By Bahar Gholipour
For the first time in history, the Fields Medal — the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics — will be awarded to a woman. The award will go to Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician and professor of mathematics at Stanford University.
Mirzakhani and three other mathematicians will be honored for their original contributions to the field, at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) today (Aug. 13) in Seoul, South Korea. The Fields Medal is the most prestigious international award for mathematics, a field that is missing from Nobel Prize categories. The award is given every four years to accomplished mathematicians under age 40. The first Fields Medal was awarded in 1936, and none of the recipients have been female until now.
“This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani said in a statement. “I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”
Mirzakhani is being awarded the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the understanding the dynamics and geometry of “Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces,” according to the International Mathematical Union.