Cheryl Praeger

Cheryl Praeger is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Western Australia, and was the inaugural Director of the Centre for the Mathematics of Symmetry and Computation. She is the immediate past Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science, and actively supports scientists in the Asia-Pacific region, in particular women in STEM, through her work with national and international scientific bodies.

Professor Praeger is a pure mathematician specialising in the theory of group actions. Her research in Algebra and Combinatorics has transformed our understanding of how groups act on large complex systems, through new theories, constructions, algorithms and designs, which exploit the classification of the finite simple groups. She was the first pure mathematician to win an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship, and in 2019 she became the first pure mathematician to be awarded the Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

In 2021 Professor Praeger was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for “eminent service to mathematics […] and as a champion of women in STEM careers”. Elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1996, she was the first woman in 83 years to receive the Academy’s Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal (2013), and in 2021 she was the inaugural recipient of the Ruby Payne-Scott Medal and Lecture for Women in Science.

Her published research includes 430 journal articles and six research monographs, many of them with her students (30 PhD students, 10 research masters students, 21 postdoctoral research associates) and research colleagues. Cheryl has received honorary doctorates from Universities in six countries on three continents.  She was the first woman to be President of the Australian Mathematical Society.

Cheryl Praeger’s sustained service to Mathematics and Science extends internationally:  on the Executive of the International Mathematical Union, as Vice-President of the International Commission for Mathematical Instruction, on the Executives of the Inter Academy Partnership, Science, and the Association of Academies and Societies for Science in Asia. She is active in supporting and mentoring young scientists, especially women.