First Woman in History to Win the Top Math Prize Fields Medal

The infamous opening ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) was held today in Seoul, South Korea where Maryam Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal, the most prestigious and honorable prize in the vast field of mathematics. Mirzakhani, an admired professor from the Departments of Mathematics at Stanford University in California, is the first female winner of the distinguished award that was established in 1936.

Field’s Medal prizes, which are often considered to be the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, are awarded to dedicated academics every four years. Scholars and math communities around the globe were ecstatic when the final decision of the ICM was announced today, as Mirzakhani’s complex works and theories concerning Riemann surfaces and algebraic geometry have been highly valued for many years.

Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran in 1977 and received her doctoral degree from Harvard University. She was an esteemed Research Fellow of the Clay Mathematics Institute from 2004-2006. Although she dreamed of becoming a writer at a young age, Mirzakhani began to develop a great interest in science and numbers, and eventually made her way to the International Mathematical Olympiads during her high school years.

Today, Mirzakhani has made phenomenal contributions to mathematical disciplines concerning dynamical systems, moduli space and geometry. According to Math Union, “She has a strong geometric intuition that allows her to grapple directly with the geometry of moduli space. Fluent in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures, she embodies a rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity.”

The first woman who won the Field’s Medal has quickly become a bright catalyst for change in the diverse world of mathematics. This landmark event will surely have a humongous impact on scholars and mathematicians for generations to come.

Image Credit: International Mathematical Union

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