Maryam Mirzakhani, groundbreaking mathematician and Fields Medal victor, dies at 40

Jul 16, 2017, 00:21
Maryam Mirzakhani, groundbreaking mathematician and Fields Medal victor, dies at 40

Her death was confirmed Saturday by Stanford University, where Mirzakhani had been a professor since 2008.

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

She is survived by husband Jan Vondrák, a Czech theoretical computer scientist, and their daughter Anahita.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Professor Mirzakhani's death caused "great sorrow", according to Iran's state media.

She was a research fellow at Clay Mathematics Institute from 2004 to 2008 and served as an assistant professor of mathematics at Princeton University.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran, and she lived in that country before coming to the U.S.to attend graduate school at Harvard University. She was the first woman in the prize's 80-year history to earn the distinction.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne called Mirzakhani a brilliant theorist "who made enduring contributions and inspired thousands of women to pursue math and science".

Firouz Naderi’s post in Instagram in reaction to Mirzakhani’s death
Firouz Naderi’s post in Instagram in reaction to Mirzakhani’s death

Iranian-American scientist Firouz Naderi shared his grief on Instagram.

Born in Tehran, Mirzakhani came to the U.S.to attend graduate school at Harvard University. By then, she was already a star, having won gold medals in the International Mathematical Olympiad in the mid-1990s - after becoming the first girl ever named to Iran's team. The Fields Medal is awarded every four years on the occasion of the International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement.

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.

As a professor and scholar, Mirzakhani's pictures helped her write stories with her math.

"A light was turned off today", he said in a post.

"A genius? Yes. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife", he added in a subsequent post.

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