Cheryl Praeger

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Cheryl Praeger
Cheryl Praeger, in Perth.jpg
Praeger by the Swan River in Perth, Australia
Born (1948-09-07) 7 September 1948 (age 70)
Alma mater
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Western Australia
Doctoral advisorPeter M. Neumann

Cheryl Elisabeth Praeger, AM, FAA, (born 7 September 1948, Toowoomba, Queensland) is an Australian mathematician. Praeger received BSc (1969) and MSc degrees from the University of Queensland (1974), and doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1973 under direction of Peter M. Neumann. She has published widely and has advised 27 PhD students (as of March 2018). She is currently Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Western Australia. She is best known for her works in group theory, algebraic graph theory and combinatorial designs.


Praeger completed her high school education at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. After graduating high school, Praeger went to the government vocational guidance section to inquire about how she could further study mathematics. The vocational guidance officer she spoke with tried to discourage her from studying mathematics further,[1] suggesting she become a teacher or a nurse because two other girls who came to him wanting to study math weren't able to pass their courses.[1] He reluctantly showed her an engineering course description, but she felt it didn't have enough mathematics. So she left without getting much information that day, but did continue on to receive her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Queensland.

Having met several women on the mathematics staff during her undergraduate studies, the prospect of becoming a mathematician didn't seem strange to her. During her first and second years she did honours studies in mathematics and physics, choosing to continue in mathematics after her second year.[1] After completing her education at University of Queensland she was offered a research scholarship at ANU but chose instead to take the Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of Oxford and attended St Anne's College. At that point she knew she wanted to study algebra.

After earning her doctorate in 1973, she obtained a research fellowship at ANU. She had her first opportunity at teaching regular classes at the University of Virginia during the semester she worked there. Afterwards, she returned to ANU, where she met her future husband, John Henstridge, who was studying statistics. She was later offered a short-term position at the University of Western Australia, which turned into a long term position, where she currently works today.[1] In 1989 she received the degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Western Australia for her work on permutation groups and algebraic graph theory.


Her career has been largely the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Western Australia. She was appointed full Professor in 1983 and was Head of the Department of Mathematics 1992–1994, inaugural Dean of Postgraduate Research Studies 1996–1998, Chair Promotions and Tenure Committee 2000–2004, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Computing and Mathematics 2003–2006, ARC Professorial Fellow 2007.[2] and ARC Federation Fellow in 2009.[3]

During her career, Praeger has been invited to speak at many conferences, including ones in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Morocco, Slovakia, Slovenia, France, Germany, USSR, Belgium, Iran, Italy, the Philippines, and Japan.[1][4]

Awards, honours and memberships[edit]

Praeger is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, former president of the Australian Mathematical Society (1992–1994 and first female President of the Society), and was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for her service to mathematics in Australia, especially through research and professional associations.[5] Other awards include:

Since 2014, the Women in Mathematics Special Interest Group of the Australian Mathematical Society bestows the Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Awards to female mathematicians.[11] Since 2017 the Australian Mathematics Trust has awarded the Cheryl Praeger Medal to the best performing female contestants in the Australian Mathematics Competition.[12]

Praeger has also held memberships with the Combinatorial Mathematics Society of Australasia, Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications, Australian Mathematics Trust, American Mathematical Society, and the London Mathematical Society. Her past affiliations have not been limited to academia.

Other Activities[edit]

She has also been a member of the Curriculum Development Center of the Commonwealth Schools Commission, the Prime Minister's Science Advisory Council, WISET Advisory Committee to the Federal Minister for Science on participation of women in Science, Engineering, and Technology, UWA Academy of Young Mathematicians Lectures, the Western Australian School Mathematics Enrichment Course Tutor, and Data Analysis Australia Pty Ltd. She has also served on the Australian Federation of University Women (Western Australian Branch) and the Nedlands Primary School Council.[4] Since 1992 she has been a board member of the Australian Mathematics Trust. Since 2001 she has chaired the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee.

Between 2007 and 2014 she was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union and between 2013 and 2016 a Vice President of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.

Between 2014 and 2018 she was Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science. Professor Praeger was elected as a Member-at-Large of the Executive Board of the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) for 2016–18 and accepted an invitation to Chair the AASSA Committee of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). She is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Inter Academy Partnership - Science, 2017-19.

Personal life[edit]

In August 1975 she married John Henstridge in Brisbane. They have two children, James (1979) and Tim (1982).[1]

In addition to holding a doctorate in mathematics, she also holds an AMusA in piano performance and is a member of the University of Western Australia Collegium Musicum. She has been a member of the Uniting Church in Australia, Nedlands Parish since 1977, functioned as an elder from 1981–1987, and as an organist since 1985. She lists keyboard music among her stronger interests along with sailing, hiking, and cycling.[4]

Praeger also promotes the involvement of women in mathematics by encouraging girls in primary and secondary schools with lectures, workshops, conferences and through Family Maths Program Australia (FAMPA), which she was key in implementing in local primary schools.[4]


Praeger's key research is in Group Theory and Combinatorics, including Analysis of algorithms and complexity, Discrete Mathematics and Geometry. She was first published in 1970 while still an undergraduate. As of September 2018, she has 395 publications total.

She has co-authored several papers on symmetric graphs and distance-transitive graphs with Tony Gardiner. She has also co-authored several papers with Peter Cameron, including the proof of Sims' Conjecture in 1983.[13]

With Jan Saxl and Martin Liebeck, she has co-authored papers on many topics including: permutation groups, primitive permutation groups, simple groups, and almost simple groups.[14] Together they co-authored "On the O'Nan Scott Theorem for primitive permutation groups". It pertains to the classification of finite simple groups, namely the classification of finite primitive permutation groups.[15] The paper contains a complete self-contained proof of the theorem. Praeger later went on to generalise the O'Nan–Scott Theorem to quasiprimitive groups.

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Interviews with Australian Scientists: Professor Cheryl Praeger Mathematician". Australian Academy of Science. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  2. ^ "UWA Staff Profile:W/Prof Cheryl Praeger AM FAA". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Federation Fellowships Selection Report for Funding commencing in 2007". Australian Research Council. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Cheryl E. Praeger". Agnes Scott College. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  5. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Leading mathematician crowned 2009 WA Scientist of the Year". Department of Commerce. 2 December 2009. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  7. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 26 May 2013.
  8. ^ List of honorary members of the London Mathematical Society, retrieved 14 October 2015.
  9. ^ [1], retrieved 10 June 2018.
  10. ^ [2] Dr. Cheryl E. Praeger and artist Metka Krašovec receive honorary doctorates from UP
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ The Sims Conjecture, THEOREM OF THE DAY, 1999, retrieved May 2018.
  14. ^ "Cheryl E Praeger's Publications". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  15. ^ Liebeck, Martin W.; Cheryl E. Praeger and Jan Saxl (1988). "On the O'Nan Scott Theorem for primitive permutation groups". J. Austral. Math. Soc. Retrieved 24 April 2013.

External links[edit]