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born 1977

In 2014, Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win Math's highest honor ~ the Fields Medal. 

The celebrated scholar hadn't always been a math whiz. Growing up in Iran, her dream was to be a writer. It wasn't until high school that Maryam's passion for numbers took hold. By 17, she was winning international competitions. At Harvard, her thesis solved a problem {calculating the volume of hyperbolic surfaces} that had stumped mathematicians for years.

Now a professor at Stanford, Maryam is respected for her ability to creatively mix math theories + willingness to pursue seemingly unsolvable problems. Math, she notes, isn't that different than novel-writing since "your problem evolves like a live character."

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Maryam Mirzakhani (12)

"There are times when I feel like I'm in a big forest and don't know where I'm going. But then somehow I come to the top of a hill and can see everything more clearly. When that happens it's really exciting."

Brilliant 10: Princeton University ~ Maryam Mirzakhani | october 2005

"It's invaluable to have a friend who shares your interests and helps you stay motivated."

Interview with Research Fellow Maryam Mirzakhani | 2008

"The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers."

annual report | 2008

"I don’t think that everyone should become a mathematician, but I do believe that many students don’t give mathematics a real chance."

Interview with Research Fellow Maryam Mirzakhani | january 2008

"You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty in math."

A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces | august 2014

"I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields—it's very refreshing. There are lots of tools, and you don't know which one would work. It's about being optimistic and trying to connect things."

A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces | august 2014

"I don't have any particular recipe . . . Doing research is challenging as well as attractive. It is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out."

Stanford's Maryam Mirzakhani Wins Field's Medal | august 2014

"There are different characters, and you are getting to know them better. Things evolve, and then you look back at a character, and it’s completely different from your first impression."

Meet the First Woman to Win Math’s Most Prestigious Prize | august 2014

"It's not only the question, but the way you try to solve it."

International Mathematical Union | august 2014

"I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields—it’s very refreshing."

Meet the First Woman to Win Math's Most Prestigious Prize | august 2014

"Life isn't supposed to be easy."

Meet the First Women to Win Math's Most Prestigious Medal | august 2014

"I think it's rarely about what you actually learn in class . . . it's mostly about things that you stay motivated to go and continue to do on your own."

Maryam Mirzakhani press conference after winning Field's Medal | august 2014
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Maryam Mirzakhani

curated with care by Kathleen Murray {march 2015}