Maryam Mirzakhani garnered herself quite a legacy. She was a Stanford professor of mathematics since 2008, whilst previously being a professor at Princeton University. Mirzakhani also won the Fields Medal for her research in hyperbolic geometry, becoming both the first woman and the first Iranian to be honoured with the award.
Mirzakhani was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and unfortunately passed away on July 14th 2017 at the young age of 40 years. Her sad demise has left a void in the world of Mathematics.
Mirzakhani was born in 1977 in Iran. Her father was a chemical engineer and she was thus exposed to the scientific world very early on. In 1999, Mirzakhani earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. She then migrated to the United States to complete her PhD. In 2004, she earned her doctorate from Harvard University. It was at this time she was employed as a research fellow at the Clay Mathematics Institute and also became a professor at Princeton University.
By 2008, she was already a professor at Stanford University. This is where she spent the remainder of her life. In 2009, Mizakhani was awarded the Blumenthal award for the Advancement in Research for Pure Mathematics.
“It is fun; it’s like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case,” Mirzakhani once said. “You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math,” Mirzakhani explained. She claimed to be a “slow” mathematician, preferring to take her time with her work.
It was this aspect of mathematics that led her to fully appreciate the intricacies and nuances in solving equations.
THE LEGACY OF MARYAM MIRZAKHANI
In her short lived yet inspirational life, Maryam Mirzikhani’s won the Clay Research Award and the Fields Medal (2014) among many others. She was also elected to various organizations, notably, the French Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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Mirzakhani will go down in history as a woman who broke stereotypes at every stage of her life. Perhaps her greatest achievements was proving that gender differences and ethnic differences mean nothing when it comes to pursuing your dreams.