Chern was born in 1911 in Jiaxing, China, where he eventually studied at Nankai University in Tientsin. He was offered a scholarship to study in America but instead chose the University of Hamburg because of his high regard for Prof. Blaschke, whom he had met when the latter visited China in 1932. After World War II when Chern returned to China to work, the civil war made life too difficult and he opted to accept an attractive offer from Princeton, where he had previously spent two years on staff. From there, he held the chair of geometry at the University of Chicago until 1960, when he moved to the University of California at Berkeley. Chern won many prizes and medals, including the National Medal of Science and the Wolf Prize. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.