Press Release: Professor Dennis Sullivan Awarded Wolf Prize in Mathematics

Dennis Sullivan, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the Graduate Center, has won the prestigious Wolf Prize for his innovative work in algebraic topology and conformal dynamics. He will share the $100,000 prize in mathematics with Professor Sing-Tung Yau, of Harvard University, who was recognized for his work in geometric analysis.

Five other renowned scientists were named as Wolf Prize-winners in the fields of medicine, physics, and agriculture. The prizes, which were announced in Jerusalem, are to be presented in May by Israeli President Shimon Peres during a special session of the Knesset.

This is the latest of many honors for Professor Sullivan, who holds the Albert Einstein Chair in Science at the Graduate Center and also serves on the mathematics faculty at SUNY Stony Brook. He was awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor, in 2004; the King Faisal International Prize in Science, in 1993; the Elie Cartan Prix en Geometrie from the French Academy of Sciences, in 1981; the Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry from the American Mathematical Society, in 1971; and the New York City Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, in 1997.

In 1991, Professor Sullivan was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the New York Academy of Sciences, and is a former Vice President of the American Mathematical Society.

Before coming to the Graduate Center, Professor Sullivan held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, and Princeton University, and he had a long research association (1973-1996) with the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifique outside Paris. He received his B.A. from Rice University and a Ph.D. from Princeton.

This year’s other Wolf Prize-winners are: Professor Axel Ullrich of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, for cancer research that led to the development of Receptin and other drugs to treat breast cancer; and Sir David Baulcombe of Cambridge University, Great Britain, for demonstrating how plants defend themselves against viral attack through a mechanism known as “gene silencing.” The prize in physics was shared by John F. Clauser, of J.F. Clauser & Associates, in the U.S.; Professor Alain Aspect of France’s École Normale Supérieure de Cachan; and Professor Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna. They were honored for “fundamental conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics.”

The Wolf Prizes have been awarded since 1978 by the Israel-based Wolf Foundation to recognize “achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples, irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex, or political view.” They were established by the late German-born inventor, diplomat and philanthropist Dr. Ricardo Wolf, who served as the Cuban ambassador to Israel from 1961 to 1973.

The Graduate Center is devoted primarily to doctoral studies and awards most of the City University of New York’s Ph.D.s. An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to more than thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.  Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events.  Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

Submitted on: FEB 1, 2010

Category: Mathematics, Press Room