First woman to win highest math award dies at 40

Pablo Tucker
July 15, 2017

Born in 1977 and raised in Tehran, Mirzakhani initially dreamed of becoming a writer, but by the time she started high school her affinity for solving mathematical problems and working on proofs had shifted her sights. "Gone far too soon", the Iranian NASA scientist, Firouz Naderi, wrote in his latest post on Instagram.

Mirzakhani received the medal in 2014 for her work on complex geometry and dynamical systems.


She became the first Iranian woman ever to be elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2016. "Sad to learn about the passing of #MaryamMirzakhani - the intelligent #Iranian daughter, wife, mother, professor". When her Fields Medal award was announced there, the photo used showed her not wearing an hijab. She is survived by her husband Jan Vondrák and their daughter Anahita.

She went on to win the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics, and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society. Still others, praised the fearless move as it re-opened a discussion regarding the limitations on women which still exist in Iran.


Separately on Instagram, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Mirzakhani's death is a cause for grief for all Iranians.

A year later, she became the first Iranian student to achieve a flawless score and win two gold medals at the Olympiad.


Her paper "Growth of the number of simple closed geodesics on hyperbolic surfaces", she investigated the growth rate of the number of simple closed geodesics, as a function of their length, following her PhD entitled "Simple geodesics on hyperbolic surfaces and the volume of the moduli space of curves" on 2004 at Harvard University. The award is only given out every four years to between two and four mathematicians under 40.

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