Mathematician Mathilde Bouvel is to receive the 2017 Marie Heim-Vögtlin Prize
Mathilde Bouvel, a researcher at the University of Zurich's Institute of Mathematics, is the winner of the 2017 Marie Heim-Vögtlin Prize. The Frenchwoman, who has two young children, is being rewarded for her work in combinatorics. She will receive her prize on 16 November 2017.
The research in combinatorics that Mathilde Bouvel has been carrying out for over ten years has made an important contribution to this branch of mathematics, which is linked to probability and statistics. She has gained particular recognition in the study of pattern avoidance in permutations, which has a wide variety of scientific applications including genomics, computing and statistical physics. The 34-year-old scientist was awarded a Marie Heim-Vögtlin grant from 2014 to 2016 after leaving her job as research officer at the Bordeaux Computer Science Research Laboratory (LaBRI) to follow her husband, who had been appointed assistant professor at the University of Zurich.
Mathilde Bouvel has become increasingly influential over the years. Her research, which also covers the enumerative, analytical and algorithmic aspects of combinatorics, is a source of inspiration for her peers. Her work has been the subject of publications in prestigious mathematics journals, with an impressive list of co-authors. Mathilde Bouvel is also committed to creating a positive atmosphere and establishing a dialogue between mathematicians from around the world in her capacity as organiser and member of the steering committee of the annual international "Permutation Patterns" conference. She is positioned at the leading edge of this rapidly developing field.
Returning from maternity leave in September, Mathilde Bouvel will receive her prize of 25,000 Swiss francs at the University of Zurich on 16 November. The award will be made at the end of the ceremony marking 150 years since the first woman, the Russian Nadezhda Suslova, obtained a doctorate in Switzerland.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has been awarding Marie Heim-Vögtlin grants for 25 years to highly qualified female researchers who interrupted or cut back their activities for family reasons. By funding their research projects for up to two years, this grant is intended to make it easier for these doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows to integrate into an academic environment and enable them to reconcile their scientific careers with their family commitments. The MHV Prize recognises one of these grant holders for the exceptional quality of her research work and her career progression.
New incentive for women researchers
In 2016, 42 female doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows received an MHV grant. From autumn 2017 onwards, outstanding post-doctoral women researchers will benefit from a new funding scheme named PRIMA (Promoting Women in Academia). The SNSF will not launch any further calls for MHV grants.
Marie Heim-Vögtlin, who gave her name to the funding scheme, was the first Swiss woman to be admitted as a student to the faculty of medicine at the University of Zurich in 1868. After she gained her doctorate, she opened a gynaecology practice and continued to work after the birth of her two children. She is a pioneering figure in the fight to give women access to higher education.