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.

The 39-year-old professor, who also serves as a distinguished professor of mathematics at the Korea Institute for Advanced Study, became the first-ever scholar of Korean descent to win the award handed down by the International Mathematical Union every four years.

The Fields Medal, first introduced in 1936, was founded to recognize and support younger mathematical scholars who have made major contributions in the field of mathematics.

He majored in physics and astronomy as an undergraduate at Seoul National University (SNU) and studied mathematics at the university's graduate school.

He was mentored by Heisuke Hironaka, a renowned Japanese mathematician and a 1970 Fields Medal recipient, who taught at SNU for a year as a visiting professor when Huh was in his last year of his undergraduate studies.

Huh is often described as a late bloomer, having told Quanta magazine in a 2017 interview that he didn't think he was good at math growing up.

One of Huh's career-defining achievements is his joint research in resolving the so-called Rota conjecture.

The Fields Medal, first introduced in 1936, was founded to recognize and support younger mathematical scholars who have made major contributions in the field of mathematics.

"I feel a sense of weight when seeing the list of previous winners," Huh said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Helsinki.

Huh said he does not engage in research necessarily with a specific goal in mind but usually tries to discover new mathematical structures and develop theories that suit them.