Maryam Mirzakhani, First Woman To Win Math's Highest Honor, Dies At 40

Maryam Mirzakhani

"It is fun - it's like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case", Mirzakhani said when she won the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014.

Mirzakhani was hospitalized last week in California and tests showed that cancer had spread to her bone marrow.

Maryam Mirzakhani is awarded with the 2014 Fields medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea on August 13, 2014. By then, she was already a star, having won gold medals in the International Mathematical Olympiad in the mid-1990s - after becoming the first girl ever named to Iran's team.

Mirzakhani was born on May 3, 1997.

She earned a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 2004 and became full professor of mathematics at Stanford at the age of 31.

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"Also, everyone has a different style, and something that works for one person might not be so great for others", she said.

Stanford University has not responded to a request for comment from Newsweek. She was the first woman to win the award since its inception in 1936.

Mirzakhani studied the complexities of curved surfaces such as spheres, doughnut shapes and hyperbolas.

"Maryam is gone far too soon, but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science", Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement. "But for myself, I prefer solo activities; I enjoy reading and exercising in my free time", she said.

"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", she said once.

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Mirzakhani joined the faculty at Stanford in the San Francisco Bay area in 2008.

She is survived by her husband and a daughter.

Firouz Naderi, a retired NASA scientist and former director of the space agency's Solar System Exploration Program, announced her passing on his personal Instagram account.

"A genius? Yes. But also a daughter, a mother and a wife", he added in a subsequent post.

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