Stanford professor first woman to receive ‘Nobel Prize’ for math

BY newsdesk  August 13, 2014 at 11:53 AM EDT
Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal in 2014. Photo courtesy of the International Mathematical Union

Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal in 2014. Photo courtesy of the International Mathematical Union

Maryam Mirzakhani, a mathematics professor at Stanford University in California, is the first woman to receive the Fields Medal — considered the “Nobel Prize” of mathematics — since the award was established in 1936.

The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to recognize “outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement.” The winner is chosen by the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union. The IMU has more than 70 member countries.

“This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” said the Iranian-born Mirzakhani, 37, in a statement released by the university. “I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”

Four years ago, the IMU named its first female president, Ingrid Daubechies, a Belgian physicist and mathematician. Her term is 2011-2014.