An internationally acclaimed mathematician from The University of Western Australia has been elected the next Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science.
Winthrop Professor Cheryl Praeger, the inaugural Director of UWA's Centre for the Mathematics of Symmetry and Computation, within the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, was elected by the fellowship of the Academy, which is made up of around 450 of Australia's top scientists. She will commence a four-year term in June 2014.
Australia's most highly cited pure mathematician and one of the world's top 200 most highly cited mathematicians, Professor Praeger was this year awarded the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal - the Academy's highest honour for physics or mathematics.
She said it was important for the Academy to have a strong advisory role on science policy.
"All of the officers, and more generally the council, have a strong role to play in building links with politicians who have an interest and responsibility for science matters," she said.
"We have a new government and we're not sure of their priorities and what's going to happen economically. I will be there to try and promote the interests of maths and science education and research in the country."
Professor Praeger was elected a Fellow of the Academy in 1996 and said she could still remember the first time she saw the Academy's landmark Shine Dome in Canberra when she was working at the Australian National University on a vacation scholarship during her time as an undergraduate.
"Since then I've had lots of service roles with the academy - I'm on the National Committee for Mathematics at the moment and I was on the Council in 2000. I'll be pleased to be more involved," she said.
Founded in 1954, the Academy aims to promote science through recognition of outstanding contributions to science; education and public awareness; science policy and international relations. As Foreign Secretary, Professor Praeger will focus on international relations and act as an ambassador for Australian science.
Currently, the Australian Academy of Science manages international programs with Europe, North America, China, India and Japan. These programs aim to improve Australian access to science and technology and to increase awareness of Australian research.
Winthrop Professor Cheryl Praeger (UWA School of Mathematics and Statistics)
Clara Dodman (Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics) (+61 8) 6488 5079
UWA Public Affairs Media Team (+61 8) 6488 7977 / (+61 4) 32 637 716