The Fields Medal is the most prestigious prize in mathematics.
Up until now, only men had won the award. Maryam Mirzakhani, 37, has changed all that! She is the first woman to ever receive this "Nobel Prize" of math, as it’s often described as. Mirzakhani is an Iranian-born woman and Stanford University professor. She is one of four mathematicians under the age of 40 being awarded the prize, which is given out every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians.
Mirzakhani said winning the award is great honor.
"I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," she said in a press release from Stanford. Plus, she is the first Fields winner from the university since 1966!
Mirzakhani grew up in Iran and came to the United States in 1999. She currently lives in California with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. Mainly, her research focuses on geometric structures on surfaces and their deformations. She said that mathematics isn't for everybody, but too many students don't give it a chance.
"I did poorly in math for a couple of years in middle school. I was just not interested in thinking about it," she says. "I can see that without being excited, mathematics can look pointless and cold. The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers."
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