Bennett attend the Ninth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles 2023.(Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Press release issued: 14 September 2023

A University of Bristol mathematician has been named as one of winners of the 2024 Breakthrough Prizes, a prestigious set of accolades dubbed the ‘Oscars of Science’ which boasts an awards ceremony featuring many A-List celebrities.

Dr Laura Monk, Research Associate in the School of Mathematics at the University of Bristol, is one of three women to receive a $50,000 Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize, awarded to talented female mathematicians who have recently completed their PhDs.

Dr Monk received her prize for her work which has advanced our understanding of random hyperbolic surfaces of large genus. Dr Monk’s research is in the field of spectral geometry, an area of maths studying the relationship between the vibrational modes of surfaces and their geometry. The novelty of her approach lies in bringing new probabilistic methods in a long-established field of pure mathematics.

“I was delighted when I found out I had won the Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize, it is a real honour to be recognised by my peers in this way,” Dr Monk said.

“I am excited to attend the awards ceremony, which is sure to be an amazing experience. It is particularly meaningful to me to be awarded this prize because my work is deeply motivated by the beautiful contributions of Maryam Mirzakhani to random hyperbolic geometry.”

The Breakthrough Prize was created in 2012 to celebrate the wonders of science by founding sponsors Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Sergey Brin, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki.

The top five prizes are worth $3m each, and the Breakthrough Prize has a glamourous gala awards ceremony complete with A-list presenters.

The 2023 ceremony was held at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, hosted by James Corden, and presenters included Kristin Bell, Robert Downey Jr, Lily Collins, Gal Gadot, and Brie Larson.

The 2024 awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Saturday 13 April next year.

For more information about the Breakthrough Prize, visit: Breakthrough Prize.

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