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Significant contribution in Botany
Distinguished contributions by a young scientist under the age of 35 years at 1 January 2014
Outstanding contributions to science and human welfare
Research of national or international significance by engineers and technologists in their professional practice evidenced by a paper in the Journal of the RSNSW.
Outstanding achievement in the History and Philosophy of Science
Outstanding achievements by early-career individuals working in a science related field who are enrolled for a research degree on 1 July 2014.
Phillip Island is near Norfolk Island, halfway between Sydney and Fiji. Before feral animals were released on Phillip Island, the island retained its natural sub-tropical vegetation and native fauna. The first disastrous action was release of pigs on the island in 1793. The early settlers also introduced goats and rabbits to Phillip Island by 1830. By around 1860 the island had almost no vegetation apart from a few remnant trees. The pigs and goats appear to have died out when inadequate food remained to support them but the rabbits survived, preventing the growth of vegetation and allowing unrestricted erosion to continue. Rabbit eradication efforts between 1979 and 1986 succeeded, allowing the environment to rebound spectacularly. Although only about 200 hectares the island is extremely rugged with cliffs 200 metres high, necessitating unusual methods to reach inaccessible areas - swimming, rock climbing, even archery. The talk will describe the island's history and natural history, explaining how geological and geomorphological events helped shape the ecosystem. With a diversity of breeding seabirds and some of the world's rarest plants, Phillip Island is a real natural treasure. Some independent scientists described this as possibly Australia's most spectacular environmental rehabilitation project.
Dr Peter Coyne commenced his career in nature conservation in 1973 when the field was just developing. With central involvement in more front-page news items than could be considered comfortable for a prudent public servant, he had a challenging and rewarding career. A highlight was the period when Peter and his family lived on Norfolk Island while Peter inaugurated the office of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. His major tasks there were working towards establishing the Norfolk Island National Park and undertaking the first steps towards ridding the shockingly bare Phillip Island of rabbits. That work included setting up experimental exclosures to demonstrate the effect of eliminating rabbits, and then extraordinary techniques when commencing the extermination efforts. Requiring immense effort, the eradication brought significant rewards including the discovery of a plant species previously thought to be extinct and another plant new to science, and establishing habitat for new nesting colonies of an array of seabirds.
Dr Peter Coyne commenced his career in nature conservation in 1973 when the field was just developing. With central involvement in more front-page news items than could be considered comfortable for a prudent public servant, he had a challenging and rewarding career.
A highlight was the period when Peter and his family lived on Norfolk Island while Peter inaugurated the office of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. His major tasks there were working towards establishing the Norfolk Island National Park and undertaking the first steps towards ridding the shockingly bare Phillip Island of rabbits. That work included setting up experimental exclosures to demonstrate the effect of eliminating rabbits, and then extraordinary techniques when commencing the extermination efforts. Requiring immense effort, the eradication brought significant rewards including the discovery of a plant species previously thought to be extinct and another plant new to science, and establishing habitat for new nesting colonies of an array of seabirds.
1225th Ordinary General Meeting
"The Fourth Dimension and Beyond: the Paradox of Working in Unimaginable Worlds
Scientia Professor Ian Sloan AO FRSN
People are fascinated by the idea of the fourth dimension - the speaker will illustrate by the movie "Cube 2 - Hypercube”, and other examples from popular culture. That movie is about four dimensions, but can any of us imagine a 10-dimensional hypercube? Yet as a research mathematician I develop, and validate, practical computational schemes for problems that live on hypercubes in maybe hundreds of dimensions. (Where do such problems come from? From the finance industry, from environmental problems of groundwater flows, and many other places.) How is it possible to work in such unimaginable worlds? This non-technical lecture will explore the paradox. The answer lies, of course, in the power of mathematics, to boldly go where imagination fails.
Professor Ian Sloan completed physics and mathematics undergraduate degrees at Melbourne University, an MSc in mathematical physics at Adelaide, and a PhD in theoretical atomic physics at the University of London. He was appointed to a Personal Chair in Mathematics the University of New South Wales in 1983, andScientia Professor in 1999. He has held visiting appointments in the USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, but still has UNSW as his academic home.
At no time in human history has the demand for a highly educated highly skilled workforce been so necessary. In particular, the workforce of tomorrow needs to be educated in science and mathematics beyond high school level. Yet there has been a continuing decline in science education since the 1990s so that in 2010, only half of our school children were studying science beyond the first four years of secondary education. The Australian Academy of Science is heavily involved in the introduction of innovative science learning programs for all levels of education, from primary to early secondary, and now to upper secondary, and there is a positive attitude in the community towards science. It has to be said that Australia is now at a cross roads in terms of its scientific and technological literacy.
A concerted effort by all educators at all levels, the community and business to promote science education and science as a valuable and satisfying profession is required if Australia is to maintain its current position in the world.
