Awards for Australian Mathematicians

This week the Australian Mathematical Society recognises the work of leading Australian mathematicians at its 64th Annual Meeting.

The virtual event, hosted by the University of New England, started today and saw the award of the AustMS Medal, the biennial George Szekeres Medal, the Society’s Award for Teaching Excellence, the Gavin Brown Prize, and the Mahony–Neumann–Room Prize. These prizes cover the breadth of contributions of mathematicians—from distinguished research of a mid-career researcher to sustained outstanding contributions; from teaching to a specific breakthrough publication in the last decade.

Later in the week the Society will award the B.H. Neumann Prize for the best student talk at the Annual Meeting, but until then there is a new podcast started by one of last year’s winners aiming to interview as many past Neumann Prize winners as possible.

In what follows I want to give a sense of what the medals were awarded for alongside the official citations. I also asked the winners some questions, you can see their answers below.

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The Neumann Talk podcast

We’re excited to announce the launch of a short-term podcast series, “The Neumann Talk”, produced by several UNSW Mathematics and Statistics staff members and students!

Each episode, our PhD candidate Yudhi Bunjamin (and joint-winner of the 2019 B.H. Neumann Prize) will interview a past winner of the B.H. Neumann Prize. The discussions will focus on the recipients’ journeys through the world of mathematics and statistics, and the ways in which they communicate ideas in maths.

The podcast series is available on all the usual platforms (Spotify, Apple, etc.). Tune into the intro episode to hear about the motivation for the podcast as well as our first interview with Ian Wanless. We’ll be dropping a new episode every week. We hope you enjoy it and find it insightful!

Winners of the scienceXart school photography competition

This year is the 100th anniversary of the International Mathematical Union, and in honour of this the Australian Academy of Science chose the theme ‘spot the maths’ for this year’s scienceXart competition. The competition was open to school students of all ages, with winners chosen in several year-level brackets: Foundation–Year 3, Years 4–6, Years 7–9 and Years 10–12. There was also a separate category dedicated to statistics. The winners can be seen at this link.

Open for entries from 28 June to 25 September, the competition engaged students with the mathematical sciences and highlighted the inherent creativity of maths. The competition received close to 1000 submissions from students all around Australia. The judging panel and Academy shortlisting team enjoyed the high quality and creative submissions that combined maths and art.

Dr Julia Collins of Edith Cowan University was on the judging panel and said “I was blown away by both the quality of the winning photos and also the creativity of how these students had seen unexpected mathematics in the world around us. From the spirals in shells and plants to circles made by falling raindrops and the hexagons in bubbles and beehives. Or the symmetry in a chairlift, the number patterns in playgrounds, and the wonderful visual statistics of swallows on a fence.”

The student who won each bracket will receive a STEM-related prize pack for themselves and their class.

Dr Collins noted that “The winners should be very proud of their achievements, and I encourage everyone to take a look at the shortlist of impressive photographs. I can’t wait to see what the 2021 competition will bring!” 

CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Emerging Infectious Diseases


Closing Date: 16th January 2021

CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellowships provide opportunities to scientists and engineers who have completed their doctorate and have less than three years relevant postdoctoral work experience. These fellowships aim to develop the next generation of future leaders of the innovation system. CERC Postdoctoral Fellows are appointed for three years or part time equivalent.

Emerging infectious diseases are of global concern, as highlighted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. More than 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin (transmitted from animals to humans), and their incidence has tripled over the past 30 years. The increase of outbreaks been driven by a variety of factors including human encroachment into wildlife habitats, increasing urbanisation and climate change; Asia in particular is a global hotspot for zoonotic infectious disease emergence. CSIRO and JCU have partnered to build a research programme on emerging infectious diseases, focussing in Northern Australia and the IndoPacific region.

The focus of this position is on developing a digital decision support platform for detection and monitoring of emerging and neglected tropical diseases in Northern Australia and the IndoPacific region. The successful candidate is also expected to contribute more broadly to the overall research programme, based on their skills and interests.

For more information and to apply, click here.

Preparing to Teach the Class of 2020

A/Prof Katherine Seaton and Dr Anthony Morphett have written an article that will appear in the March issue of the AustMS Gazette. It is being posted here early in advance of the start of next academic year, as it is relevant for those preparing to teach first-year mathematics.

The abstract is as follows:

When the high school graduates of 2020 arrive in our first year maths courses in 2021 (a gap year not really being on the cards), what should we expect? All Australian students experienced some level of disruption to their studies in 2020 due to COVID-19, though the impact of the pandemic was greatest in Victoria. This note summarises what we see as the most relevant changes to senior secondary mathematics in 2020 for Australian tertiary mathematics educators.

You can access the article at this link (pdf).

Postdoctoral Researcher

Oxford Protein Informatics group
Department of Statistics
University of Oxford

Closing Date: 8th January 2021

Grade 8: £41,526- £49,553 p.a. 

There is an exciting new opportunity in the Oxford Protein Informatics group for a postdoctoral researcher to work in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. We are recruiting to the vacancy now, for someone to start as soon as possible. You will carry out research in the area of immunoinformatics, in a dynamic and collaborative group and department, where our research is world-leading.

