Latest AustMS WIMSIG Awardees

Praeger Award

Congratulations to the following awardees of the April 2023 round (Round 18) of the Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Award.

  • Isobel Rose Abell (UniMelb) — participating in the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) conference at Penn State University (USA) in May, during which the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science is holding a workshop for early career researchers on Communicating Novelty and Controversy.
  • Olivia Borghi (UniMelb) — participating in the Women in Topology Research Conference in Bonn (Germany).
  • Eve Cheng (ANU) — participating in the 28th International Conference on Statistical Physics (Statphys28) in Tokyo (Japan) in August.
  • Tamara Hogan (UniMelb) — participating in the Young Topologists Meeting 2023 in Lausanne (Switzerland).
  • Maria Kapsis (UniSA) — participating in the 25th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2023) in Darwin in July.
  • Eva Stadler (UNSW) — participating in the Gordon Research Conference “Reinvigorating Malaria Control, Prevention and Treatment: From Bench to Bedside to Bednets” in Spain and meeting with collaborators in Europe.
  • Caroline Wormell (ANU) — visiting the University of Surrey to work with Dr Vytnova and to participate in the conference “Dynamics, Bifurcations and Numerics” in July.

Maryam Mirzakhani Award

Congratulations to Paula Verdugo (Macquarie University) for being awarded the 2023 AMSI/AustMS WIMSIG Maryam Mirzakhani Award. Paula exhibited an exceptionally strong publication record for her field, wide network of collaborators, and broad range of projects.

Seeking Donations for the Maryam Mirzakhani Award 

The AMSI/AustMS WIMSIG Maryam Mirzakhani Award has been established to honour Maryam’s work as well as her role in breaking the glass ceiling for women in mathematics. Donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible.  

How to Become a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science 

Report by WIMSIG Executive Committee Member Marcy Roberston (UniMelb):

On Wednesday 31 May, WIMSIG hosted a panel discussion on the nomination process for Australian Academy of Science (AAS) fellowship and strategies for improving gender balance and general diversity within the Academy. This discussion featured a short talk from Professor Helene Marsh (Fellowship Secretary B with the AAS) on what it means to be a fellow of the Academy, a short talk from Professor Louise Ryan (Council Member with the AAS and past chair of the Mathematical Sciences Sectional Committee of the AAS) and a panel discussion with AAS Fellows Professor Catherine Greenhill, Professor Nalini Joshi, Professor Cheryl Praeger and Professor Kate Smith-Miles. 
The process for becoming a fellow of the AAS is a long one, as applications are considered over a five year period. Nominees work closely with a nominator, which must be a current fellow of the AAS, to build an application. The panel emphasised the importance of this being a true collaborative process between the nominee and nominator. Applicants are judged based on their excellence in three main areas: scientific impact, impact on their field (in Australia and internationally), and overall leadership in their community. 
The Academy is aware of the fact that there have historically been very few women and gender diverse fellows of the AAS and is working hard to correct for this fact. In fact, Professor Cheryl Praeger, a panel member, was only the second female mathematician in Australian history to be made a fellow of the AAS. A recurring theme throughout the discussion is that the main obstruction to having more diverse representation in the Academy is the lack of applications. 
All panellists emphasised the importance of scientific excellence in any application to the AAS.  They emphasised that it is important to work closely with your nominator and other fellows of the Academy to learn how to present the impact of your work to the panel. After the event, Panellist Professor Catherine Greenhill remarked: “If you trust and respect the people who want to nominate you, and they believe that you are a good candidate, then say yes. With imposter syndrome, it can be hard to say to yourself ‘I deserve this’ but it’s easier to trust your nominator and supporters when they say ‘you deserve this’.”
Panellist Professor Nalini Joshi emphasised that due to the low numbers of women and gender diverse mathematicians and statisticians in Australia, that our hopes for more representation in the Academy require the nurturing of a younger generation of researchers and teaching them how to grow the impact of the research. Her advice to young researchers was to be curious with their research — one can only know the impact their work might have in other fields by learning about those fields. She also emphasised the importance of explaining and discussing your work with others outside of your research comfort zone as, aside from being a skill one needs to write a good application to the AAS, this can grow the impact of your scientific work. 
Along these same lines of scientific impact, panellist Professor Kate Smith-Miles emphasised that applications to the Academy have a different emphasis than many applications one might make over their career. In particular, she mentioned the importance of “depth over breadth” when reflecting on your research impact. Other members of the panel noted that, as women and gender diverse academics tend to be recruited into more leadership roles that one must also consider the timing of their application with regards to their research impact. In other words, don’t wait until after that Associate Dean position to apply, apply now!


