I was born in the Ukraine near Odessa, but never finished high school...nor did I attend college as an undergraduate.
When 16, I went to Moscow, worked at odd jobs and attended math seminars at Moscow State University...who admitted me directly into graduate school at age 19.
Studying under the great Kolmogorov, I gained a doctorate in 1935 and then a "higher" doctorate in 1940.
Because I was Jewish, I had to abandon my professorship at Moscow University...and eventually immigrated to the U.S. to teach at Harvard, MIT, and Rutgers.
Some consider me one of the giants of 20th-century mathematics, even comparing me to Euler or Hilbert or Poincare.
My "foundational" research was in the areas of representation theory (basis for quantum mechanics) and integral geometry (basis for MRI/tomography).
As a teacher, my goal was to teach not only the rules of math, but also its beauty and exactness.
Israel Moiseevich Gelfand (1913 - 2009)