We need you to hold a relevant PhD/DPhil and to have programming experience. Your track record will include working with protein data in particular knowledge of antibody and/or general protein engineering. Interested in working in immunoinformatics, you will be an excellent communicator with an appreciation of the different working environments on offer in industry and academia.

Queries about this post should be addressed to Professor Charlotte Deane ( ) or Dr Dan Nissley (

This post is fixed-term for three years, in the first instance.

For more information and to apply, click here.

PhD in geometric group theory/theoretical computer science

University of Technology Sydney
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

A PhD place is available starting in 2021 in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, to work with Professor Murray Elder (UTS) and Dr Adam Piggott (ANU) on the project “Geodetic groups: foundational problems in algebra and computer science”.

Candidates with a strong interest and demonstrated skills in algebra, combinatorics and/or theoretical computer science are sought, who are able to contribute collaboratively to a research team as well as being able to work independently and self-motivated.

The recipient must be a domestic student (Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident or NZ Citizen). Applicants from all backgrounds including traditionally underrepresented groups are welcomed. 

Essential Skills/Qualifications 

  • First class Honours or MSc or equivalent 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English 
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to deadlines 
  • Demonstrated problem solving abilities and analytical skills 
  • The ability to work independently as well as collaboratively as a member of a team 


  • Previous studies or work in geometric group theory and/or formal language theory, automata, rewriting systems 
  • Programming skills 

The recipient will receive a domestic Commonwealth Research Training Program scholarship (RTP Stipend) at the 2021 indexed RTP rate of $28,597 pa for 3 years.

The successful student will be expected to enrol for Research Session 1 (previously known as Autumn Session) between 1 January to 30 May 2021.     

Please direct enquiries to 

Mathematical Biology Special Interest Group Best Student Paper Prize

The MBSIG will offer a best student paper prize annually, for an exceptional paper in the field of mathematical biology. The winner of this prize will be awarded $300AUD and will be invited to present the paper at the annual MBSIG meeting, associated with the ANZIAM conference. 

Closing date    16th  December 2020

Eligibility    The prize is open to any student affiliated with the MBSIG. The award may be shared by multiple student authors who have contributed substantially to the same paper.

The awardee(s) must:

  • have been normally resident in Australia or New Zealand at the time the research was conducted.
  • be a fully paid-up member of ANZIAM. 

The paper nominated must have:

  • been submitted while the awardee was enrolled as a student (undergraduate or postgraduate), but acceptance may have occurred subsequent to conferral of the nominee’s degree,
  • published in final form within the 18 months preceding the closing date for the prize. This includes early online access on the journal webpage.

Decisions regarding eligibility will be made by the judging panel, whose decision will be final. 

Application material    Please submit:

  •  an electronic copy of the paper, 
  • a statement of contributions (<200 words, if the paper is multi-authored), 
  • a statement of eligibility, 
  • a (<500 word) summary, in your own words, of the significance of the paper. Consider questions such as: Why is the work important to you, and to the field? Which aspects of the work are you most proud of? Where might the research go next?

Submissions must be made to by midnight Eastern Standard Time on the closing date.

Judges     The judging panel will consist of three members of the MBSIG committee and/or nominees determined by the committee, and judging panel will rotate annually.

Criteria    We expect there to be a broad collection of papers submitted, covering a range of mathematical biology topics. Novel mathematical techniques will be weighted equally to novel applications by the judging committee. Criteria to be considered by the judging panel include:

  • Originality and impact
  • The contribution of the nominee(s)

Two PhD Scholarships in calcium dynamics

Department of Mathematics
University of Auckland

Closing Date: 15th January 2021

Two PhD studentships are available in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Auckland, for work on a project in the general field of calcium dynamics. Successful applicants will have have an Honours or Masters degree in some area of quantitative science (such as Mathematics, Physics or Engineering) and will have a demonstrated interest in applications of mathematical techniques to real-world problems and data, particularly those arising in medicine, physiology or biology. A good background in dynamical systems and scientific programming is desirable. Successful applicants will work with the researchers James Sneyd, Vivien Kirk and Marie Graff at the University of Auckland, and Martin Wechselberger at the University of Sydney. 

The positions will be available starting in March 2021, and come with funding that will cover tuition fees and an annual stipend of $27,500 NZD for three years.

Interested candidates should send their cv, a copy of their academic record, and a brief statement of why they are interested in the position, to James Sneyd, at, or to Vivien Kirk, at There is no formal closing date for applications, but those received by January 15th will receive priority. 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The School of Mathematics and Physics
University of Queensland

Closing date: 18th December 2020

This opportunity is for a postdoctoral research fellow to conduct research on the Australian Research Council funded Discovery Project Towards Logarithmic Representation Theory of W-algebras.

This position is located at our picturesque St Lucia campus, renowned as one of Australia’s most attractive university campuses, and located just 7km from Brisbane’s city centre. Bounded by the Brisbane River on three sides, and with outstanding public transport connections, our 114-hectare site provides a perfect work environment – you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a vibrant campus with the tradition of an established university.

For more information and to apply, click here.