Angkana Rüland to receive illustrious New Horizons Prize

Already the third prize of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation within the last two years for female mathematicians from Bonn

Photo: Gregor Hübl / University of Bonn

Bonn, 14.09.2023. Angkana Rüland is to be presented with the illustrious New Horizons Prize for her outstanding work on applied analysis. The high-caliber $100,000 award is conferred by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. The 35-year-old researcher was only appointed to one of its prestigious Hausdorff Chairs at the start of the year. In her research, she draws inspiration from problems encountered in the natural sciences.

"I was taken completely by surprise and I am extremely happy,” Angkana Rüland says, describing her initial reaction to the message from the chairperson of the awards committee. He then made time for a video call in order to chat to the newly crowned winner in person. As to how she plans to use the $100,000 that comes with the award, Angkana Rüland is yet undecided. “I would like to donate part of the prize money to the Bonn Math Club, which I used to work for as a student myself and which supports young math talents.” The researcher is receiving the New Horizons Prize in Mathematics for her work on applied analysis, more specifically on investigating microstructures in solid-solid phase transitions in certain materials and her research on inverse problems.

“I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Angkana Rüland on receiving this high-caliber award! The prize is an impressive recognition of her excellent scientific achievements at the interface of mathematics, physics and engineering sciences,” says Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn. “She has maintained close ties with Bonn mathematicians, who rank among the top in the world, for a long time. That’s why we were all the more delighted when we were able to appoint her, as an outstanding researcher, to one of the internationally renowned Hausdorff Chairs at our Hausdorff Center for Mathematics Cluster of Excellence this year. Together with her team, she will continue to advance mathematics and science as a whole in a crucial way.”

In her research into microstructures, she is particularly interested in a class of alloys that have shape-memory properties. This means that, for example, a severely bent paper clip made of such a material will return to its original state as if by magic when it is heated up. The secret lies in special lattice structures that are combined in different ways, just like individual building blocks, and thus influence the material’s behavior. “This opens up many highly fascinating and challenging questions from a mathematical perspective.”

The mathematician also studies what is known as inverse problems, which is about reconstructing information from indirect measurements—such as is done with X-ray tomography or ultrasound scans, for instance. “This indirect information lets you infer information on someone’s body without having to take any tissue samples,” Angkana Rüland explains. Phenomena like this can also be found in nature, such as the ultrasound echolocation of bats. “My research is primarily concerned with a specific class of these problems, the so-called Calderón problem, and nonlocal versions of it.”

Angkana Rüland's New Horizons in Mathematics Prize is the third Breakthrough Prize Foundation award in the last two years to go to female mathematicians at HCM. Last year, Ana Caraini also received a New Horizons in Mathematics Prize and Vera Traub was awarded a Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize.


Angkana Rüland is an alumna of the University of Bonn and took part in the mathematics branch of its “Fördern, Fordern, Forschen” (FFF) early studies program while she was still at school. After obtaining her Abitur, she continued her mathematics studies at the University of Bonn and helped to set up the Bonn Math Club for 13- to 16-year-olds. She completed her doctorate under Professor Herbert Koch at the Mathematical Institute in 2014, being awarded the “Hausdorff Memorial Prize” for the best doctoral thesis in mathematics. Angkana Rüland then moved to the University of Oxford to work as a postdoctoral researcher, before being named head of a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig in 2017. She was appointed as a W3 professor at Heidelberg University in 2020. 2023 saw her return to Bonn, where she is enhancing what is already an outstanding group of top-level researchers at the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics as holder of a Hausdorff Chair.

About the prizes

Set up in 2012 by its sponsors Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki, the Breakthrough Prize is the world’s largest international science prize to be awarded annually according to the foundation that administers it. Each of the five main awards—three in life sciences and one each in fundamental physics and mathematics—is worth \$3 million. The New Horizons Prizes in physics and mathematics, which are reserved for early-career researchers, each bring in \$100,000. A total of \$15.75 million is to be given out this year. The Breakthrough Prize, which is also known as the “Oscars of Science,” is presented at a live gala event.