Emeritus Professor Ian SloanThe Royal Society of New South Wales is delighted to announce the appointment of Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO DistFRSN FAA as a Distinguished Fellow of the Society. The honour of Distinguished Fellow is awarded to internationally-distinguished contributors to science, art, literature or philosophy, with the number of Distinguished Fellows being limited to 25 at any time.

Ian Sloan is a Melbourne-born mathematician and physicist. He was educated at the Universities of Melbourne and Adelaide and received a PhD in theoretical atomic physics from University College London. After a short period in industry, he joined the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney). Subsequently, he was appointed to a Personal Chair in Mathematics, served as Head of the School of Mathematics and Chair of the National Committee for Mathematics, and was appointed a Scientia Professor.

He began his research career in theoretical atomic and nuclear physics but later switched to computational mathematics, see “A fortunate scientific life” (pp. 19–26). In all, he has published more than 300 papers in theoretical physics and computational mathematics, with research recognised by the Lyle Medal of the Australian Academy of Science, the Szekeres Medal of the Australian Mathematical Society, the ANZIAM Medal, and the Information Based Complexity Prize. He is a Fellow of the Australian and American Mathematical Societies and the (US) Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

He has served as President of the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Australian Mathematical Society, and the Royal Society of New South Wales. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1983, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 2014, and in 2018 was appointed an Honorary Doctor of the University by UNSW Sydney. In 2008 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia “for service to education through the study of mathematics, particularly in the field of computational mathematics, as an academic, researcher, and mentor, and to a range of national and international professional associations”.

Power and Peril of the Digital Age image



Dates: Thursday and Friday, 4–5 November 2021, 9.00am–12.30pm AEDT
Venue: Live streaming and subsequent on YouTube
Registration: Details to follow.

We are at a moment in time when we must acknowledge and address the inevitably rising tide of data use and digital services. History will categorize the early decades of the 21st Century as the digital age, the age of prodigious development and use of digital technologies that enable us to transfer and access information easily and swiftly.

So much so that digital interaction is a defining characteristic of modern human life. Societies, economies, and political processes are infused and connected by the ubiquitous use of smart machines and software that process and communicate information to us in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

The pace of digitisation was already fast by the end of 2019 before COVID-19 emerged. The pandemic broke through cultural barriers and enabled implementation of digital strategies in a matter of days or weeks rather than years. Digital technologies are central to dealing with the pandemic itself, as well as being the primary driver of productivity in almost every other aspect of society.

Almost all companies, governments and organisations across the world are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits associated with data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things to solve problems never solved before, to undertake projects in five days that would have taken five years — problems such as those embodied in the United Nations General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals and their achievement by 2030. Tangible benefits include greater social connectivity, learning opportunities, information storage, versatile working and transport, and greater access to entertainment, news, banking and finance.

Unlocking the power of the digital age also brings peril, associated with concerns about data security, state-based and transnational crime, and terrorism, complexity, privacy, social disconnection, media manipulation, manipulation of the truth, communities left behind, national defence and market vulnerabilities, outstripping rule-making and regulatory structures.

This year, the Royal Society of NSW in partnership with the Learned Academies - Health and Medicine, Humanities, Science, Social Sciences, and Technology and Engineering, has chosen “Power and Peril of the Digital Age” as the theme for its annual Forum.

Our goal is to have a grown-up conversation about digitisation and the use of data. It will be framed around the future life of a child born on the first day of the Forum, 4 November 2021. This child will be born into a world of increasingly complex digital systems that hold great value and vulnerability.

Starting with a technological framing, the Forum will explore several major aspects which will impact the journey of that child as we approach 2030 and beyond. We will explore aspects of technology, health, defence, and security in a digital age, and the changing nature of industry as the world and society evolves.

Finally, our annual Forum will be a call to arms for the host Societies to focus on challenges identified during the day that must be addressed for Australia to remain a prosperous, successful, and safe democracy in the digital world.

