For the first time in its 78-year history, a woman has bagged a Fields Medal, essentially the Nobel Prize for mathematics. Born in Iran, Maryam Mirzakhani did her doctorate at Harvard and is currently a professor at Stanford. Obviously, she is terrifyingly brilliant.

The Fields Medal is doled out to four honorees at a time, every four years, and recipients are all under 40. According to the New Scientist, Mirzakhani "studies the geometry of moduli space, a complex geometric and algebraic entity that might be described as a universe in which every point is itself a universe." In her work,

Mirzakhani described the number of ways a beam of light can travel a closed loop in a two-dimensional universe. To answer the question, it turns out, you cannot just stay in your "home" universe ‚Äď you have to understand how to navigate the entire multiverse. Mirzakhani has shown mathematicians new ways to navigate these spaces.

That sounds very impressive and Wrinkle in Time-ish!

In a somewhat reassuring sign to those of us slowpokes, she apparently considers herself something of a tortoise in her work habits, plugging away at problems for years at a time. She told Quanta, "I don't get easily disappointed," adding that, "I'm quite confident, in some sense," and "months or years later, you see very different aspects" of a problem.

Photo via IMU.