Oxford Mathematician Frances Kirwan has been awarded the Sylvester Medal 2021 "for her research on quotients in algebraic geometry, including links with symplectic geometry and topology, which has had many applications."
The Sylvester Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding researcher in the field of mathematics. The award was created in memory of the mathematician James Joseph Sylvester who was Savilian Professor of Geometry at the University of Oxford in the 1880s, a post now held by Frances Kirwan (the Savilian celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2019). The Sylvester medal was first awarded in 1901. It is of bronze and is accompanied by a gift of £2,000.
Frances's specialisation is algebraic and symplectic geometry, notably moduli spaces in algebraic geometry, geometric invariant theory (GIT), and the link between GIT and moment maps in symplectic geometry.
Frances has received many honours including being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001 (only the third female mathematician to attain this honour), and President of the London Mathematical Society from 2003-2005. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014.
On receiving the award Frances said: "I am honoured to receive this award, especially as it is named after one of my predecessors as Savilian Professor, James Joseph Sylvester, whose work over a hundred years ago on what is today called invariant theory laid the foundations for my own work on geometric invariant theory."