Let $G$ be a simple linear algebraic group over an algebraically closed field $K$ of characteristic $p \geq 0$. In this thesis, we investigate closed connected reductive subgroups $X < G$ that contain a given distinguished unipotent element $u$ of $G$. Our main result is the classification of all such $X$ that are maximal among the closed connected subgroups of $G$. When $G$ is simple of exceptional type, the result is easily read from the tables computed by Lawther (J. Algebra, 2009). Our focus is then on the case where $G$ is simple of classical type, say $G = \operatorname{SL}(V)$, $G = \operatorname{Sp}(V)$, or $G = \operatorname{SO}(V)$. We begin by considering the maximal closed connected subgroups $X$ of $G$ which belong to one of the families of the so-called \emph{geometric subgroups}. Here the only difficult case is the one where $X$ is the stabilizer of a tensor decomposition of $V$. For $p = 2$ and $X = \operatorname{Sp}(V_1) \otimes \operatorname{Sp}(V_2)$, we solve the problem with explicit calculations; for the other tensor product subgroups we apply a result of Barry (Comm. Algebra, 2015). After the geometric subgroups, the maximal closed connected subgroups that remain are the $X < G$ such that $X$ is simple and $V$ is an irreducible and tensor indecomposable $X$-module. The bulk of this thesis is concerned with this case. We determine all triples $(X, u, \varphi)$ where $X$ is a simple algebraic group, $u \in X$ is a unipotent element, and $\varphi: X \rightarrow G$ is a rational irreducible representation such that $\varphi(u)$ is a distinguished unipotent element of $G$. When $p = 0$, this was done in previous work by Liebeck, Seitz and Testerman (Pac. J. Math, 2015). In the final chapter of the thesis, we consider the more general problem of finding all connected reductive subgroups $X$ of $G$ that contain a distinguished unipotent element $u$ of $G$. This leads us to consider connected reductive overgroups $X$ of $u$ which are contained in some proper parabolic subgroup of $G$. Testerman and Zalesski (Proc. Am. Math. Soc, 2013) have shown that when $u$ is a regular unipotent element of $G$, no such $X$ exists. We give several examples which show that their result does not generalize to distinguished unipotent elements. As an extension of the Testerman-Zalesski result, we show that except for two known examples which occur in the case where $(G, p) = (C_2, 2)$, a connected reductive overgroup of a distinguished unipotent element of order $p$ cannot be contained in a proper parabolic subgroup of $G$.

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Record created 2018-05-23, last modified 2019-12-05