2014 Australian Mathematical Society awards announced

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MELBOURNE, 8 December 2014. Whether you hit a drum or pluck a guitar string. Whether you’re insuring a portfolio of investments or conceptualising the symmetries in nature, what you’re hearing, seeing and thinking can be described by mathematics.

This week the Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS) honours four mathematicians for their recent and career-long research. Their work has deep intrinsic value and applications in many other complex problems arising throughout the sciences and, perhaps surprisingly, the arts and business.

The awards will be presented Monday morning to coincide with the welcoming ceremony of the 8th Australia New Zealand Mathematics Convention. This weeklong symposium brings together members of the AustMS and the New Zealand Mathematical Society and is held every six years. This year the University of Melbourne plays host to 477 talks — including 10 plenary lectures and 2 public lectures, 16 special sessions and a poster session.


Professor Cheryl Praeger AM, FAA, will receive the society’s career award, the George Szekeres Medal. Awarded in even years, this prize honours mathematicians who have made an outstanding contribution to the mathematical sciences over an extended period. Cheryl is internationally renowned, collaborating with world leading mathematicians and statisticians; she was the second woman to be appointed as a Professor of Mathematics in Australia. And this year, she becomes the first woman to receive the AustMS Career Award. While Cheryl boasts an exceptional research career in the mathematical disciplines of Group Theory and Combinatorics, with more than 350 published journal articles and books, she has spent many years promoting the benefits of international collaboration and being an inspiring role model for women in mathematics. She is a Fellow, and currently Foreign Secretary, of the Australian Academy of Science, Vice President of the International Commission for Mathematical Instruction. She is also an Honorary Life Member and former president of the AustMS, and this year was elected an Honorary Member of the London Mathematical Society, joining Einstein and Australian Fields Medallist Terry Tao.


Each year the AustMS Medal is awarded to a society member under the age of 40 with outstanding research contributions. This year’s recipient, Associate Professor Josef Dick, has published 76 papers, and a book, and has six papers ready to appear. With 30 collaborators from 10 countries, this young academic has an enviable reputation. Josef’s work is mainly in computational mathematics; he specialises in numerical integration and discrepancy theory. Josef enjoys the coast close to his base at the University of New South Wales, and is very humble when speaking of his award: “It’s a huge honor to receive this medal,” he says. “The list of past awardees is full of outstanding mathematicians and to find my name there as well is just phenomenal.”


Professor Ben Andrews and Dr Julie Clutterbuck will jointly receive the Gavin Brown Best Paper Prize for their publication Proof of the Fundamental Gap Conjecture. Ben and Julie used novel methods to solve this long-standing conjecture. The Chair of the Gavin Brown Prize committee says: “The result is clean and its formulation could be understood using second year undergraduate mathematics. The research is beneficial not only to mathematics, but also to physics – Ben and Julie’s achievement has been acclaimed around the world.”

Mathematics and statistics are the only subjects whose study consistently enhances performance across all fields of science. The AustMS takes great pride in monitoring, rewarding and supporting Australian mathematical scientists. We are also aware of the vital role we play in communicating the importance of the mathematical sciences to the community at large.

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Stéphanie Pradier, AMSI
M: +61 (0) 424 568 314
E: stephanie@amsi.org.au

Peter Forrester, President, AustMS

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