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Top Prize to Math Prof

For Maryam Mirzakhani, a Fields Medal.

PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS Maryam Mirzakhani is one of four individuals awarded the Fields Medal this year, and the first woman to win the prize since it was established in 1936.

The medal—officially the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics—is awarded every four years and has been described as the discipline's Nobel Prize. Mirzakhani's work is distinguished by her contributions to geometry and the concept of dynamical systems, particularly in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces. Mirzakhani is the first Stanford recipient since Paul Cohen in 1966.

Born and raised in Iran, Mirzakhani joined the Stanford faculty in 2008. The New York Times reported that Duke University's Ingrid Daubechies, president of the International Mathematical Union, called the designation of a female winner "a great joy." Said Mirzakhani, "I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians."

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