The Royal Society of NSW acknowledges the generous support of Her Excellency, the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the NSW Smart Sensing Network.

Program: Day 1 (Thursday, 4 November, 9.00 am – 12.30 pm)

Time Session Subject and Speakers
09:00–09.20   Welcome to Country
President, Royal Society of NSW and
Chair, Forum Program Committee
    Official Opening
Her Excellency, The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Governor of New South Wales
    Introduction to the Moderator and Rapporteur
President, Royal Society of NSW
    Moderator and Rapporteur
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney
09.20–10.00 1.1 Science and technology underpinning the digital age:
past, present and future
    Cathy Foley AO PSM FAA FTSE HonFAIP FInstP
Australia's Chief Scientist
Australian Government
    Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS FREng FAA FTSE FIEEE HonFIEAust
NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer
NSW Government
10.00–10.30 1.2 Digital lifetime of a child born today
    Frances Foster Thorpe
Executive Director, Shaping Futures
NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet
    Sue Bennett
Professor, Deputy Director and Connected Child Co-Leader
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child
University of Wollongong
10:30–10.40   Morning Tea

10.40–11.10 1.3 Avoiding a digital dark age
    Shawn Ross FSA
Director, Digitally-Enabled Research (Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)) and Professor of History and Archeology
Macquarie University
    Theresa K D Anderson MACS Snr CP
Social Informaticist, Connecting Stones Consulting and
Research Fellow, School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
11.10–11.40 1.4 Health of our digital child
    Nigel Lyons
Deputy Secretary, Health Systems Strategy and Planning
Department of Health, NSW Government
    Louisa Jorm FAHMS
Professor, Faculty of Medicine and
Foundation Director, Centre for Big Data Research in Health
UNSW (Sydney)
11.40–12.20 1.5 Safety and security of our digital child
    Dale Lambert PSM FTSE
Chief, Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division
Defence Science and Technology Group
Australian Government Department of Defence
    Rory Medcalf
Professor and Head, National Security College
Crawford School of Public Policy
Australian National University
    Audience Q&A
12.20–12.30 1.6 Setting up for Day 2, including the Challenges
    Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney


Program: Day 2 (Friday, 5 November, 9.00 am – 12.30 pm)

Time Session Subject and Speakers
09:00–09.20   Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
President, Royal Society of NSW
    Recap of Day 1
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Moderator and Rapporteur
09.20–10.20 2.1 The light and shade of technology on our digital child
    Moderator: Dr Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
    Edward Santow
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney
(Immediate Past) Australian Human Rights Commissioner
    The Hon. Verity Firth
Executive Director, Social Justice
University of Technology Sydney
    Mr Marc Fennell
Journalist and Maker of Things
    Aengus Tran
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
10:20–10.30   Morning Tea

10.30–11.30 2.2 Securing the future of our digital child
    Robert Hillard
Managing Partner
Deloitte Consulting Asia Pacific
    Angie Abdilla
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Old Ways, New Australia
    Toby Walsh FRSN FAA
Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence
UNSW (Sydney)
    Kate Wilson
Executive Director, Climate Change and Sustainability
NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
11.30–12.10 2.3 Future Australia
    Short Statements from Learned Academy Representatives
12.10–12.30 2.4 Wrap-up and Close
    Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Meet the Fellows—3-minute videos

On this page:


RSNSW SealAbout “Meet the Fellows”

Since the Fellowship category of membership was introduced in December 2013 to recognise individuals who are leaders in their field, the number has continued to grow steadily to the more than 400 Fellows and Distinguished Fellows who form part of our Society today. They join around 200 Members who are also desirous of furthering the aims of the Society and have been elected in accordance with its Rules.

Our Society includes members from a wide range of disciplines and experiences. It draws its strength by embracing the sciences and the humanities and building bridges across them. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts because of the new knowledge, insights, and outcomes created by this collective intelligence.

