Australian Maths Trust


The 2004 BH Neumann Awardees were Anthony Guttmann, Anna Nakos and Jamie Simpson. They were presented with their awards at separate ceremonies and their citations follow.

Anna receives her Award from Professor Taylor.

Anna Nakos, an Assistant Principal at Temple Christian College, Adelaide, received a BH Neumann Award from Trust Executive Director Peter Taylor at a function at the Scarth Room, University House, Australian National University, Canberra on Saturday 29 May 2004.

Anna was born to Greek immigrant parents and attended schools in Adelaide, including Adelaide High School, where she received inspiration in mathematics from teacher Jack Sheehan, a legendary teacher who encouraged students to think deeper, question the question, seek alternatives, value the journey and not just the destination, never to give up and to always give it a go. Anna was impressed by teachers generally at this school who would use lunchtimes to help students.

She then went on to the University of Adelaide, where mathematics was more challenging. She found it interesting to know of the research interests of her lecturers who include Professor Ren Potts and Dr Ray Casse.

She particularly enjoyed writing an honours thesis in which she did some mathematical modelling on the electrical activity of the heart, and then went on to complete a Dip. Ed at the same University.

In her first teaching appointment she found students difficult to motivate about Pythagoras, but eventually found a method which involved wearing a white sheet and a wreath of olives.

She managed to obtain experience with projects, particularly working with Peter Briggs. These included the use of spreadsheets, the South Australian Mathematics project, and while appointed at Underdale High School she won the prestigious John Gaffney Award.

This entitled Anna to attend the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers Biennial Conference in Perth in 1991. This was an exciting experience for her, resulting in her meeting Peter O’Halloran and Bruce Henry and joining the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians problems Committee.

This provided further professional development for Anna and she enrolled in a Masters, in which she tracked the problem solving progress of students in the Challenge.

After the conference in Perth, she also took up an appointment at Temple Christian College, where she has been Head of the Mathematics Department and Assistant to the Principal. She has during this appointment been able to create a number of gifted and talented programs, including extension programs in mathematics, Tournament of Minds, future problem solving, CSIRO Science extension and Waterwatch.

In 2003 Anna became the South Australian Director of the Australian Mathematics Competition for the Westpac Awards.

Peter Taylor
Saturday 29 May 2004

Tony Guttmann receives his BH Neumann Award from Professor McPhee, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, at a function at University House, University of Melbourne, on 13 August 2004.

Tony with Peter Taylor, Dorothea Neumann and Mrs Guttmann at the event.

Professor Tony Guttmann is a very worthy winner for contributions to mathematics enrichment outside the Trust. Tony is a very rare individual. He is an elite research mathematician who has also led by example with widescale interaction with students, not just the students at his University, but also with the community around him.

As a research mathematician, he has reached the top. After an undergraduate career at this University re received a PhD from the University of New South Wales in 1969. He received a Senior Fulbright Fellowship in 1978. He was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Newcastle from 1984 and at this University from 1988. He won the Academy’s Hannan Medal in 1999. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Science in 2002.

He now directs an ARC Centre for Excellence, the Centre for the Mathematics and Statistics of Complex Systems based at this University.

He has served his profession well. He is President of the Australian Mathematical Society and has been since 2002. He was one of the leading figures in the establishment of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and was Interim Director in 2002.

Tony has written over 200 refereed papers and is a member of Editorial Board and Referee for numerous journals.

The real reason for winning this award, however, is for Tony’s work with students. He is renowned for the influence he has had on his own students, both postgraduate and undergraduate. However Tony has also shown an interest in school education. He is a member of the VCE mathematics reference group for the State of Victoria.

Above all, though he has been active in providing Challenge for students throughout the state. Since the departure of Derek Holton, Allen Russell and John Rickard several years ago from this University, Tony has been the Organiser of the University of Melbourne Schools Mathematics Competition. This is the largest of all the state-based competitions, attracting several thousand entries annually, and is highly regarded as one of the principal identifiers of talent in this state. Needless to say, this is a very demanding task, coordinating a number of volunteers, composing the problems, marking the solutions and over-seeing various other logistical tasks.

But it typifies Tony’s commitment to his profession, putting in very much of his own time and effort, way beyond his call of duty.

Peter Taylor
Friday 13 August 2004

Jamie receives his Award from Professor Praeger.

Jamie with family from left Tom, Judy and Genevieve.

Associate Professor Jamie Simpson, of Curtin University of Technology, Perth, received a BH Neumann Award from Board Member Professor Cheryl Praeger at a function at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Perth on Friday 11 June 2004.

Jamie Simpson holds a PhD from the University of Adelaide. He has been on the staff of Curtin University since 1989. Senior Lecturer since 1992, Associate Professor since 2001.

He has a positive attitude to his teaching of mathematics and particularly addresses the negatives of mathematics phobia and negative feelings engendered at school if students have seen mathematics just taught as formulae, and everything being either right or wrong.

His background helps him teach students of wide interests. His first degree was in physics and included some geology, which he followed up with vacation work at the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra. His first job was as a computer programmer in the days of punch cards and his research impacts on Computer Science. He has also been a teacher and taught in Papua New Guinea with an Anglican Mission.

He enters Curtin students in two University competitions, the Sydney University Mathematics Society (SUMS) competition and the Blakers Competition run by UWA.

He has been nominated by the Student Guild at Curtin for a Curtin Excellence in Teaching Award.

The reason why Jamie came most under notice for the BH Neumann Award is his work with gifted secondary school students, particularly having organized the International Mathematics Tournament of Towns in Perth. This requires choosing the team members, running several (usually 6) Saturday afternoon training sessions during the year and supervising and marking the exams. Students are given a certificate for participating by the Australian Mathematics Trust and those who do very well are given a Diploma by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He is involved in helping gifted students in various other ways. He is Associate Director of the WA Olympiad and chair of its Problems Committee and helps run the WA Olympiads. There are various special courses run in the state for gifted students. He helped set up the Curtin University School of Mathematics and Statistics enrichment program and taught classes in its first year. Jamie also gives lectures in the UWA-run WA Academy for Young Mathematicians. He is a member of the Senior Problems Committee for the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee, which involves composing and assessing problems to be used in elite competitions. He has twice been a mentor (or personal coach) for two students in Australia’s Mathematical Olympiad team for the International Mathematical Olympiad. One of these students, Akshay Venkatesh, won a bronze medal and the other, Christopher Barber, gained an honourable mention.

Jamie has a great interest in mathematics educations generally and has served on the Curriculum Council’s Mathematics Syllabus Committee.

Jamie has many research papers in areas such as number theory and discrete mathematics. One of the more interesting applications to come out of this has been work designing draws for the Western Australian Football League.

Peter Taylor
Friday 11 June 2004