Yesterday, Maryam Mirzakhani, became the first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics, aka the Nobel Prize in Mathematics. It was her tremendous work on doughnuts and spheres that won her the honor.
The International Mathematical Union decided to choose her after she discovered new advances in the theory of Riemann surface. The organization gives out awards every four years to some of the best mathematicians under the age of 40.
In a statement after the news, she said, "This is a great honor." The talented Math professor at Stanford University believes, "I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."
Canadian math professor Izabella Laba was more than delighted at her achievement wrote: “Mirzakhani's selection does exactly nothing to convince me that women are capable of doing mathematical research at the same level as men. I have never had any doubt about that in the first place…What I take from it instead is that we as a society, men and women alike, are becoming better at encouraging and nurturing mathematical talent in women, and more capable of recognizing excellence in women's work.”
Mirzakhani didn't shoot to fame overnight and had caught notice of mathematicians even before she even went to college. Mirzakhani won gold at the International Mathematical Olympiads way back in 1994 and 1995.
After graduating from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, Mirzakhani went off to Harvard to get her PhD.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, being the first female to win this prestigious award, people are considering this as the first sign of many changes for the future.