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The Royal Society of New South Wales

The Society is the oldest learned society in the Southern Hemisphere, tracing its origin to the Philosophical Society of Australasia, founded in Sydney in 1821.

Our purpose is to advance knowledge through "... the encouragement of studies and investigations in Science Art Literature and Philosophy".

Membership of the Royal Society of New South Wales is open to anyone interested in Science, Art, Literature or Philosophy and their relationships. For more information, go to About us, visit our Membership Page or download our Brochure.


Forthcoming events

Wednesday 4 March 2015

1230th Ordinary General Meeting

"Super-resolution microscopy: Understanding how T cells make decisions"

Speaker: Scientia Professor Katharina Gaus
ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging
NHMRC Program in Membrane Interface Biology
University of New South Wales

Professor Gaus is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1999 and has led her research group since 2005. More recently, she has established and leads the EMBL Australia Node in Single Molecule Science at UNSW. Her group investigates signal transduction processes of T lymphocytes with advanced fluorescence microscopy approaches. She was awarded the Young Investigator Award from the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (2010), the Gottschalk Medal from the Australian Academy of Science (2012) and the New South Wales Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Biological Sciences (2013).

Professor Gaus' research focuses on developing new super-resolution fluorescence microscopes and analysis routines to map the decision-making processes of T lymphocytes in peptide-mediated immunity. T lymphocytes (or T cells) are part of the adaptive immune response and sense and respond to minute amounts of pathogenic peptides (peptides bound to Major Histocompatibility Complex or pMHC). The binding of T cell receptors (TCRs) to pMHCs initiates T cell activation and secretes cytokines and leads to the killing of infected target cells.

The decision of a T cell to activate or not activate is determined by an intracellular signalling network. In this decision-making network, information is not simply encoded into the expression of components, but in the frequency and duration of their interactions. This makes T cell signalling a fundamental ‘single molecule problem'.

Professor Gaus' laboratory provides a unique ‘bottom up' perspective of the T cell signalling networks. Her team has established single molecule imaging to analyse the distribution of T cell signalling proteins in intact and live cells on the molecular scale. In her talk, Professor Gaus will present some of the data to illustrate how recording the behaviour of a single molecule within the networks gives us clues as to how the decision-making network functions as a whole. She believes that such information not only allows us to understand a complex cellular network but also provides new avenues for drug design to combat autoimmune diseases and agents for cancer immunotherapy.

Venue: Union Universities & Schools Club,
25 Bent St (cnr Bent and Phillip Streets),

Please note dress code: jacket and tie.

Time: 6:30pm. Enjoy a welcome drink from 6:00pm. (Book for dinner after the meeting: $75 per head.)

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Joint Meeting with the Australian Institute of Physics

"Quantum emitters in wide band gap semiconductors"

Speaker: Associate Professor Igor Aharonovich

School of Physics and Advanced Materials, University of Technology, Sydney

Quantum emitters (or single photon sources) are important building blocks for many applications in nanophotonics, quantum information processing, and quantum cryptography. Wide bandgap semiconductors are particularly interesting in this respect due their ability to host bright emitters in the whole spectral range – from ultraviolet to the infra-red. In the first part of my talk, I will discuss an easy approach to engineer narrowband single emitters in diamond that can emit more than million counts per second at room temperature. I will also describe avenues to engineer optical resonators (e.g. photonic crystal cavities) from diamond. Cavity resonances as high as ~ 10,000 at the visible spectral range are measured from these devices – offering promising platform for light-matter interaction studies. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss an emerging platform for nanophotonics – namely silicon carbide. While silicon carbide is primarily employed for modern optoelectronic devices, it has a high potential for application in quantum technologies and nanophotonics application. I will show our results on engineering and characterization of previously unknown form of silicon carbide – the nanotetrapod. These nanostructures emit non classical light even at room temperature. I will also highlight prospects in engineering single emitters in single crystal silicon carbide. I will summarize by reviewing some of the challenges and highlight promising directions in the field of quantum emitters and nanophotonics with band gap semiconductors.

Igor AharonovichAssociate Professor Aharonovich received his BSc (2005) and MSc (2007) in Materials Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. He then moved to Australia and pursued his PhD studies at the University of Melbourne on the topic of single emitters in diamond. In 2011, he took a postdoctoral position at Harvard University with the group of Prof Evelyn Hu. His research was focused on nanofabrication of optical cavities out of diamond, silicon carbide and gallium nitride. In 2013 Professor Aharonovich joined the School of Physics and Advanced Materials at UTS as a Senior Lecturer and an ARC DECRA fellow and was promoted to Associated Professor in 2015.

Venue: Trinity Grammar School Professional Development Centre, 5 Thomas Street Lewisham

Time: 6:00 for 6:30 pm - Refreshments from 6:00 pm

 The full 2015 programme will be posted here early in 2015. 

Recent events

Monday16 February 2015

The Four Societies Lecture

"Latest developments in Small Modular Reactors"

Held in conjunction with the Nuclear Engineering Panel of the Sydney Branch of Engineers Australia, the Australian Nuclear Association and the Australian Institute of Energy

Dr Adi Paterson - Chief Executive Officer, ANSTO

The largest source of energy today is fossil fuel which we know has significant CO2 issues. The second largest source is nuclear, using uranium. Dr Paterson began his talk by showing that the country generating the most energy per capita is France with its successful harnessing of nuclear technology, but interestingly Brazil is also successful with its use of ethanol from sugar cane. Australia was shown to be in the worst sector with almost the highest cost per capita of electric power generation, more than twice as expensive as France and similar to the high cost in Denmark which relies heavily on wind energy.

Dr Paterson is a world authority on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). In his talk he stated that this new type of nuclear reactor is given too little prominence against the backdrop of the very large power reactors, such as China's new 1750 MWe power plant in Taishan, which have captured our attention until now.

