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Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal

Stanford maths professor receives the most prestigious honour in the field of mathematics

By Andrea Tim | Published: 13 Aug 2014

Lady mathematics
Photo: Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzahani has won the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, better known as the Fields Medal, the greatest accolade a mathematician can receive. The Iranian-born professor of mathematics at Stanford and mother of a 3-year-old daughter also makes history as the first woman to ever receive the award.

"This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Maryam said. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."

Maryam earns the medal for her contribution to geometry and dynamical systems, most notably in "understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces, such as spheres, the surfaces of doughnuts and of hyperbolic objects."

The 37-year-old did not always have the intention of pursuing mathematics, having had dreams of becoming a writer as a young girl. Later in her high school days, she discovered her passion for numbers and mathematical problems.

"It is fun – it's like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case," she said. "I felt that this was something I could do, and I wanted to pursue this path."

Way to go, Maryam! (Watch out, boys.)

Related: LEGO is making a series of female scientists
Related: GoldieBlox aims to get girls to tap into their engineering skills


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