If you've been wondering who to thank for the latest developments in "the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces," that would be Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani, who has earned the distinction of being the first woman to win a prestigious Fields Medal for her work. The medals, doled out by the International Mathematical Union every four years to mathematicians under 40 years of age, are sometimes called the "Nobel Prize in Mathematics."
This year's winners have been announced at International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea, and include: Mirzakhani, who in addition to being the first female recipient is also the first Iranian winner; Artur Avila, "for his profound contributions to dynamical systems theory" ; Manjul Bhargava, "for developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers" ; and Martin Hairer, "for his outstanding contributions to the theory of stochastic partial differential equations, and in particular for the creation of a theory of regularity structures for such equations."
Mirzakhani is quoted on Stanford's website about her recognition:
"This is a great honor. 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."
Winners receive about $14K and a medal, shown above.