First Iranian Woman Elected to US National Academy of Sciences

Friday, May 13, 2016

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*First Iranian woman elected to US National Academy of Sciences

Maryam Mirzakhani has become the first Iranian woman elected to the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) after she set the record of the first ever woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal, also known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

The 39-year-old mathematician, currently a professor at Stanford University, was recently elected to NAS, by its current members, in recognition of her “distinguished and continuing achievement in original research.”

With past honorees including renowned physicist Albert Einstein, and inventors Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell, being a member of the organization is considered to be as one of the highest achievements for scientists in the United States.

Mirzakhani, along with 83 other new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries, will be formally inducted next April in Washington DC. 

The organization, along with its two sister organizations, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) serve pro bono as “advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine.”

Born in 1977 in Tehran, Mirzakhani was raised in the Iranian capital. As a brilliant teenager, she won gold medals in both the International Mathematical Olympiad (Hong Kong 1994), in which she scored 41 out of 42 points, and the International Mathematical Olympiad (Canada 1995) with a perfect score of 42 out of 42 points, ranking her first jointly with 14 other participants.

The math genius received her Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Iran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology in 1999. She later went to the US to further her education, earning a PhD degree in mathematics from Harvard University in 2004.

She became full professor of mathematics at the age of 31 in 2008 at Stanford University where she is currently lecturing.

Mirzakhani received Blumenthal Award from the American Mathematical Society in 2009. She was also awarded the 2013 biennial Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics by the American Mathematical Society, and garnered the 2014 Clay Research Award from the Clay Mathematics Institute.

But the most important of all her awards is the 2014 Fields Medal that she won in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces. This medal, commonly viewed as the highest honor a mathematician can receive, is given every four years to mathematicians under the age of 40, by the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU).

Mirzakhani’s research interests mainly include Teichmüller theory and ergodic theory. About her mathematical approach to developing new proofs, she has said “it is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out.”

Mirzakhani is married to Jan Vondrák, a Czech theoretical computer scientist who works at IBM Almaden Research Center. They have a daughter named Anahita.

*NASA names asteroid after Iranian scientist

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named an asteroid in the solar system after Firouz Naderi, an Iranian scientist and the former director for Solar System Exploration at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

“Tonight at NASA/JPL farewell party I learned that they have named an asteroid after me!! I was overwhelmed,” Naderi wrote in a post on his Facebook account, adding that “asteroid formerly known as (5515) 1989 EL1 will henceforth be known as asteroid ‘Naderi’.”

The asteroid was discovered by late American astronomer Eleanor F. Helin at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County California on March 5, 1989, and is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) in diameter. It rotates about itself every 5.2 hours and orbits the Sun every 4.4 years.

The asteroid Naderi is among numerous other minor celestial bodies orbiting the Sun roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. This crowd of asteroids is called the main asteroid belt, the total mass of which is almost four percent of the Moon, or 22 percent of Pluto.

“Fortunately, it is not an Earth crosser,” Naderi further said, adding that a curious fact about the asteroid is that “its orbit is a little more eccentric than most asteroids in the main belt.”

During the last 36 years, Naderi managed or oversaw numerous projects in NASA, including JPL's robotic solar system mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, Cassini orbiter at Saturn, and the Dawn spacecraft at the giant asteroid Vesta.

“It will be going around the Sun for billions of years after I am gone,” Naderi further said about the asteroid.

*Iranian researchers use gold nanoparticles to detect cancer

Iranian researchers at Faculty of New Sciences and Technologies, UT, have conducted a project on detecting cancer cells by using colorimetric method on laboratory samples.

Seyed Morteza Hosseini, the project manager, said the aim of the research was to design an efficient method for a quick and simple detection of cancer cells released in the patient's blood with the help of colorimetric properties of gold nanoparticles.

“Separated gold nanoparticles, if placed at a distance further than the diameter of the particle, create a red color, but if they are placed nearer, the red color will turn into purple,” he said.

He explained about the results of the performance of nanoparticles in the presence of cancer cells, saying “in the presence of cancer cells, after adding the functionalized gold nanoparticles, the free nanoparticles will remain in the environment and a red color can be seen.”

He went on to add, “in the absence of cancerous cells, however, after adding the functionalized gold nanoparticles, a purple color will appear.”

Hosseini compared the advantages of this method to conventional diagnostic methods, saying “using the property of gold nanoparticles obliterates the need for expensive machines and skilled experts. It also saves time during diagnosis and imposes far less costs on the patient.”

According to Hosseini, this method makes possible early detection of cancer cells among normal cells on the samples under study.

The results of the research have been published in Analytica Chimica Acta, vol. 904, 2016, pp. 92-97.

*Iranian scientist’s breakthrough helps stop ‘ticking time bomb’

Iranian scientist Sasan Sadrizadeh by designing an efficient operating room ventilation system has helped reduce bacterial infection that “should be ranked alongside terrorism on the list of threats to the human race.”

Iranian researcher Sasan Sadrizadeh, at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, in collaboration with an international research team, have published promising results on a new design of hospital operating room ventilation by using the most advanced super computers to do mathematical calculation in the field of fluid mechanics to predict airflow field and contaminant dispersion in operating rooms. This can reduce the surgical site infections among the patients undergoing surgical intervention. As many patients died annually due to this type of infections, it is a hope to save the lives of patients who are prone to air-borne infection in hospitals.

What follows is Mr. Sadrizadeh’s interview with Mehr News Agency on their recent breakthrough on what he calls a ‘ticking time bomb’:

You have made a breakthrough by introducing a new method to reduce bacterial contamination in the operating room. Can you explain in detail and in layman’s terms the purpose and findings of your research, as well as its significance and application? Where did you get the inspiration for your project?

As you know, the history of surgery is nearly as old as the human race and surgical team were struggling to overcome the three principal obstacles of infection, pain and bleeding. For patients undergoing any surgical intervention, there is always a risk that they will develop some kind of postoperative complication. One of the most challenging postoperative complication can be surgical site infection. This type of infection may extend within the surgical wound margin after the operating. These infections can be either superficial involving the skin only or they can be more serious and involve tissues, organs and implanted material. Surgical infections are very case-dependent and some patients may be at higher risk of developing postoperative infections due to factors such as age, underlying medical conditions, invasiveness of the surgery and duration of the procedure.

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*Iranian Scientist received the Gold Medal award for “best invention of the world”

Iranian Scientist received the Gold Medal award for “best invention of the world” from the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations (IFIA) for developing a Sustainable Green Cooling System (SGCS) Nuclear Power Plant in USA.

Dr. Hadi Hosseini member the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and have developed 297 inventions.

He attained the title of “The Top Inventor” in various global competitions and was awarded Gold Medals in throughout different nations including USA, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Croatia, China, South Korea, Poland, Romania, Sweden, receiving a total of 53 gold medals and awards for submissions. 

In addition, He was awarded with the “Best Invention” Gold Medal for designing and making smart and full automatically alarm system for predicting earthquake and tsunami (International Exhibition of Inventions, USA, 2014).

He holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering and have developed 297 inventions in various specialties, such as aerospace, animal welfare, mechanics, electrics, geology, medicine, environmental science and energy.  

*Source: Press TV, ISNA, Iran DailyMehr NewsIRNA