Changing of the guard at the Society's Hunter Branch

Professor George WillisProfessor George Willis FRSN FAA, an ARC Laureate Fellow at the University of Newcastle, has joined the Council of the Royal Society of NSW as the representative of the Hunter Branch.  This follows the decision by Emerita Professor Eugenie Lumbers AM FRSN FAA to step down from the Council, although continuing on as Secretary of the Hunter Branch.

Professor Willis, who is Treasurer of the Hunter Branch, was born in 1954 in Adelaide and lived there for the next 23 years. Growing up, he enjoyed bushwalking, fishing, science, reading and learning, and he was inspired by the Apollo program. His studies led to a BSc (Hons) from the University of Adelaide, received in 1977, and then to research in mathematics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, for which he was awarded a PhD in 1981. Following postdoctoral positions at universities in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, he moved to Newcastle, Australia, in 1992 to be a lecturer in mathematics. He married Catherine in 1979 and they have one daughter.

George finds it enormously satisfying that — by using logic and imagination in powerful, and often beautiful and unexpected ways — mathematics extends our brains’ natural capabilities to new domains. His work uses algebraic methods in combination with precise formulations of intuition about space, symmetry, randomness, approximation and continuity. He has discovered fundamental structure in, and produced new insights about, (potentially) infinite networks, of which family trees and data structures are examples.

Currently an ARC Laureate Fellow, George is extending his exploration of network symmetry with a team of students and postdoctoral fellows. He continues to enjoy learning and now, in addition to learning from his own experience, he sees the world through the eyes of his grandsons as well.

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