Women take out record number of gongs at PM's Prizes for Science

Women take out record number of gongs at PM’s Prizes for Science

Trailblazing mathematician Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger has received the $250,000 top award at the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, one of a record number of women to be recognised on Wednesday night.

She joined four other female recipients in seeing women dominating the awards, including secondary school teacher Dr Samantha Moyle, primary school teacher Sarah Finney, Associate Professor Laura MacKay and Associate Professor Elizabeth New. They each received $50,000 prizes.

“We’ve gone from just one female recipient last year to five this year, the most ever represented in the awards,” Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said during her speech.

“I hope this will inspire even more girls and women to be involved in STEM.”

Professor Praegar was awarded for her work on the mathematics behind the cryptography used for secure banking, digital signatures and internet connections, with her algorithms incorporated into powerful computer systems used in algebra research and teaching.

The other major prize, the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation, went to a Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research team for its role in the development of a breakthrough anti-cancer drug.

The recipients included:

* The $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools to Dr Samantha Moyle for leading integrated learning in STEM and being an effective and passionate role model for her students.

* . The $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools to Mrs Sarah Finney for raising student interest and participation in science and advocating for a stronger science curriculum in South Australian schools.

* The $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year to Associate Professor Laura MacKay from The University of Melbourne for her breakthrough work in identifying the role of tissue-resident T cells in protecting the body from infection and cancer.

* The $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year to Associate Professor Elizabeth New, for pioneering the development of new chemical imaging tools to observe healthy and diseased cells.

* The $50,000 Prize for New Innovator to Dr Luke Campbell, for inventing the nuraphone, headphones that adapt to an individual’s unique hearing to enhance the audio experience.


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