The Royal Society of New South Wales publishes in a range of formats—traditional and electronic. The traditional formats include the Journal and Proceedings, which is available in printed and electronic forms (held on this website and through the Smithsonian Biodiversity Library), The Bulletin, which is an electronic magazine/newsletter, made available to members (also held on this website), and books which are published occasionally under the Society's name.

Additionally, there are reports and content (held on this website and in other repositories) that arise from events such as the Annual Forum of the Royal Society and the Learned Academies, and also the open lectures held at Ordinary General Meetings. Video content, including presentations from the Forums, recordings of lectures (from Ordinary General Meetings and Branch Meetings), and special events (such as Ideas@theHouse), is held on the Society’s YouTube channel, launched in March 2020. 

Each of these publications/formats, accessible from the publishing menu and from links on this page, is expanded upon below.

Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of NSW

The Society’s journal is one of the oldest peer-reviewed publications in the Southern Hemisphere. Much innovative research of the 19th and early 20th centuries (e.g., Lawrence Hargrave's work on flight) was first brought to the attention of the scientific world through the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales.  Over the past few decades, while specialist journals have become preferred for highly technical work the Journal and Proceedings remains an important publication for multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary work.  The Journal Archive provides links to the contents of Journal issues from 1856 onwards.

The Journal and Proceedings are exchanged with many institutions worldwide.  Currently, issues are published around June and December each year, although only a single December issue appeared in 2016.

The Society welcomes authors to publish their research or reviews in the Journal and Proceedings.  Abstracts of doctoral theses are also considered by the editorial board and are welcome. 


The Bulletin page provides access to issues of the RSNSW Bulletin dating back to August 2007. The Bulletin is the Society’s magazine/newsletter, published monthly from February to December of each year. Its content typically includes an editorial from the Society President, items of news, a diary of forthcoming events and special lectures conducted by the Society and its branches, reports of recent events and lectures, a summary of the contents of the current Journal and Proceedings (when released), and information about new Fellows and Members.


The Books page provides access to information about books that have been published under the Society’s name.


 The Forums page provides access to the abstracts, content, and reports from the annual Forum that is conducted jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Learned Academies at Government House, Sydney.  Video recordings of the content, available from the Society's YouTube Channel, are referenced from this page.


The Presentations page provides access to content presented at meetings of the Royal Society of NSW, where permission to do so has been granted by the author. Such content includes:

  • Video presentations (with links to the Society’s YouTube Channel)
  • Slides (in pdf format), presented at Society meetings, where these are of broad, general interest
  • Audio recordings.


Awards imageThe Royal Society of New South Wales has long recognised distinguished achievements in various fields of knowledge through its Awards. Some are amongst the oldest in Australia while others are more recent. From its Act of Incorporation in 1881, the Society’s mission has been to encourage “studies and investigations in Science, Art, Literature and Philosophy”. In 2023, the Society determined to broaden and streamline its Awards portfolio to recognise recent and evolving fields and disciplines, and emerging as well as established stars. 

From 2023, the Society Awards are made in two main classes reflecting the Society’s history: Career Excellence Medals and Discipline Awards and Medals; with additional Awards, Scholarships, and Citations, including Internal Awards for distinguished service to the Society and community. External nominations are most welcome for all but the Internal and Discretionary Awards which require both the nominator and seconder to be Members or fellows of the Society. Conditions and nomination forms are listed at each Award’s individual webpage, together with some guidance notes.

Nominations for all available Awards open on 1 July each year and close on 30 September. Awardees are announced by the end of that calendar year with formal presentations of their Awards in the following year. All nominations require a nominator and a seconder. All RSNSW awards are assessed relative to opportunity.

Information about historical Awards and their winners prior to 2023 is available from the preceding link.

RSNSW Awards from 2023

The new program comprises four categories of awards, with individual awards within each category itemised as follows.  Follow the links to information pages and relevant nomination forms for each individual award. Please note that the nomination forms will be available on these pages before 30 June 2023.

Career Excellence Medals

RSNSW Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Scholars Medal
RSNSW James Cook Medal — for lifetime career contributions
RSNSW Edgeworth David Medal — for mid-career researchers
RSNSW Ida Browne Early Career Medal

Discipline Awards and Lectureships

These Awards are made on a three-yearly cycle, Years A, B and C, as indicated in the listing of the Awards, with Year A Awards commencing in 2023, Year B in 2024, and Year C in 2025.

