The prestigious Fields Medal is widely considered as mathematics’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Maryam Mirzakhani was the first woman to win the medal. She was an Iranian mathematician as well as a professor of mathematics at the prestigious Stanford University. During her active days in the field, she researched various topics from ergodic theory to symplectic geometry.
Back on 13th of August 2014, Maryam was honored with the most prestigious award in the field, The Fields Medal. She was the first woman and the first Iranian to be awarded the Fields Medal. The award committee cited her profound work in the dynamics as well as the geometry of Riemann surfaces and their corresponding moduli spaces.
Mirzakhani’s Childhood and Education
Maryam was born on third of May 1977 in Iran’s capital city, Tehran. Her father was an electrical engineer, so during her childhood years, she was influenced by his scientific work. She attended prestigious Tehran Farzanegan School, which is a part of the National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents. Back in 1994, Maryam achieved the gold medal in the most prominent mathematics competition, the International Mathematical Olympiad. She was the first Iranian student to earn the gold medal at the competition with a perfect score. She walked with two gold medals.
She attended her BSs in mathematics back in 1999 at the Sharif University of Technology. Then she left her homeland for the United States in order to earn her graduate degree. She earned her Ph.D. back in 2004 from the most prestigious Harvard University. She worked there for several months under the supervision of another Fields Medalist, Curtis T. McMullen. At the university, she was widely respected due to her determination alongside her relentless questioning. She was one of the most successful students despite not being a native English-speaker. She took her notes in her native language, Persian.
Working at the Stanford University
After earning her Ph.D. in the United States, she was offered a position as a professor at the prestigious Princeton University back in 2004. She gladly accepted at stayed there until 2008 when she transferred and became a professor at another prestigious university, Stanford. During her career, she made several contributions in various mathematics fields like Riemann surfaces and their respective moduli spaces.
She obtained a new proof for the famous formula discovered many years back by Maxim Kontsevich and Edward Witten. He works mainly focused on the theorem of the three geodesics for different spherical surfaces. Maryam was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2013. Her condition worsened in 2016 as the cancer spread to her liver and bones. She passed away on 14th of July 2017 at the age of forty.