Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, First Woman to Win Fields Medal, Dies Age 40

Maryam Mirzakhani. Credit Stanford University

After earning a doctorate at Harvard, Mirzakhani accepted a position as assistant professor at Princeton University and as a research fellow at the Clay Mathematics Institute before joining the Stanford faculty, the university said.

The 40-year-old was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, which had spread to her bone marrow.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband and daughter.

Following her Fields Medal win in 2014, Stanford President John Hennessy congratulated Mirzakhani for her accomplishment.

Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal- equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Mathematics for those under 40 - awarded by the International Congress of Mathematicians - in 2014. "Mirzakhani was the first Iranian woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences previous year, in recognition of her 'distinguished achievement in original research.' She was in good company: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were past honorees".

Firouz Naderi, her friend and NASA scientist, confirmed Mirzakhani's death on Instagram.

The award recognized her original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems, particularly understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres.

Mirzakhani attended an all-girls high school in Tehran and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war.

According to the awarding committee, Mirzakhani's genius came from her "rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity".

In 2014, she told Quanta Magazine, a science publication, that she thought about mathematics in pictures, doodling her ideas on giant sheets of paper scattered across her office. Kerckhoff is a mathematics professor at Stanford and was one of Mirzakhani's collaborators.

"A light was turned off today. far too soon. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife".

Following earlier news that Mirzakhani's health had taken a turn for the worse, a spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry told Mehr News that Iranians worldwide were proud of her.



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