a tribute to a daughter, a mother, a wife and, a mathematics genius

September 28, 2017 by  

Maryam Mirzakhani

On July 15, 2017 the life of Mrs. Maryam Mirzakhani ended at age forty, after her fight with cancer.  Maryam was an Iranian-born mathematician, a mathematical genius and was the first woman to win the Fields Medal. She is survived by her husband, Stanford mathematician Jan Vondrak, and her young daughter Anahita. Her passing was felt worldwide and was recognized by her birth home of Iran. President Hassan Rouhani said that Mirzakhani’s “doleful passing” has caused “great sorrow”. In Iran, Rouhani praised the “unprecedented brilliance of this creative scientist and modest human being, who made Iran’s name resonate in the world’s scientific forums, (and) was a turning point in showing the great will of Iranian women and young people on the path towards reaching the peaks of glory … in various international arenas.”

Firouz Naderi, a former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA, announced her death on Instagram.  “A light was turned off today. It breaks my heart ….. gone far too soon,” he wrote, later adding: “A genius? Yes. But also, a daughter, a mother and a wife.” 

Born in 1977 and raised in Tehran, Mirzakhani fell in love with mathematics by the time she started high school. “It is fun – it’s like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case,” she said when she won the Fields Medal. “I felt that this was something I could do, and I wanted to pursue this path.”

Mirzakhani, was a professor at Stanford University in California since 2008.  Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne stated Ms. Mirzakhani’s impact “will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

In the Fall 2014 edition of Persian Heritage we published an article after Maryam won the Field Award, we are proud and pleased to reprint this in celebration of her life and her accomplishments.



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