Dr Paterson touched on Australia's recent shifts politically in which the nuclear component of an optimal energy mix is growing in acceptance, as seen from the recent announcement of a Royal Commission in South Australia, in view also of its rich resources of uranium. The lecture showed how SMRs are ready to fill the vacuum in countries like Australia.

Once again, the Four Societies Lecture was an outstanding success with a full house attending. The Society thanks the Australian Institute of Energy for organising this year's event and Clayton Utz for supporting it.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

1229th Ordinary General Meeting and Scholarship presentations

The Society funds the Royal Society of New South Wales Scholarships in order to acknowledge and support outstanding achievements by early-career individuals working towards a higher research degree in a science related field. The scholarship winners were presented with their awards and gave presentations on their work:

Melanie Laird (University of Sydney, School of Biological Sciences)

Melanie is a University Medallist in her second year of a PhD under the supervision of Professor Michael Thompson, studying reproduction in marsupials.

Ruth Wells (University of Sydney, School of Psychology)

Ruth is enrolled in a doctorate of clinical psychology and Master of Science programme. With an exceptional display of initiative, Ruth built relationships with psychologists, psychiatrists, academics and health workers in Jordan over the internet; crowd funded her travel costs, and then completed the research project in Jordan where she explored barriers to mental health care for Syrian refugees living in Jordan.

Stephen Parker (UNSW, School of Chemistry)

Stephen Parker is in his final year of a PhD in the Nanomaterials group in the School of Chemistry at UNSW where he is making surfaces that can capture cells from a blood sample and then release a single targeted cell that has a particular characteristic.



Tuesday 9 December 2014 - The Dirac Lecture

"The beauty and serendipity of blue-sky research"

Professor Serge Haroche, Nobel Laureate (2012)

Head of the Collège de France, Paris

Professor Serge Haroche was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics (jointly with David J. Wineland) for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems", for their work on understanding the photon.

The Dirac Lecture is presented by the University of NSW, in conjunction with the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Institute of Physics.


Venue:Tyree Room,
John Niland Scientia Building,
University of NSW

Wednesday 3 December 2014

1228th Ordinary General Meeting, Jak Kelly Award and Christmas Party

The Society held its annual Jak Kelly Award presentation at the Union, University and Schools Club. The late Professor Kelly's widow, Mrs Irene Kelly, presented the Jak Kelly Award to Ms Linh Tran who presented a short outline of her work.

Linh Tran

Linh Tran is a third-year PhD student at Centre for Medical Radiation Physics (CMRP), University of Wollongong. Her supervisor, Professor Anatoly Rozenfeld, is a founder of the concept of silicon microdosimetry and has guided Linh in-depth into the project. Linh's research field involves the development of innovative semiconductor detectors for dosimetry and microdosimetry in radiation protection and radiation therapy applications and their radiation hardness. Linh was a major contributor in the development and study of large area alpha particle silicon cleanable detectors for in-field measurement of soil radioactive contamination and new generation of 3D silicon microdosimeters mimicking human biological cells and used for measuring dose equivalent in mixed radiation fields relevant to the space radiation environment as well as in heavy ion therapy.

Linh has authored six papers as a first author and presenting them at IEEE NSS MIC, RADECS and NSREC. Linh received a Master Degree in Physics in 2008 from Dubna University in Russia. She then began her professional career at the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute and worked as a researcher in radiation protection for three years before coming to Australia as a PhD student. Linh was awarded a full scholarship for her studies in Russia and in Australia. She is now very much enjoying her research with the CMRP team at the University of Wollongong and hopes that innovative radiation measurement devices will be available soon for the improvement of our quality of life.

The presentation was followed by the Society's Christmas Party. 

Thursday 20 November 2014

The Liversidge Research Lecture 2014

"Recent Studies on the Total Synthesis of Natural Products and Related Systems"

Professor Martin Banwell

Research School of Chemistry, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University, Canberra

The Liversidge Research Lecture 2014 was delivered by Professor Martin Banwell at the University of Sydney on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Professor Banwell is an organic chemist and is one of Australia's most accomplished researchers into the synthesis of complex organic compounds. In this year's Liversidge Research Lecture, he described work that has been done in his group over a number of years to synthesise materials that have wide-ranging applications, especially as pharmaceuticals.

The starting point for his work is a family organic chemicals called arenes. These are substances based on a structure of six carbon atoms arranged in a ring, with each carbon atom having a hydrogen atom attached (read more...)

Wednesday 5 November 2014

1227th Ordinary General Meeting

"A drop of Optics"

Dr Steve Lee and Dr Tri Phan, joint winners of the 2014 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology

The talk at the 1227th AGM was presented by Dr Steve Lee and Dr Tri Phan, joint winners of the 2014 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology. They received the award for developing a very inexpensive polymer lens with extraordinarily high resolution that can be used on cameras like those found on mobile telephones.

In recent years, miniaturisation has revolutionised sensors: small image sensors means that the optical device can also be miniaturised and it is much easier to get good optical qualities in a small lens than a large one. The early miniaturised lenses were ground from small pieces of glass and were quite expensive to manufacture. (read more...)

Seal of the RSNSW


Awards for 2014 announced

The Council is pleased to announce the winners of several of the Society's awards for 2014. They are:

(read more...)

Vice-Regal patronage

The Council is proud to announce that His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales, has granted Vice-Regal patronage to the Society.

Jak Kelly Award

Irene Kelly presented the Jak Kelly Award to Linh Tran at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 3 Dec 2014.


Liversidge Research Lecture 2014

Professor Martin Banwell delivered the Liversidge Research Lecture 2014 at Sydney University on Thursday 20 November 2014 (read more...)

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