An Iranian mathematician has become the first woman in the world to win the prestigious Fields Medal, also known as the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics.”
The Iranian woman, Maryam Mirzakhani, a Harvard educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, has been awarded the 2014 Fields Medal in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces.
Officially known as the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, the Fields Medal was presented to Mirzakhani, one of four candidates, by the International Mathematical Union on August 13 at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), held this year in Seoul, South Korea.
In a statement, the ICM announced that fluent in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures, Mirzakhani embodies a rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity.
“This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani said. “I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”
Born in 1977 in Tehran, Mirzakhani got her bachelor’s in math from Iran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology in 1999 and received her master’s and PhD degrees from Harvard University in the United States in 2004.
She has also won the Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics and the Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.
She became full professor of Mathematics at the age of 31 in 2008 at Stanford University, where she is currently working.
Her research interests mainly include hyperbolic geometry, Teichmüller theory, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry.