• Written by Michael Hopkin, Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation
Cheryl Praeger was awarded the 2019 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. She has spent more than four decades inspiring a love for maths in others, and has created a vast body of academic work in the process. SUPPLIED, Author provided

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science has been awarded to a University of Western Australia professor whose outstanding career has greatly contributed to mathematics.

Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger received the accolade for her input in various categories of maths. These include contributions to group theory, permutation groups, combinatorics and the mathematics of symmetry.

Algorithms made by Prof Praeger have been used in powerful computer systems and have transformed the way algebra is researched and taught.

Her research has also enabled search engines to retrieve information from the internet more effectively.

Prof Praeger said her love for maths was grounded in its ability to give meaning to the world around her. Regarding the future of her field, she said she was most excited about quantum computing.

“As our technology advances and our world changes, the mathematical challenges are there and they continue on and on,” she said.


Read more: Prime Minister’s Prize for Science 2018 goes to 'Earth-watcher' Kurt Lambeck


Prof Praeger was the second woman ever to become a professor of mathematics at an Australian university. But she said she’d since noticed a positive shift in women’s participation in STEM fields.

“It’s important to make use of all of our talents, and if we ignore half of the population, I don’t think we’re doing our best,” Prof Praeger said.

Various other scientists received accolades at the awards ceremony, held on the evening of October 16 at Parliament House in Canberra.

Associate Professor Peter Czabotar, Professor David Huang, Professor Guillaume Lessene and Professor Andrew Roberts of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research were awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation, for their role in the development of anti-cancer drug venetoclax.

The drug binds to and inhibits the protein BCL-2, which in the 1980s was found to contribute to cancer growth. It’s now available nationally and internationally to patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Apart from recognising the achievements of scientists and innovators, the prizes also acknowledge educators who inspire students to pursue a career in a science field.

One such person is Brighton Secondary School teacher Dr Samantha Moyle, who received the award for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.

Dr Moyle was commended for her commitment to offering students innovative lessons with real-world links.

In the classroom, she has made fizzy bath bombs for Mother’s Day to teach acid base reactions, and created terrariums with different ecosystems to show students how living and non-living components of the environment interact.

She said she wanted to foster an appreciation for science in her students by providing “creative, hands-on, and dynamic approaches to learning science”.

“I want it to be fun and exciting for them, and also have a genuine enthusiasm and passion for the subject,” Dr Moyle said.

“… STEM learning is vital because it builds creativity, it builds capability and resilience, and it shows the students that learning doesn’t occur just in silos. Everything is connected.”

She was recognised as a role model for her students, and for her position as lead teacher in the school’s Think Bright program for integrated STEM learning.

The primary school category prize was awarded to Stirling East Primary School teacher Sarah Finney.

Other Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science award recipients included:

• Associate Professor Elizabeth New, who received the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for pioneering the development of molecular imaging tools to study anti-cancer drugs

• Associate Professor Laura Mackay, who received the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for discovering that memory T cells in tissues of the body are critical in providing a frontline defence against infection


Read more: Fighting frog fungus: Lee Berger wins PM's Life Scientist 2018 award


• Dr Luke Campbell, who received the Prize for New Innovators for inventing the nuraphone, a pair of headphones that automatically learn and adapt to an individual’s unique hearing in less than a minute.

This year marks two decades since the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science were started. Each year, award recipients share a total prize pool of $750,000.

Prizes are given to individuals across varied disciplines and in different stages of their careers. They’re presented to those who demonstrate outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science teaching.

Nominations for the 2020 awards open early next year. Individuals can be nominated by their peers.

For more information click here.

Authors: Michael Hopkin, Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/prime-ministers-science-prizes-awarded-for-algebra-expertise-anti-cancer-research-and-excellence-in-science-teaching-125307

Questions Every Dissociative Survivor should ask a New Therapist

Many trauma patients don't admit that they need help. Some deal with it by concealing the feelings and memories, hoping that they will disappear. However, trauma doesn't go away that easily; it burrow...

News Company - avatar News Company

'It is quite startling': 4 photos from space that show Australia before and after the recent rain

National MapEditor’s note: These before-and-after-images from several sources –NASA’s Worldview application, National Map by Geoscience Australia and Digital Earth Australia –...

Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling - avatar Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling

Bernie Sanders easily wins Nevada caucus; the Coalition regains support in Newspoll

LARRY W. SMITH/EPABernie Sanders has easily won the Nevada Democratic caucus, cementing his status as front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the US presidential election. With 88% of precin...

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne - avatar Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This time is different: Australia's tourist numbers may take years to recover

Australia’s catastrophic bushfire season has done immense damage to Australia’s tourist industry. Then, just as heavy rain began to bring the situation under control, came the coronavirus ...

John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland

We won't have fusion generators in five years. But the holy grail of clean energy may still be on its way

CCFE / JETRecent reports from scientists pursuing a new kind of nuclear fusion technology are encouraging, but we are still some distance away from the “holy grail of clean energy”. The...

Matthew Hole, Senior Research Fellow, Mathematical Sciences Institute, Australian National University - avatar Matthew Hole, Senior Research Fellow, Mathematical Sciences Institute, Australian National University

Labor’s climate policy is too little, too late. We must run faster to win the race

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s announcement on Friday that a Labor government would adopt a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 was a big step in the right direction. But a bit of simple ...

Will Steffen, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University - avatar Will Steffen, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University

Burnt is out, 'skinscreen' is in. How sunscreen got a beauty makeover

Instagram/#CalltimeonmelanomaUnder Australia’s harsh sun, we’ve long slapped on sunscreen to protect ourselves from skin damage and cancer. Now the product, once known for protecting sk...

Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University - avatar Lauren Gurrieri, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University

I think my child has outgrown their food allergy. How can I be sure?

ShutterstockSome children grow out of their food allergies, but researchers don’t exactly know why. Here’s how to work with your allergy specialist if you suspect your child isn’t ...

Paxton Loke, Paediatric Allergist and Immunologist, Murdoch Children's Research Institute - avatar Paxton Loke, Paediatric Allergist and Immunologist, Murdoch Children's Research Institute

More than 70% of the Universe is made of 'dark energy', the mysterious stuff even stranger than dark matter

ShutterstockYou’ve heard of dark matter. You’ve probably heard there’s a fair bit of it out there in space, and that astronomers don’t know for sure what it is. But, strange...

Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling - avatar Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company