Immigrants Win Big: Announcing the 2014 Simons Foundation Investigators and Fields Medalists

It’s been a tremendous couple of weeks for immigrants in the math and sciences! 

First, the 2014 Simons Foundation Investigators were announced on August 13. Of the 16 scientists and mathematicians selected for the prestigious five-year awards, 15 are based in the United States, and 12 are immigrants—that’s a whopping 75% of this year’s awardees! The Simons Foundation is a private foundation based in New York City, established by the brilliant mathematician-turned-hedge fund manager and billionaire, Jim Simons, and his wife, Marilyn Simons. 

The Simons Investigators come from all over the globe, including Ukraine, Japan, Canada, and Kazakhstan. The awards are granted annually to individuals in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom in the fields of mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science, and mathematical modeling of living systems. They are given in recognition of outstanding original research, and allow awardees to pursue long-term studies of fundamental questions. 

The Fields Medal recipients were named by the International Congress of Mathematicians earlier in August. Awarded every four years to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement, the Fields Medal is the highest honor in the field, considered the “Nobel Prize” in mathematics. Of this year’s four recipients, two are from the US, and both are immigrants. 

Photo courtesy of Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani is an Iranian-born professor at Stanford University, and she is also the first woman to ever receive the Fields Medal since it was established in 1924.

Photo courtesty of Princeton University, Office of Communications

Manjul Bhargava, the other American to receive the medal, is a Canadian-born (of Indian immigrant parents) professor at Princeton University.  Both are past Simons Investigators as well. 

These awards by the Simons Foundation and by the International Congress of Mathematicians demonstrate the huge contribution immigrant scientists are making to America – especially in the vital fields of mathematics, physics, and computer science. We hope politicians and legislators in Washington are paying attention.

 Congratulations to all the winners of the Simons Investigator Awards and the Fields Medal!  

  • A Message from Jan and Marica Vilcek

    Our founders arrived as penniless refugees over fifty years ago, but with the kindness and opportunity they received in the United States, they went on to accomplish great things in biomedical science and art history. Read their statement on the recent executive order imposing a travel ban.