Congratulations to the 2014 Fields Medalists! Every four years, the International Mathematical Union (IMU) awards the Fields Medal to two, three, or four mathematicians under forty, recognizing them for their research and contributions to the discipline. The Fields Medal was established in 1936 and is often compared to the Nobel Prize. This year four mathematicians were honored: Artur Avila for his contributions to chaos theory and dynamical systems; Martin Hairer for his study of stochastic PDEs; Manjul Bhargava for his work in algebra and number theory; and Maryam Mirzakhani for her research on the dynamics and geometry of Riemannian surfaces. This year’s prize was particularly historic because Mirzakhani is the first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal.
Mirzakhani, who also received the 2014 Clay Research Award, was born in Iran and completed her PhD at Harvard University. As a child, she wanted to be a writer, but in high school she discovered a love for math and was a two-time gold medalist in the International Mathematical Olympiad. Her graduate thesis focused on geodesics on hyperbolic surfaces and moduli spaces, and she has continued to explore geodesics and moduli spaces in her recent work. She is currently a professor at Stanford University.