The discipline awards by year of offer are as follows.

Year A (offered in 2023, 2026, 2029, ...)

RSNSW Clarke Medal and Lectureship in the Earth Sciences
RSNSW Walter Burfitt Award in Medical and Veterinary Sciences and Technologies
RSNSW Award in the Social and Behavioural Sciences
RSNSW Award in the History and Philosophy of Science

Year B (offered in 2024, 2027, 2030, ...)

RSNSW Pollock Award and Lectureship in the Physical Sciences and Mathematics
RSNSW Poggendorff Award and Lectureship in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
RSNSW Award in the Humanities, Philosophy, and Law
RSNSW Interdisciplinary Award

Year C (offered in 2025, 2028, 2031, ...)

RSNSW Liversidge Award and Lectureship in the Chemical Sciences
RSNSW Warren Award in Engineering, Technology, Architecture, and Design
RSNSW Award in the Creative and Performing Arts
RSNSW Award in the Life Sciences

Scholarships, Early Career, and Student Awards

RSNSW Bicentennial Postgraduate Scholarships (3)
RSNSW Bicentennial Early Career Research and Service Citation (3)
RSNSW Jak Kelly Postgraduate Award

Internal and Discretionary Awards

RSNSW President's Award
RSNSW Citations (3)
RSNSW Archibald Ollé Award

History of the Society

The Royal Society of New South Wales, Australia traces its origins to the Philosophical Society of Australasia, established on 27 June 1821, which was the first scientific society in the then British colony of New South Wales.

The Society was formed by Dr James Bowman, Dr Henry Douglass, both medical practitioners, Judge Barron Field, a justice of the Supreme Court, Major Frederick Goulburn, the Colonial Secretary, Captain Francis Irvine, an Army officer and farmer, and Edward Wollstonecraft, a merchant, “with a view to enquiring into the various branches of physical science of this vast continent and its adjacent regions”. On his arrival in Sydney late in 1821 the newly-appointed Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, was offered and accepted the position of President.

Following a period of informal activity, with the encouragement of Dr Douglass, the Society was revitalised and renamed the Australian Philosophical Society on 19 January 1850.  In 1855, the year of the establishment of the Parliament of NSW, the Society was renamed The Philosophical Society of New South Wales.  On 12 December 1866, Queen Victoria granted Royal Assent to the Society and it was renamed again as The Royal Society of New South Wales.  The Society was incorporated by an Act of the New South Wales Parliament in 1881.

Throughout its history, the Society has done much to foster local research, particularly in science, through meetings, symposia, publications and international scientific exchange, and has supported and fostered the endeavours of other organisations dedicated to the furtherance of knowledge.

For a more complete early history, see Tyler (2010) "Science for Gentlemen – The Royal Society of New South Wales in the Nineteenth Century".

about logoThe original seal of the Society was designed by Archibald Liversidge, who, at the time of incorporation (16 December 1881), was Honorary Secretary of the Society.  On 27 April 2011, the Council adopted the motto "omnia quaerite" (question everything).  A more detailed history of the seal, together with the meanings of the symbols, may be downloaded here.

Presidents of the Society

A list of all Presidents of the Society, previous and current is available from this link. 

Branches of the Royal Society of NSW

The Role of Branches

The Society has a remit for the whole of the state of New South Wales. In order to achieve this it has established Branches in several major regional centres of the state over the years. Branches of the Society provide local opportunities for residents of the region to participate in events organised by the Branch. Each is run and managed by a local Committee of Fellows and Members of the Society. Branches can be established in any region where there are sufficient numbers of Members or Fellows willing to host regular meetings and its establishment is agreed upon by Council. Membership of a Branch does not involve any additional application fee or Membership subscription.

A long-standing, active branch at Mittagong/Bowral in the Southern Highlands was established in 1994, while new branches were established in the Hunter Region, based in Newcastle, in 2019, and in Western NSW in 2021. Regular meetings are held in each of these locations and are well attended by members and visitors alike. The Society ran a very successful New England Branch based in Armidale for many years until recently and has plans to revive it. A Central West Branch based in Orange has been active in the recent past.

