Iranian-origin Harvard-studied maths wizard Maryam Mirzakhani died aged 40 after a long battle with breast cancer that had spread to her bones. She was the first recipient of the prestigious Fields Medal at a very young age.
Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal in 2014 for her work on geometry and dynamical systems and was the first Iranian to win the prize. In an interview, she once said, “Doing mathematics for me is like being on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight.”
Born in Tehran in 1977, Maryam was twice awarded the International Mathematical Olympiad’s gold medal in her youth. She earned a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 2004 and became full professor of mathematics in 2008 at Stanford at a very young age of 31. She had extensively contributed to the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces.
She was survived by her husband Jan Vondrák, a Czech theoretical computer scientist and her colleague at Stanford University and a daughter named Anahita.
Stanford University in a statement said Mirzakhani was “ambitious, resolute and fearless in the face of problems others would not, or could not, tackle.”
Echoing similar view, Mirzakhani’s friend from NASA, Firouz Naderi, said, “A light was turned off today. It breaks my heart… gone far too soon.” in an Instagram posting.
Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said: “Maryam is gone far too soon, but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif too expressed his condolences in an Instagram post. He said:”The news of young Iranian genius and math professor Maryam Mirzakhani’s passing has brought a deep pang of sorrow to me and all Iranians who are proud of their eminent and distinguished scientists.”