Cheryl Praeger named as 2009 Western Australian Scientist of the Year

Cheryl Praeger at UWA has just been named 2009 Western Australian Scientist of the Year, after becoming a finalist last week.    Congratulations Cheryl!

[Via SymOmega.]


Positions at Australian National University

[Via Jim Borger.]

Permanent positions
These positions are at levels B and C, which are the Australian equivalent of an assistant or associate professorship. It is important to add that, as is usual in the Australian system, the positions at both levels are permanent — there is no serious tenure-review process. All strong candidates currently in post-docs or tenure-track positions are encouraged to apply.

Some preference may be given to the areas of algebra and algebraic geometry, broadly interpreted. We are also looking for someone in stochastic analysis, statistics and applications. But we welcome strong applications in all areas. For applicants in Applied Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, and Statistics, joint appointments with other departments will be considered.

The teaching duties are approximately “2 and 1”, for a total of 3 semester-length classes per year. There is also the possibility of having that reduced.

The closing date for these positions is 30 November 2009.

Post-doc positions
There will be 3 post-docs.  They are purely or primarily research positions.

1. Complex and/or differential geometry and/or Lie groups
This is a five-year fixed-term position.
There will be some teaching duties.
The closing date for this position is 30 November 2009.
Contact Michael Eastwood for more information.

The following two post-docs are awaiting administrative go-ahead and will soon be open for application.

2. Algebraic geometry and/or algebraic topology
This will be a three-year position, with a possibility of renewal.
Any teaching duties will be minimal.
Contact Amnon Neeman for more information.

3. Number theory and/or algebraic geometry
This will be a two-year position, with a possibility of renewal.
Any teaching duties will be minimal.
Contact James Borger for more information.

How to apply

The easiest way is to apply directly to the Mathematics Department. To do this, email the following to
1. an application letter (‘cover letter’) saying which position
you’re applying for and giving the names and email addresses of
three references
2. a CV

For more information, go to the following page:

Mathematics skills out for the count

Two recent articles in the Daily Telegraph, “Students in almost 60 percent of high schools taught by unqualified teachers” and “Mathematics skills out for the count“, highlight two key (and related) concerns in Australian mathematics education: the continuing shortages of skilled maths teachers in high schools (with one in five schools having at least one maths teacher without full qualifications, according to a recent Australian Education Union survey), and the long-term decline in enrollments in advanced maths classes (stabilising a bit in the last year or so, but still 15-25 percent below the numbers from a decade earlier).

[Thanks to Phillip Booker for the links.]

Federal government awards $2 million for Improving Mathematics Education in Schools project

As reported today on the Funneled Web, the Federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has announced a $2 million grant to fund the “Improving Mathematics Education in Schools” project, an initiative run by AMSI in collaboration with industry and teachers to promote mathematics education and awareness of mathematics career opportunities, particularly in low-income areas.

See also the recent opinion piece by Jan Thomas of AMSI on a related topic.

Message from AMSI regarding proposed cuts at Victoria University

The new director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, Geoff Prince, has written an open letter to the Vice Chancellor and President of Victoria University, Elizabeth Harman, regarding the proposed severe cuts in the mathematics and statistics departments (from 8.5 FTE to 4.5 FTE) through targeted. (We posted about these cuts in a previous post.)

Concerted pressure of this type by the mathematical community can make a difference; strong protests over similar actions by the University of Southern Queensland resulted in a significant reduction in the staff cuts, and USQ afterwards hired several maths and stats faculty (including one who had they made redundant!) after they realised that the cuts that they did enact left them unable to fulfill their mathematical teaching obligations.

The letter is provided in full below the fold.  (Reproduced with permission.)

Continue reading

Jurassic Quark

Something non-serious for a change: CSIRO’s contribution to a performance entitled “CSIRO” for the 2009 University of Sydney Science Revue:  “Jurassic Quark”:

Nobel Prize Laureates

Among this year’s Nobel Prize Laureates is the Australian-American molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, currently at UC San Francisco, for her work with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak on their work on telomeres and their role in protecting chromosomes.  In the US, Blackburn is perhaps best known for being controversially dismissed from President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics after expressing support for embryonic stem cell research.

The Canadian physicist Williard Boyle, who won one of this year’s three Nobel Prizes in Physics for his co-invention of the imaging semiconductor circuit with George Smith, commented recently about the increasing tendency of governments to impose bureaucratic constraints on scientific research:

Dr. Boyle, who won the award with former colleague George Smith, warned that managers need to give scientists leeway to come up with the kinds of transformative inventions that are too often stifled by paperwork and red tape.

What scientists face today is “almost disgraceful … The bureaucrats want to get a hold of the money and ask for business plans. Now do you think that George Smith and I ever wrote a business plan? Not at all,” Dr. Boyle, now 85 and retired, told a reporter Tuesday. “You don’t have time to do that kind of baloney.”