Maryam Mirzakhani, aged 40, was the first woman to ever win the prestigious Fields Medal for mathematics
Professor Maryam Mirzakhani earned the coveted Fields Medal in 2014 for her work on dynamical systems and complex geometry. She was the first woman and the first Iranian national to ever win the award.
The esteemed mathematician passed away in her U.S. home after a battle with breast cancer, which had spread to her bones.
The Fields Medal is nicknamed the “Nobel Prize for Mathematics”, and is only awarded once every four years to 2-4 mathematicians under age 40.
Professor Mirzakhani was brought up in Iran in the 1980s, and even in her youth excelled at mathematics winning two gold metals in the International Mathematical Olympiad.
She went on to attain a PhD at Harvard University, and was later hired as a mathematics professor at Stanford University.
Professor Mirzakhani’s work will be remembered
NASA scientist Firouz Naderi posted a short tribute to Mirzakhani on Instagram, saying: “A light was turned off today. It breaks my heart… gone far too soon.”
A member of the medal selection committee from the University of Oxford said at the time that Mirzakhani won:
“I hope that this award will inspire lots more girls and young women, in this country and around the world, to believe in their own abilities and aim to be Field Medalists of the future.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif paid tribute to her, stating: “The new of young Iranian genius and math professor Maryam Mirzakhani’s passing has brought deep sorrow to me and all Iranians, who are proud of their eminent and distinguished scientists,”
“I do offer my heartfelt condolences upon the passing of this lady scientist to all Iranians worldwide, her grieving family and the scientific community.”