Kate Okikiolu

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Kate Adebola Okikiolu
Born1965 (age 55–56)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
AwardsPresidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers[1]
Scientific career
FieldsMathematical analysis
Elliptic operators
InstitutionsPrinceton University
Johns Hopkins University
ThesisThe Analogue of the Strong Szego Limit Theorem on the Torus and the 3-Sphere (1991)
Doctoral advisorsSun-Yung Alice Chang
John B. Garnett

Kate Adebola Okikiolu (born 1965) is a British mathematician.[2] She is known for her work with elliptic differential operators as well as her work with inner-city children.

Early life and education[edit]

Okikiolu was born in 1965 in England. Her father was George Olatokunbo Okikiolu, a renowned Nigerian mathematician and the most published black mathematician on record.[3] Her British mother was a high school mathematics teacher. Okikiolu received a B.A. in mathematics from Cambridge University in 1987. In 1991 she earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles, for her thesis The Analogue of the Strong Szego Limit Theorem on the Torus and the 3-Sphere.[3][4][5]


Based on her PhD work, Okikiolu resolved a conjecture of Peter Wilcox Jones concerning a continuous version of the travelling salesman problem, in her paper Characterization of subsets of rectifiable curves in Rn.[6] Okikiolu was an instructor and later assistant professor at Princeton University from 1993 to 1995. She then worked as a visiting assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the faculty at the University of California at San Diego in 1995.[4] In 2011 she joined the Mathematics Department at Johns Hopkins University.

She was an invited speaker at the 1996 meeting of the Association of Women in Mathematics. She also delivered the Claytor-Woodard lecture at the 2002 meeting of the National Association of Mathematicians, an organization for African-American mathematicians.[4]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 1997 won a Sloan Research Fellowship,[7] becoming the first black recipient of this fellowship. In 1997 she also was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for both her mathematical research and her development of mathematics curricula for inner-city school children. This award is given to only 60 scientists and engineers each year and has a prize of $500,000.[4]


  1. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Kate Okikiolu", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
  2. ^ "Katherine Okikiolu - Mathematicians of the African Diaspora". www.math.buffalo.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  3. ^ a b Paulus Gerdes (2007). African Doctorates in Mathematics. Lulu.com. African Mathematical Union. Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa. p. 26. ISBN 9781430318675.
  4. ^ a b c d Spangenburg, Ray; Moser, Kit (2003). African Americans in science, math, and invention. New York, NY: Facts on File. ISBN 0816048061.
  5. ^ Kate Okikiolu at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  6. ^ Okikiolu, Kathleen (1992). "Characterization of subsets of rectifiable curves in Rn" (PDF). J. London Math. Soc. 46 (2): 336–348. doi:10.1112/jlms/s2-46.2.336. Retrieved 20 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Past Fellows, Sloan Foundation, retrieved 2019-09-09 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]