Jordana Cepelewicz in Quanta:
June Huh often finds himself lost. Every afternoon, he takes a long walk around Princeton University, where he’s a professor in the mathematics department. On this particular day in mid-May, he’s making his way through the woods around the nearby Institute for Advanced Study — “Just so you know,” he says as he considers a fork in the path ahead, “I don’t know where we are” — pausing every so often to point out the subtle movements of wildlife hiding beneath leaves or behind trees. Among the animals he spots over the next two hours of wandering are a pair of frogs, a red-crested bird, a turtle the size of a thimble, and a quick-footed fox, each given its own quiet moment of observation.
“I’m very good at finding stuff,” he says. “That’s one of my special abilities.”
Huh, 39, has now been awarded the Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics, for his ability to wander through mathematical landscapes and find just the right objects — objects that he then uses to get the seemingly disparate fields of geometry and combinatorics to talk to each other in new and exciting ways.