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Women Who Figure An Exhibit Inspired by the Mathematicians of Hidden Figures

Teachers and Researchers

Julia Robinson : : Born December 8, 1919, St. Louis MO; Died July 30, 1985

Robinson is best known for her contributions to the solution of Hilbert's Tenth Problem. She began her undergraduate studies at San Diego University in 1936, and transferred to the University of California, Berkeley several years later. After being awarded her B.A. in 1940, she pursued her graduate studies, earning her PhD in 1948 for her dissertation on Definability and Decision Problems in Arithmetic. In her dissertation, she proved that the theory of rational numbers was undecidable; this was achieved by showing that the integers (which were already known to be undecidable) are definable in the theory of rational numbers.

Robinson became a professor at UC Berkeley in 1976 and retired in 1985. In 1975, Robinson became the first woman mathematician to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and, in 1983, she became the first woman president of the American Mathematical Society. Her other honors include Noether Lecturer 1982, MacArthur Foundation Fellowship 1983, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Maryam Mirzakhani : : Born: May 3, 1977, Tehran, Iran; Died July 14, 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani was the first (and as yet, only) woman to win the Fields Medal, known as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics," in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces. Mirzakhani was of Iranian descent and was raised in Iran. She earned a B.S. in mathematics from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran in 1999, and completed her PhD at Harvard in 2004. Mirzakhani gained recognition on the international math scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads, and finishing with a perfect score in the latter competition. From 2004 to 2008, she was a Clay Mathematics Institute Research Fellow and an assistant professor at Princeton University.

Mirzakhani was a professor of mathematics at Stanford University from 2009 until the time of her death at age 40, which occurred during the course of this exhibit. She'll be remembered as a remarkable researcher, teacher, professional colleague, and woman, as much as for the numerous awards and fellowships received throughout her career. Her research in the fields of hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, symplectic geometry, and Teichm├╝ller theory is an enduring gift to the world of mathematics.

Obituaries are available from the following sources (among many others):

Stanford News

The Guardian

Mercury News

New York Times


Scientific American

Women Mathematicians at UC Berkeley

Annie Dale Biddle Andrews
Pauline Sperry
Sophia Levy McDonald
Evelyn Fix
Emma Lehmer
Elizabeth Scott
Marina Ratner
  • Annie Dale Biddle Andrews (1885-1940)
    First woman to earn a PhD in mathematics at UC Berkeley (1911)
  • Pauline Sperry (1885-1967)
    First woman appointed assistant professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley (1923)
  • Sophia Levy McDonald (1888-1963)
    Astronomer and professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley
  • Evelyn Fix (1904-1965)
    One of the first women appointed professor of statistics at UC Berkeley
  • Emma Lehmer (1906-2007)
    Russian-born graduate of UC Berkeley and theoretical mathematician
  • Elizabeth Scott (1917-1988)
    One of the first women appointed professor of statistics at UC Berkeley; Chair of the Statistics Department (1968-1973)
  • Marina Ratner (1938-2017)
    Professor emerita of mathematics
Ani Adhikari
Mina Aganagic
Sandrine Dudoit
Jenny Harrison
Olga Holtz
Haiyan Huang
Deborah Nolan
Elizabeth Purdom

Current Faculty

  • Ani Adhikari
    Teaching professor in statistics
  • Mina Aganagic
    Professor of mathematics and physics
  • Sandrine Dudoit
    Professor of biostatistics and statistics
  • Jenny Harrison
    Professor of mathematics
  • Olga Holtz
    Professor of mathematics; AMS Fellow (2016)
  • Haiyan Huang
    Associate professor of statistics
  • Deborah Nolan
    Professor of statistics
  • Elizabeth Purdom
    Associate professor of statistics
Vera Serganova
Juliet Shaffer
Chris Shannon
Zvezdelina Stankova
Nike Sun
Katrin Wehrheim
Lauren Williams
Bin Yu
  • Vera Serganova
    Professor of mathematics
  • Juliet Shaffer
    Teaching professor emerita of statistics
  • Chris Shannon
    Professor of economics and mathematics
  • Zvezdelina Stankova
    Teaching professor of mathematics; Director, Berkeley Math Circle
  • Nike Sun
    Assistant professor of statistics
  • Katrin Wehrheim
    Associate professor of mathematics; Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2009); AMS Fellow (2013)
  • Lauren Williams
    Professor of mathematics; AMS Fellow (2013)
  • Bin Yu
    Professor of statistics