Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences has received an $800,000 gift from engineer Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard and entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari to establish a fellowship in honor of its late math professor Maryam Mirzakhani.
The Maryam Mirzakhani Graduate Fellowship will support graduate students in the Department of Mathematics. Ansari and Yassini’s commitment will earn $400,000 in matching funds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to create a $1.2 million endowed fund.
Yassini and Ansari said that Mirzakhani was an inspiration to them and an embodiment of the contributions that the Iranian community has made globally throughout history and across the humanities, arts and sciences.
“Maryam’s contributions to mathematics are as significant as those of Khwarizmi’s groundbreaking innovations as the father of algebra more than 12 centuries ago,” Yassini said. “Anousheh and I are creating this fellowship to illuminate her extraordinary contribution to this arc of history.”
“Graduate students are the future,”said Eeleny Ionel, professor and chair of mathematics.. “It’s really essential to have fellowships like this to bring talented students to Stanford to follow their dreams and passions.”
“Anousheh and I established this fellowship because we didn’t want Maryam’s passing away so young to mean that she – and her legacy – would go away,” said Yassini. “I’m hoping this fellowship motivates many young people, especially other female mathematicians, to pursue the field and to carry out innovative research – and that people are inspired to be as humble and as globally impactful as Maryam was.”
Mirzakhani was the first and to-date only female winner of the Fields Medal since its inception in 1936; she died Friday, July 14, 2017 of breast cancer.