Branches may frame Rules for the conduct of their own affairs within the framework of the Rules and By-laws of the Society. Any Branch Rules are subject to the approval of the Society’s Council. Branches are managed by a Branch Committee which consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and ordinary members of the Committee. One member of the Committee is selected by the Branch to be the Branch’s representative on the Society’s Council.

The Annual General Meetings of Branches are held each year in March (i.e., prior to the Society’s AGM in early April) at which a written report of the activities and finances of the Branch is presented and at which office-bearers are elected for the ensuing year. A copy of the written report is forwarded to the Society’s Council before 15 March each year.

Current Branches

The Society currently has active branches in the:


This page describes the Society’s governance and includes the following matters, accessible from the links below:

Governance Arrangements

The current governance arrangements date from the formal incorporation of the Royal Society of New South Wales by an Act of the New South Wales Parliament in 1881.  (For the period from 1821 to 1881, see History.)

The Society is governed by a Council that is elected annually. The Council manages all the Society’s business in accordance with its Act and Rules.

Under revised rules, most recently updated by electronic ballot of the members on 13 February 2023 in advance of the 2023 elections, the Council comprises the President, the Vice-President, the immediate Past President (if available, and only for the first year after leaving the role of President), the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Librarian, the Webmaster, the chairperson (or nominee) of each of the Hunter, Southern Highlands, and Western NSW branches, six elected Members or Fellows and two appointed members (See Rule 18 that described the transition arrangements in 2023–2024). All Council members must be Members or Fellows of the Society.  The Executive Committee comprises the President, the Vice-President, the immediate Past President (if available, for the first year after leaving the role of President), the Secretary, the Treasurer, and one Council member appointed by resolution of the Council.

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Council and Office-Bearers 2023–24

As of the close of the 2023 Annual General Meeting held on 5 April 2023, the current Council and office-bearers of the Society are:

Patron Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales
President Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN (until April 2025)
Vice-President Emeritus Professor Peter Shergold AC FRSN (until April 2025)
Secretary Dr Donald Hector AM FRSN (until April 2025)
Treasurer Mr Bhavin Raval MRSN (until April 2025)
Librarian Emeritus Professor Stephen Garton AM FRSN (until April 2025)
Webmaster Emeritus Professor Lindsay Botten FRSN (until April 2025)

Professor Katherine Belov AO FRSN (until April 2025)
Professor Sean Brawley FRSN (until April 2024)
Professor Philip Gale FRSN (until April 2024)
Ms Pamela Griffith OAM FRSN (until April 2024)
Dr Davina Jackson FRSN (until April 2025)
Emeritus Professor Robert Marks FRSN (until April 2024)
Emeritus Professor Christina Slade FRSN (until April 2025)
One member to be appointed by Council (TBA) (until April 2025)

Hunter Branch Representative
Southern Highlands Branch Representative
Western NSW Branch Representative
Professor Robert Whittaker AM FRSN (until April 2025)
Dr James Rowe FRSN (until April 2025)

Professor Mark Evans FRSN (until April 2024)

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Council Committees

The President chairs meetings of the Council and general meetings of the Society.

The Council appoints other committees from time to time to attend to specific matters. Committees may comprise both Council members and other Society members.

Information about the Society's Committees for 2023–2024 will become available in coming weeks.  Listed below are the Committees for 2022–2023.


The current Committees, together with the names of their Chairs and Secretaries, appointed at the May 2023 meeting of the Council, are listed below. The link associated with each Committee name refers to the information page for that Committee— providing an outline of the Committee’s role, its Terms of Reference, and its current composition.

Committee  Chair Secretary 
Executive Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN Dr Donald Hector AM FRSN
Awards Prof. Merlin Crossley FRSN  Emer. Prof. Annabelle Duncan PSM FRSN
Fellows and Members
Prof. Sean Brawley FRSN  Mr Trevor Danos AM FRSN
Library and Assets Emer. Prof. Stephen Garton AM FRSN   TBC
Philanthropy Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN TBC
Program Emer. Prof. Christina Slade FRSN   Dr Elizabeth Deane FRSN
Publishing Dr Davina Jackson FRSN Emer. Prof. Trevor Hambley FRSN
RSNSW & Learned
Academies Forum
Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN  Emer. Prof. Lindsay Botten FRSN

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Strategic Plan

The 2021-23 Strategic Plan of the Society, as approved by the Council on 4 February 2021, is now online.

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