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01-08-2018

The 2018 Fields Medals were awarded today to four outstanding mathematicians. Amongst these is European Research Council grantee Prof. Alessio Figalli working at ETH Zürich (Switzerland), who received an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2016. The Fields Medal was awarded for his work studying Partial Differential Equations and the Calculus of Variations. Amongst the different problems addressed by Figalli's work is the optimal transport theory - a study of the ideal allocation of resources in everyday transport problems that have interested mathematicians since Napoleonic times.

The other three laureates are Akshay Venkatesh, Caucher Birkar and Peter Scholze. The Medals were announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) taking place from 1 – 9 August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Congratulations to this year's four new Fields Medallists. The Fields Medal, the highest international distinction for young mathematicians, is recognition of a career of hard work and successes achieved through passion and dedication. I am delighted that amongst today's winners is European mathematician Alessio Figalli, supported by the European Research Council. This confirms that the ERC, which supports excellent science through competitive funding under Horizon 2020, is a magnet for scientific talent and a successful example of the EU's drive to encourage high quality research and innovation."

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented: "On behalf of the European Research Council, I would like to warmly congratulate all mathematicians who have been distinguished at the opening of the International Congress of Mathematicians 2018 in Rio de Janeiro for their outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics and its applications. My special congratulations go to the Fields Medallist Alessio Figalli, a brilliant scientist whose early career development I had the privilege to witness in France. He then left for the US, but later returned to ETH Zurich where he now conducts research supported by the ERC. This top award is one more sign that the ERC continues to identify and fund the most promising researchers across Europe; this is true of course not only for mathematics but for all scientific disciplines."

Alessio Figalli, Full Professor and Chair of Mathematics at ETH Zürich (Switzerland), works on the theory of optimal transportation and is an expert on functional and geometric inequalities. He received an ERC Consolidator grant in 2016 to investigate fundamental problems in the field of partial differential equations and the calculus of variations. Such problems include Monge-Ampère equations, transport equations, and stability in functional inequalities, which through his previous research have been found to share deep mathematical connections. Read our interview with Prof. Alessio.

Since 1936, 56 mathematicians have been honoured with Fields Medals, including three whose research was funded by an ERC grant at the time of their award: Prof. Artur Avila (in 2014) and Prof. Martin Hairer (2014), and Prof. Stanislav Smirnov (2010). ERC grantees Prof. Simon K. Donaldson and Prof. Elon Lindenstrauss were also awarded the Medal in 1986 and 2010 respectively, before receiving ERC funding.

About the Fields Medals and the IMU

The Fields Medals are awarded by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) once every four years to up to four mathematicians under the age of 40. The Prize recognises and rewards young mathematicians who have made major contributions to the field of mathematics and who hold promises for future achievements.
ICM website. See the full ERC programme at the 2018 ICM Congress.

About the ERC

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between grantees' pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation. To date, the ERC has funded some 9,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe.

The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The ERC's President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.