Zvezdelina Stankova is a professor at Mills College in Oakland, CA, and directs the Berkeley Math Circle. 


She is a visiting professor at UC Berkeley. She was drawn to mathematics when, as a fifth grader, she joined the math circle at her school in Bulgaria and won the Regional Math Olympiad three months later. 

She went on to compete on the Bulgarian National Team at the Balkan Mathematical Olympiad in Romania 1986 and at the International Mathematical Olympiads (IMO) in Cuba (1987) and Australia (1988), earning three silver medals. Dr. Stankova completed her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College in 1992, and in 1997 she received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in the field of algebraic geometry. Meanwhile, she earned high school teaching credentials in Massachusetts and later in California. 

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) and UC Berkeley in 1997-1999, Zvezda co-founded the Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad (BAMO) and started the Berkeley Math Circle. Her pioneering work inspired dozens of new circles throughout the US and abroad. She trained the USA national IMO team for six years, including in 2001 when three of the six team members were from her circle, and USA tied with Russia for a second place overall in the world.

In 2004, the Mathematical Association of America awarded her the first Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member. In 2009, she co-edited with Tom Rike the book A Decade of the Berkeley Math Circle – the American Experience, Volume I, which was among the 2009 top 10 bestsellers of the American Mathematical Society. In January 2011, at the joint AMS/MAA meetings in New Orleans, MAA awarded Zvezda the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. In 2012, she was listed in Princeton’s Review “300 Best Professors.”

Zvezda’s most enduring passion remains working at the Berkeley Math Circle every year with about 350 pre-college students who are interested in mathematics and motivated to discover new mathematical wonders.

Ph.D., Harvard University