For the first time in history, the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics -- the equivalent, some say, of a Nobel Prize -- has been awarded to a woman. The winner is Maryam Mirzakhani, who was born and raised in Iran.
Mirzakhani studied math at Harvard, earning a PhD in 2004. She currently works at Stanford University as a math professor.
"This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Mirzakhani said in a statement released by Stanford.
The International Mathematical Union, the organization that gives the award, said Mirzakhani won the prize for her "outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces."
The IMU awards the Fields Medal every four years. The winners are always announced at the opening ceremonies of the International Congress of Mathematicians annual conference, held this week in Seoul, South Korea.