On this day, May 12th 2019, we celebrate First International Women in Mathematics Day
This date was selected to honor Maryam Mirzakhani, a brilliant and inspiring mathematical scholar born on May 12th 1977 in Tehran and studied at Sharif University before attending Harvard for her graduate studies.
Though her life was cut short by cancer at the age of 40, Maryam’s research and contributions in the field of mathematics earned her a substantial array of distinguished award and honors. In 2005, she was named to the Popular Science list of the “Brilliant 10” in recognition of her her research in Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry. Maryam’s ground breaking research was cited in 2014 when she became the woman and the first Iranian to receive the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics.
As written in the article by by Natalie Jabbar for a Stanford University publication, Maryam’s legacy inspired fellow Iranian Americans Dr. Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard and Anousheh Ansari to establish a graduate fellowship. The Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences received their $800,000 gift in memory of mathematics Professor Maryam Mirzakhani.The Graduate Fellowship will support graduate students in the Department of Mathematics. Ansari and Yassini’s commitment will earn $400,000 in matching funds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to create a $1.2 million endowed fund.
As fellow Iranian-Americans, Yassini and Ansari said that Mirzakhani was an inspiration to them and an embodiment of the contributions that the Iranian community has made globally throughout history across the humanities, arts and sciences.
“Maryam’s contributions to mathematics are as significant as those of Khwarizmi’s groundbreaking innovations as the father of algebra more than 12 centuries ago,” Yassini said. “Anousheh and I are creating this fellowship to illuminate her extraordinary contribution to this arc of history”.
Yassini is internationally known as the “father of the cable modem” for his pioneering work inventing internet connectivity via cable TV, forever changing the broadband industry. Ansari is the co-founder and CEO of Prodea, a leading IoT (internet of things) service delivery platform, and is both the first Iranian individual and the first self-funded woman to travel to space.
“Anousheh and I established this fellowship because we didn’t want Maryam’s passing away so young to mean that she – and her legacy – would go away,” said Yassini. “I’m hoping this fellowship motivates many young people, especially other female mathematicians, to pursue the field and to carry out innovative research – and that people are inspired to be as humble and as globally impactful as Maryam was.”