Australian woman wins major prize for mathematics

Typical. You wait ages for a prize-winning woman mathematician to come along and then two arrive at almost the same time.

Hot on the heels of Stanford's Maryam Mirzakhani becoming the first woman to win the Fields Medal, Professor Kate Smith-Miles, a mathematician at Monash University in Melbourne has won the 2014 Georgina Sweet Award, under the Australian Research Council's Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme.

Professor Smith-Miles's project through the fellowship aims to develop a new paradigm in algorithm testing, which she says is urgently needed to support good research practice in academia, and to avoid disasters when deploying algorithms in practice.

Her work in the past has tackled problems ranging from identity fraud detection to face recognition, stem cell modelling, and improved manufacturing design.

Professor Smith-Miles won the Australian Mathematical Society’s Medal in 2010 for her international reputation as an applied mathematician with a focus on interdisciplinary applications of mathematics.

"Maths is everywhere," she says. "And a mathematician can see the beauty in that, but also the potential."

There's a list of the other laureates here.

Georgina Sweet in 1925

Georgina Sweet, for whom the award is named, is worth a mention, too. She was an impressive pioneering woman scientist – a zoologist – and academic in the early part of the 20th century in Australia – not the most welcoming environment, I think we can safely assume.

She worked hard to have women admitted to the University of Melbourne senate and to establish the University Women's College which she served for many years until her death in 1946.

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