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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1263rd OGM and Open Lecture

BenOldroyd.crp   “No sex please, we’re Cape bees”

   Professor Ben Oldroyd
   School of Life and Environmental Sciences 
   University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday 6 June, 6 for 6.30pm
Venue: Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW (enter by Shakespeare Place)
Entry: $20 for non-members, $10 for Members and Associate Members of the Society, including a welcome drink. Dress code: business
Dinner (including drinks): $80 for Members and Associate Members, $90 for non-members. Reservations must be made at least 2 days before.
Reservations:  here
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone 9431 8691
All are welcome

Ant and bee colonies have often served as allegorical models for ideal human societies. This view is nicely illustrated by Shakespeare’s King Henry V, in which a bee colony is depicted as a benevolent dictatorship with the workers carrying out coordinated tasks and living in harmonious obedience to a caring monarch, much like Elizabethan England should have been.
Professor Ben Oldroyd has spent a career trying to prove that this idea is wrong. In particular, Ben bred a line of ‘anarchistic’ honey bees, in which the workers laid eggs all the time. Such worker misbehaviour has devastating colony-level effects, because the worker-laid eggs develop into useless male drones. Ben’s work uncovered the gene network that regulates worker sterility in normal bees, showing that in normal workers with a queen and her pheromone, egg development is aborted by programmed cell death in the ovaries of workers. This solved a 50-year-old puzzle as to how a gene that causes sterility could operate. Think about it: if a gene makes you sterile, how could it spread?

But that’s not what this lecture will be about. Rather, Ben will be talking about a remarkable honey bee subspecies from South Africa, Apis mellifera capensis. Capensis is unique because when an unmated Capensis worker lays an egg it develops not as a male, but as a female – a clone of the worker. This gives a Capensis worker the opportunity to be reincarnated as a queen, much like a pawn in chess. And this completely disrupts their societies because Capensis workers are always plotting revolutions. Ben’s got it all figured out and will tell the tale. You can look forward to hearing about the march of the clones across the commercial industry, triploid queens, gassed virgins, fusion nuclei, social parasitism, social cancers and more besides.

Ben Oldroyd is Professor of Behavioural Genetics at the University of Sydney. He completed a BSc(Agr) at Sydney in 1980 and a PhD on bee breeding in 1984. Ben’s research focuses on the genetics of honey bees, the evolution of social behavior and evolution more broadly. In 2001 Ben was awarded a Doctor of Science for his contributions to the understanding of the evolution of honey bee societies, and he is past-President of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. Ben is heavily involved with the Australian beekeeping industry, including helping beekeepers breed better, healthier strains. In recognition of this, Ben was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering award in Biology in 2014. Ben has made important contributions to our understanding of the biology of Asian honey bees. His book Asian Honey Bees: Biology, Conservation and Human Interactions (Harvard University Press) is the authoritative text on the subject. Ben has authored nearly 300 scientific papers on honey bees and stingless bees.

Great Australians you’ve never heard of

Keneally small
   Lecture 1

   “A Tasmanian convict who went from
     an Irish rebel to become Governor”

   given by Thomas Keneally AO DistFRSN

Date and time: Friday 22 June, 6pm for 6.30-7.30
Venue: Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 Fellows/Members, $20 friends per lecture
Light refreshments will be served
Bookings are essential
Registration: https://smsa.org.au/events/booking-form-great-australians-series/
Enquiries: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, phone (02) 9262 7300
All are welcome

The Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts — the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education — are proud to present a collaborative lecture program, Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of.

Following the success of the Enlightenment series, ‘Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of' follows the underpinning Enlightenment idea that “the freedom to use your own intelligence” enabled remarkable people to create the extraordinary society we live in. Yet few of those special people are recognized today, nor is the context of their contributions understood by the beneficiaries of their initiatives. Over the course of four lectures, this series sets about identifying some of those people.

Other lectures in the series (more details to follow):

23 July 2018 — Peter Baume DistFRSN
6 September 2018 — Emeritus Professor D. Brynn Hibbert FRSN
12 November 2018 — Alison Bashford FRSN

Combined AIP and RSNSW event

Richard Garrett  “BIG Science - exploring the future of the world’s
  most exciting STEM challenges and developments”

  Professor Richard Garrett
  Manager, Industry and External Engagement
  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
  Organisation

Date: Tuesday 26 June 2018
Venue: ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Road Lucas Heights
Cost:  free
Bookings essential, at bigsciencecombinedmeeting.eventbrite.com.au
RSVP required by 22 June 2018
Enquiries: Dr Frederick Osman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Program:

5 to 6pm: Optional tour of the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering

6 to 6.30pm: Refreshments

6.30 to 7.30pm:Ppresentation by Professor Garrett

8pm: Optional dinner at RockSalt, 1/72-80 Allison Crescent, Menai ($50 pp.)

 

Presented by the Australian Institute of Physics, NSW Branch, the Royal Society of NSW, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

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