Professor Cheryl Praeger AM

Honorary award citation

Deputy Chancellor

Professor Cheryl Praeger, AM, is an eminent UQ-educated mathematician whose work has growing relevance in a world increasingly influenced by algorithms and hyperconnectivity.

Born in Toowoomba in southeast Queensland, Professor Praeger attended a series of regional schools before completing secondary studies at Brisbane Girls Grammar. 

Although she he had won first prize in a senior school mathematics competition, she was told by a government vocational guidance officer that girls would likely fail university maths. Undeterred, she excelled in maths and physics at university, even publishing in an international journal while still an undergraduate.

By the early 1970s she had graduated with first class honours, the university medal in mathematics, and a masters degree from UQ, and was soon bound for the University of Oxford, where she attained a second masters degree and a doctorate.

Her career since has been that of a trailblazer on many fronts. At times the most highly-cited pure mathematician working in Australia, Professor Praeger has conducted world-leading research on group actions and their applications to the study of networks, combinatorial designs and geometry, as well as randomised algorithms for fast computation with complex symmetric structures.  

Her pioneering work is in the vanguard of the finite simple group classification, demonstrating how this ground-breaking result has dramatic consequences spanning algebra, combinatorics and other mathematical areas. 

In 1983, seven years after beginning work at The University of Western Australia, Professor Praeger was the first Australian-born woman appointed as a full professor in mathematics at any Australian university. 

She has been the first female president of the Australian Mathematical Society, the first Australia-based executive committee member of the International Mathematical Union, the first pure mathematician to receive an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship, an inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society, a foundation board member of the Australian Mathematics Trust, and a core member of the first Australian Prime Minister’s Science and Engineering Council.  

Professor Praeger has published with over 150 co-authors in many countries and varied fields, held visiting appointments in six countries, and filled editorial positions on numerous international journals. 

Through Australian and overseas service, Professor Praeger has supported women in mathematics, advocated for school maths at all levels, and promoted the discipline in emerging economies. 

Having supervised dozens of research students (who are now working in industry and academia in Australia and other countries), she has earned Australian Government recognition for “developing the gold standard in mathematics research supervision”.

Professor Praeger is currently Foreign Secretary and a member of the Council of the Australian Academy of Science. She has received a plethora of state, national and international fellowships, memberships and accolades, including Honorary Life Membership of the Australian Mathematical Society, and Honorary Membership of the London Mathematical Society. There is even the Cheryl Praeger Medal - a new annual award for female secondary school maths students, created by the Australian Mathematics Trust.

Moreover, she is an accomplished keyboard musician and has been an organist of her Uniting Church parish since 1985. 

Deputy Chancellor, I present to you Professor Cheryl Praeger, Member of the Order of Australia, Bachelor of Science with first class honours and Master of Science of this University, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Oxford, Doctor of Science of The University of Western Australia, Doctor of Science honoris causa of the Prince of Songkhla University, Doctor of Science honoris causa of Université libre de Bruxelles, Doctor of Mathematics Education honoris causa of Yazd University, Doctor of Science honoris causa of the University of St Andrews, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Fellow of the Australian Mathematics Society and Fellow of Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications, for the award of Doctor of Mathematics honoris causa, bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.


Doctor of Mathematics honoris causa


Doctor of Mathematics honoris causa