From funding the first woman to be awarded a Fields Medal to supporting several other noteworthy honorees, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested in some of the world's best mathematical scientists, judging from those recognized at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Seoul, Korea. The event includes the awarding of the Fields Medal, considered by many to be the most prestigious in mathematics.
This year, five NSF-funded researchers were recognized for their work and contributions to mathematics.
Of the four recipients of this year's Fields Medal, two are based in the U.S. and both are supported by NSF's Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University and Maryam Mirzakhani of Stanford University. Mirzakhani is the first woman ever to achieve this honor.
Additionally, the winner of the Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize for outstanding mathematical contributions with significant impact outside of mathematics went to NSF-supported researcher Stanley Osher of University of California, Los Angeles.
The Chern Medal, which is awarded to an individual whose accomplishments warrant the highest level of recognition for outstanding achievements in the field of mathematics, was presented to NSF-supported researcher and educator Phillip Griffiths of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.
Lastly, Georgia Benkart, of the University of Wisconsin and its NSF-funded Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, was recognized as the ICM's Emmy Noether lecturer.
The ICM is held once every four years, and the awards are particularly coveted. The Fields Medal, specifically, is viewed as the premiere award for this field. It is limited to just four mathematicians at any given time and all are below the age of 40.