Women in Mathematics Day (May 12) events across Australia

WIMSIG, with partial support from ACEMS, has funded events at ANU, Deakin, The University of Melbourne, University of Wollongong, and The University of Queensland. 

The University of Queensland

UQ’s celebration of May 12, which drew a large and enthusiastic audience, featured a series of talks and discussions on various mathematical topics. The day began with a presentation on the work of Maryna Viazovska, the 2022 Fields Medal winner, presented by Barbara Maenhaut, Associate Professor at UQ. This was followed by a panel discussion on challenges and opportunities for women in mathematics, led by Poh Wah Hillock, Senior Lecturer at UQ. After a morning tea break, Meagan Carney, Lecturer at UQ, presented on extremal modeling in weather systems. Madeline Nurcombe, a PhD student at UQ, then spoke about the Ghost Algebra. The event continued with talks by Zsuzsi Dansco, Associate Professor at The University of Sydney, on knots, graphs, and lattices, and Inna Lukyanenko, Research Associate at UQ, on integrable Gaudin systems. After an afternoon tea break, Sophie Raynor, Lecturer at JCU, presented on gender differences appearing in performance of students from low economic background. The event concluded with a presentation by Tara Kemp, a PhD student at UQ, on Fuch’s Problem on Latin squares and Cubes.

Australian National University

The Mathematical Sciences Institute at ANU celebrated Women in Mathematics Day on Friday 12 May. After a video introduction, we had four talks on the work of Karen Uhlenbeck, Emmy Noether, Lisa Piccirillo, and Joan Birman. There were over fifty people in attendance, including undergraduates students, graduate students, postdocs, faculty and emeriti, along with people outside of the mathematics department. In addition, several people attended over Zoom. Following the talks, there was a lunch reception, where people stayed to socialise. A couple of undergraduates said it was the first time they felt a sense of belonging in the mathematics community here. The Australian Women of Mathematics exhibit was set up all day and could be seen by anyone passing through the building lobby. The books from the exhibit were laid out for passers-by to peruse. The exhibit will continue to travel around the ANU campus.

University of Wollongong

On Wednesday 10 May, the University of Wollongong hosted an event in the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics to celebrate Women in Mathematics Day. The event celebrated the birthday of Maryam Mirzakhan with small talks showcasing different paths of three women in mathematics — Maureen Edwards (HOS), Ashley Van Beek (BMathAdv, now at FinoComp), Valentina Wheeler (Wollongong), followed by networking and nibbles. We targeted the meeting towards a mixed audience of students and staff and also a general audience from the region. We had generous support from WIMSIG to whom we are grateful, as well as strong involvement from the Maths Society run by our students.

Deakin University

The 2023 Women in Mathematics event at Deakin was focused on the achievements of women mathematicians who work in multidisciplinary domains, to promote mathematics and information technology (IT) as career paths to girls and women in mathematics, IT, and engineering, and to showcase career paths of women in academia and industry. 

The event started with registration, followed by a Welcome Address and Acknowledgements. A brief video message from the WIMSIG Chair was presented. WIMSIG was promoted and participants were invited to join. 

We had three keynote speakers for the day: from industry — Ms Kerry Kirk (Principal Advisor Data Ethics and Privacy Department of Premier and Cabinet), and from academia — A/Prof Beata Ujvari (Deakin) and Dr Nadezda Sukhorukova (Swinburne). 

This was followed with a poster session to showcase students’ research work. Four prizes were awarded: one prize for the best student’s presentation and three other prizes, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize for posters. 

We had a very lively Q&A session where important topics were discussed, including career progression for women, how to increase participation of women and girls in STEM, how to develop leadership skills, and supervision of PhD students who are women. The morning tea, lunch, and two coffee breaks were very useful for networking. 

Thirty participants registered for the event and 29 participants attended (one was absent due to illness). All participants highly appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk and gave very positive feedback for the event. 

The full program, abstracts, presentations, prizes, and other details about the day can be found on our website.

The University of Melbourne

Prof Jessica Purcell gave a fascinating public lecture about the history of knot theory with a special focus on the contributions of women to the field. The talk was attended by approximately 80 people (in person) and 25 people (online). Attendees ranged from local high school students to undergraduates to professors from The University of Melbourne. After the talk, there was a catered reception where many of the young students stayed to chat about mathematics with Jessica and/or mathematicians from the School.


The University of Melbourne


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