Agnes Scott College

Abigail Thompson

Abigail Thompson

June 30, 1958 -

Reprinted with permission from The Notices of the American Mathematical Society, April 2003, Vol. 52, No. 4, p447-448.

Abigail Thompson was born on June 30, 1958, in Norwalk, Connecticut. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1979 and her Ph.D. from Rutgers University [Abstract] in 1986. She held a Lady Davis Fellowship at Hebrew University (1986-87), a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Berkeley (1987-88), a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (1988-1991), and a Sloan Foundation Fellowship (1991-93). In 1990-91 and 2000-01 she was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. Since 1988 she has been on the faculty at the University of California at Davis. She is the director of the California State Summer School in Mathematics and Science at UC Davis, a month-long residential program for talented high school students. Her current research concerns structures of 3-dimensional manifolds. She is married and has three children.

Thompson was awarded the 2003 Satter Prize from the American Mathematical Society. This prize is awarded every two years to recognize an outstanding contribution to mathematics research by a woman in the previous five years. Following is the selection committee's citation:

The Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics is awarded to Abigail Thompson for her outstanding work in 3-dimensional topology. As a consequence of her work, the concept of thin position, first introduced by Gabai for the study of knots in the 3-sphere, has emerged as a major tool for attacking some of the fundamental problems in the study of 3-manifolds. Her paper "Thin position and the recognition problem for S3", Math. Res. Lett. 1 (1994), 613-630, used the idea of thin position to reinterpret Rubenstein's solution to the recognition problem of the 3-sphere in a startling way. Her papers with Martin Scharlemann, "Thin position for 3-maniforlds", Geometric Topology (Haifa, 1992), 231-238, Contemp. Math. 164, Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, RI, 1994; and "Thin position and Heegaard splittings of the 3-sphere", J. Differential Geom. 39 (1994), 343-357, provide remarkable applications of thin position to Heegaard splittings of 3-manifords. Her 1997 paper "Thin position and bridge number for knots in the 3-sphere", Topology 36 (1997), 505-507, gives a completely unexpected connection in the case of knots in 3-spheres between thin position and the much more classical notion of bridge position.


  1. Thompson's home page at USC Davis
  2. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  3. Author Profile at zbMath
  4. Mathematics Genealogy Project