MATH+ Hanna Neumann Fellow 2024: Zahra Mokhtari

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We are delighted to announce that Zahra Mokhtari, a postdoctoral researcher at Freie Universität Berlin, has been awarded the Hanna Neumann Fellowship 2024. Congratulations! 


Named after the outstanding Berlin mathematician Hanna Neumann, who made key contributions in group theory, the MATH+ Hanna Neumann Fellowship is advertised and awarded annually to female postdoctoral researchers in recognition of outstanding work. It is awarded to an early career researcher based in Berlin and provides funding for a research stay abroad or for inviting key collaborators for up to six months.


In an candid and open-minded interview with MATH+, Zahra Mokhtari discussed her career journey in Iran, Canada, and Göttingen, her supporters, and the individuals who influenced her career and passion for physics and mathematics. She shared how she was inspired by the achievements of Fields Medal winner Maryam Mirzakhani, who, like herself, attended the same school in Tehran. Zahra also elaborated on her current research and offered advice to young female researchers regarding career choices and network building.

Please read the entire interview regarding her award here.


Zahra Mokhtari has been a postdoctoral researcher at Freie Universität Berlin in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science since 2020. She grew up in Iran and studied Physics in Tehran before moving to Vancouver, Canada, where she completed her master’s degree in Physics in 2013. She then pursued her doctoral studies at the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Göttingen under the supervision of Annette Zippelius, earning her PhD in Statistical Physics in 2018. Since 2019, she has held the position of postdoctoral researcher at Freie Universität Berlin, collaborating with Felix Höfling since June 2020. Here, she continues her research in the field of non-equilibrium stochastic many-body systems. The research group has developed an agent-based model for path formation in ant colonies based on non-reciprocal coupling to a secondary field. This work diverges from the models typically studied in the literature, laying the groundwork for the current MATH+ project EF4-10.


About the German mathematician Hanna Neumann:

Hanna Neumann (1914-1971) was born in Berlin and was forced to leave Germany in 1938. Her son Peter Neumann, also a mathematician, remembers not only her distinguished career but also her exciting life in a video talk at Gresham College titled “Hanna Neumann: A Mathematician in Difficult Times”. Hanna Neumann’s family was delighted that MATH+ chose to name a fellowship to support young women mathematicians after her.