Professor Eugenie Lumbers is an internationally respected authority on foetal and maternal physiology. For many years she has worked in cardiovascular and renal physiology, with particular reference to blood pressure regulation in the renin-angiotensin system. She graduated MB BS in Adelaide in 1965 and received an MD in 1970. She was awarded a DSc at the University of NSW in 1986 where she was given a personal chair in 1988. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society.
Professor Graham Stewart AM, director of clinical immunology at Westmead Hospital has researched the genetic influences on disease, in particular on multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is the commonest chronic neurological disorder of young at all. It usually starts with a relapsing/remitting phase (with symptoms occur and then go into remission at for extended periods), usually with onset at about the age of 30. The disease can be relatively benign with periods of disability, it can present as a relapsing/remitting disease with gradual increase in disability, or in about 10-20% of patients it can present as being "primary progressive”, where disability progressively increases over time.
MS is caused by the body's immune system malfunctioning – macrophages devour the myelin sheath around nerve cells, exposing the nerve axon and thereby disrupting the flow of information along the nerve cell. The body is able to repair the damage by re-myelinating the nerve cells after this initial attack however if the myelin is attacked the second time in the same place, the body is unable to repair the sheath and relapse occurs. Hence the symptoms of the disease progress. (Read more...)
In 2008, the world suffered "the equivalent of cardiac Arrest”, according to the Financial Times. It became virtually impossible for any institution to finance itself, (that is, borrow in the markets) longer than overnight. With the collapse of Lehman Bros, interbank credit markets froze and counterparty risk was considered to be too great for prospective lenders to take on the transactions. The London interbank overnight lending rate, typically in the range of 0.2% to 0.8% spiked to over 3%. This situation raises two questions: what caused this global financial crisis (GFC)? and how can we attempt to avoid similar crises in the future? The origins of the crisis go back more than 30 years.
Starting in 1977, there were substantial changes made to US investment legislation. Early in this period, the aim was to make finance more readily available to low-income borrowers, to progressively eliminate using the controls on mortgage rates and to remove discrimination in the US housing market. (Read more...)
At the 1220th ordinary general meeting of the Society, Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson described the development of the Jameson cell, one of the most important technological contributions to the Australian economy in the last 50 years.
The Jameson cell is a flotation cell used in minerals processing. First two stages of extracting minerals are the mine itself from which the ore is recovered and the concentrator, where the valuable mineral is extracted from the rest. Typically the valuable components are no more than 2% of ore recovered, so there is a massive challenge in isolating this from the ore for further processing. An important technology developed to achieve this concentration step was the flotation cell, a process first developed early in the 20th century. (Read more...)
Hugh Durrant-Whyte is an internationally-recognised expert on the analysis of "big data” – the mass of information that is being generated around current information and communication technologies. Much of this is "metadata” – data that is captured as part of some activity (for example, when a digital photograph is taken also recording camera settings, capture date etc or the data kept by telecommunication companies every time a mobile phone call is made).
2.5×1018 bytes of data are generated every day – there is immense value in mining this data but this requires sophisticated analytical techniques. "Data analytics” is the term coined for technologies to analyse this data in areas as varied as the finance industry, the health industry, planning infrastructure, failure analysis in mechanical and electronic equipment and environmental analysis, to name but a few examples. (Read more...)
At the annual Four Societies Lecture, Professor Mary O'Kane considered the major questions that face NSW in the future of energy production and utilisation. Asking the right questions is key – it reduces the time taken to identify the best solutions.
Australia is the ninth largest energy producer in the world and one of only four net energy exporters. We have 38% of the world's uranium, 9% of the world's coal and 2% of the world's gas. In terms of consumption, agriculture takes 3%, mining 13.5%, manufacturing and construction 25%, transportation 38% and residential about 11%. The 2014 Commonwealth Energy White Paper is seeking to address a number of questions regarding Australia's energy future. (Read more...)
At the first joint meeting of the Society and the Australian Academy of Forensics Sciences, Professor Robyn Sloggitt explain the approach taken by forensics scientists in investigating prosecuting cultural heritage offences. The difficulty that faces authorities is determining whether or not cultural records are true and verifiable. Forensic examination used in these situations follows the Locard principle (named after Edmond Locard the pioneering French forensics scientist) that "every contact leaves a trace”.
In order to determine the provenance of works of art, the forensics it seeks to establish how the object was made, what it is made of, when it was made and where it was made. (Read more...)
The Society presented testamurs to eleven new Fellows at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 2 July 2014. (more...)
The Society's Annual Dinner was held at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 7 May 2014. Eleven fellowships were presented and prizes and medals were formally presented to the 2013 Award winners. (more...)
|Walter Burfitt Prize||Professor Michelle Simmons, UNSW|
|James Cook Medal||Professor Brien Holden, UNSW|
|Edgeworth David Medal||Associate Professor David Wilson, UNSW|
|Clarke Medal||Professor William Griffin, Macquarie University|
The Society's Distinguished Fellows lecture was presented by Prof Barry Jones AO Dist FRSN. (more...)
Prof Peter Doherty AC Dist FRSN was invested by the Governor at Government House on Wed 16 April 2014 (more...)
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