She conquered the male-dominated society of academicians, made world history, found solutions to problems no-one had solved before, and inspired thousands of women to pursue math and science.
The Iranian mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017,) died of cancer over the weekend, but her legacy will undoubtedly live on.
The world is mourning the loss of the brilliant theorist who was nothing short of a genius.
Dr. Mirzakhani, a Tehran-born Harvard graduate and Stanford University professor, had breast cancer that spread to her bones.
Maryam Mirzakhani is a name you will want to remember for years to come.
She is the epitome of a strong, determined woman who left a permanent mark on the world ... Here's how:
She was the first and only woman to win the "Nobel Prize" of math
In 2014, Professor Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal for mathematics, which is dubbed the "Nobel Prize for Mathematics," in recognition of her work on complex geometry and dynamical systems.
Back then, all 52 recipients had been male; making Mirzakhani the world's first and only female to win the prize since its inception in 1936.
The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to usually two to four mathematicians under 40 years of age.
The only Iranian ever to win the award
Not only is Mirzakhani the only woman to have won this award in the world, she is also the only Iranian to win the prestigious Fields Medal.
"She developed tools that are now the bread and butter of people working in the field"
Dr. Mirzakhani was a game-changer in her field. "She developed tools that are now the bread and butter of people working in the field," said Peter Sarnak, a mathematician at Princeton University, according to New York Times.
Her work focused on the eternal bouncing of balls from one side to another on a rectangular billiards table, a problem that has baffled mathematicians for a century.
For her dissertation, she solved two problems no-one had succeeded in breaking down before.
"The majority of mathematicians will never produce something as good," Benson Farb, a mathematician at the University of Chicago said. "And that's what she did in her thesis."
She was set for more ground-breaking work. "I'm sure in the long run, she would have had many more of these decisive papers,” Professor Sarnak said.
She won several prizes, including multiple gold medals at the Mathematical Olympiad
In 1994, Dr. Mirzakhani became the first female to compete with Iran's International Mathematical Olympiad team and the first to win a gold medal. She returned to the Olympiad the following year and won two more gold medals.
She went on to win Blumenthal Award for The Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics in 2009 and the Satter Prize of The American Mathematical Society in 2013.
She is a heroic figure for women in STEM
Mirzakhani overcame prejudice against women in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,) becoming a heroic figure for women around the world.
While she was known for being humble and hesitant to take credit, she acknowledged her influential role when she won the Fields Medal in 2014.
"I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," she said at the time.
Stanford University President, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, noted her huge impact, saying, "Maryam is gone far too soon but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science."
She pushed the boundaries for women even after her death
Even after her death, Dr. Mirzakhani continues to serve as a beacon of hope for Iranian women, who are still subject to discrimination under Iranian law and in society.
Despite strict rules against women without head-coverings in Iran, the country's state-run newspapers featured pictures of Dr. Mirzakhani with her head uncovered on their front covers, The Guardian reported.
Even the president, Hassan Rouhani, posted a picture of Dr. Mirzakhani on Instagram without a hijab. "The grievous passing of Maryam Mirzakhani, the eminent Iranian and world-renowned mathematician, is very much heartrending," he wrote in Persian.