Cheryl Praeger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cheryl Praeger

Cheryl Praeger, in Perth.jpg
Praeger by the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia
Born (1948-09-07) 7 September 1948 (age 72)
Alma mater
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Western Australia
Doctoral advisorPeter M. Neumann

Cheryl Elisabeth Praeger AC 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 a 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 maths 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 Australian National University (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 spent in 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 receiving the Prime Minister's Prize for Science in 2019

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). She was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in 1999 and promoted to Companion in 2021.

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.[13] Since 2017 the Australian Mathematics Trust has awarded the Cheryl Praeger Medal to the best performing female contestants in the Australian Mathematics Competition.[14]

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]

Praeger has been a member of the Curriculum Development Center of the Commonwealth Schools Commission, the Prime Ministers 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] Between 1992 and 2019 she was a board member of the Australian Mathematics Trust. From 2001 to 2019 she chaired the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee.[citation needed]

Between 2007 and 2014 Praeger 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.[citation needed]

Between 2014 and 2018 Praeger was Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science. She 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. Since 2019 she has been a member of the Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science of the International Science Council.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In August 1975 Praeger 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 Associate in Music, Australia (AMusA) in piano performance and was a member of the University of Western Australia Collegium Musicum between 1977 and 1985. 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/pianist since 1985. She lists keyboard music among her stronger interests along with sailing, hiking, and cycling.[4]

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


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 January 2021, she has 426 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] 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 Professor Bernhard Neumann (1999). "Interviews with Australian Scientists: Professor Cheryl Praeger Mathematician". Australian Academy of Science. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Emeritus Professor Cheryl E Praeger". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 21 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e Mulllis, Deanna (1 June 2020). "Cheryl E. Praeger". Biographies of Women Mathematicians. Agnes Scott College. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  5. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 25 January 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society". American Mathematical Society. Retrieved 26 May 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "List of honorary members of the London Mathematical Society" (PDF). London Mathematical Society. Retrieved 14 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "WA Science Hall of Fame". Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. Retrieved 10 June 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Dr. Cheryl E. Praeger and artist Metka Krašovec receive honorary doctorates from UP". University of Primorska. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "2019 Prime Minister's Prize for Science". Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Emeritus Professor Cheryl Elisabeth PRAEGER AM". It's An Honour. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  13. ^ "AustMS WIMSIG Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Awardees". Australian Mathematical Society. Retrieved 21 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "MEDIA RELEASE – New Award for Top Achieving Girls in Mathematics". Australian Mathematics Trust. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ The Sims Conjecture, THEOREM OF THE DAY, 1999, retrieved May 2018.
  16. ^ "Cheryl E Praeger's Publications". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 24 April 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Liebeck, Martin W.; Praeger, Cheryl E.; Saxl, Jan (1988). "On the O'Nan Scott Theorem for primitive permutation groups". J. Austral. Math. Soc. doi:10.1017/S144678870003216X. Retrieved 24 April 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]