Professor Nalini Joshi AO has been awarded the Australian Mathematical Society’s George Szekeres Medal for sustained outstanding contribution to the mathematical sciences in Australia by a society member. This year the award was presented jointly to Professor Ole Warnaar of the University of Queensland.
Professor Joshi said: “I find myself overcome by a morass of emotions: surprise, pleasure, humility, gratification. It is the first award I’ve ever received from the Australian Mathematical Society. When I went to check the list of past winners, I was surprised to see that I am the first person of colour on the list.”
Professor Joshi’s contribution to the Australian and international mathematical community is considerable. She has written over 100 peer-reviewed papers together with authored and edited monographs. Her outstanding contribution to mathematics is confirmed by numerous awards and positions.
Professor Nalini Joshi is Chair of Applied Mathematics, holds a Payne-Scott Professorship at the University of Sydney, is Vice-President of the International Mathematical Union and is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. Her research focuses on mathematical methods to study systems that arise as universal models in modern physics.
According to the Australian Mathematical Society citation, Professor Joshi is a world leader in the theory and applications of differential equations, contributing mathematical results that have impact in fields as diverse as particle physics, quantum mechanics, large prime-number distributions and wireless communications. Her distinguished research record has brought numerous awards including becoming the 150th Anniversary Hardy Fellow of the London Mathematical Society in 2015.
In 2016 she was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia. Professor Joshi was the University of Sydney’s first female professor of mathematics and our first female Head of School of Mathematics. She holds a PhD and MA from Princeton University and a BSc (Hons) from the University of Sydney.
She was a Member of the Prime Minister’s Commonwealth Science Council (2014–2018), and as a Member of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Expert Advisory Group (2016–2018) and she was instrumental in development of the Decadal Plan for Mathematical Sciences.
Professor Nalini promotes mathematics to government and the wider community, and her work on the creation of the SAGE initiative has resulted in influential gender equity initiatives across the nation.
In 2018, Nalini was awarded the Eureka prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers and in 2019 was awarded a Bragg Membership of the Royal Institution of Australia and the NSW Premier’s prize for Excellence in Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry or Physics.
The George Szekeres Medal was first awarded in 2002 and was named for Hungarian-Australian mathematician George Szekeres who, with his wife and fellow mathematician Esther Szekeres, fled Nazi persecution in WWII. It is awarded in even-numbered years.