As one of its first initiatives, the Society’s Community Engagement Committee, co-chaired by Professors Kathy Belov and Eric Knight, is introducing this “Meet the Fellows” series. It will comprise 3-minute video interviews with Fellows, starting with those elected most recently. Not being able to meet face-to-face while we grapple with the pandemic means that we cannot introduce our new Fellows to each other or to the Society at large in person. These videos will help to close that gap.

Each interviewee will be asked the same set of questions. Their own unique answers will add colour and light to the Society’s membership as we interview more and more Fellows. We will extend this initiative to Society Members as soon as possible. Each interview will be posted on the Society’s website and social media accounts, subject of course to appropriate permissions.

I extend my thanks to Kathy Belov, Eric Knight, and Alice Motion from the Community Engagement Committee, and to the Society’s Webmaster, Lindsay Botten, for leading this “Meet the Fellows” initiative.

Dr Susan M Pond AM FRSN
President, Royal Society of NSW
7 August 2021

 Return to the top of the page

Links to the Fellows’ Videos

To view the videos inline on this page, click on the YouTube icon on the graphic.  To view the videos at a larger scale, directly within YouTube, click on the word "YouTube" in the graphic after you have opened the inline view. The full collection of videos is also accessible from the “Meet the Fellows” playlist on the Society’s YouTube channel.

Professor Robert Minasian FRSN
Professor Emeritus, School of Electrical and Information Engineering
The University of Sydney

27 January 2022


Professor Ken-Tye Yong FRSN
Professor and Associate Dean (External Engagement)
The University of Sydney

12 December 2021


Yves Hernot KONM (France) FRSN
Philanthropist and Patron of the Arts

16 September 2021


Dr Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
NSW Chief Data Scientist
Department of Customer Service, NSW Government

7 September 2021


Associate Professor Simon de Graaf FRSN
Associate Professor of Animal Reproduction
The University of Sydney

13 August 2021


Dr Carolyn Hogg FRSN
Senior Research  Manager,
Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group
The University of Sydney

12 August 2021


Anne Maria Nicholson FRSN
Journalist, Author, Company Director,
and Media and Arts Consultant

11 August 2021


Professor Merlin Crossley FRSN
Professor of Molecular Biology and
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
UNSW (Sydney)
10 August 2021


Professor Glenda Sluga FRSN FAHA
Professor of International History
The University of Sydney
9 August 2021


Professor Geraint Lewis FRSN FLSW
Professor of Astrophysics
The University of Sydney
8 August 2021


Director and Chief Executive Officer
The Australian Museum
7 August 2021


Professor Kathy Belov AO FRSN
Professor of Comparative Genomics &
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement)
University of Sydney
4 August 2021



Western NSW Branch

About the Branch and its Role

The Council of the Royal Society of NSW confirmed the establishment of the Western NSW Branch of the Society at its July 2021 meeting.  An Inaugural Meeting to elect the office-bearers was held on 14 September 2021. 

Charles Sturt University is supporting the establishment of the Western NSW Branch and is currently approaching cultural institutions and local industry within the Western Region to support the branch.

The vision and mission of the Branch are those of the broader Society, while its key objectives are to:

  • Establish a vibrant and sustainable Branch of the Royal Society of NSW within the Western Region of NSW
  • Build and foster partnerships with relevant and appropriate organisations in the region
  • Market and promote the role and purpose of the Royal Society within the
    broader community
  • raise funds to provide continuing financial support for the role the Royal Society would play within the Western Region of NSW.

Events and News

For information about events and news concerning Branch, please access the links in the sidebar on the right of this page.


Nominees for Office-bearers, elected at the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Branch, are listed below.  

Chairperson Professor Mark Evans FRSN
Deputy Chairperson Vacant
Secretary Mr Nilima Mathai                       
Treasurer (interim) Mr Trent Pohlmann MRSN
Committee Members (up to six)    Professor Lesley Forster FRSN
  Professor Geoff Gurr FRSN
  Professor Francesco Marino FRSN
  Dr David Nash FRSN


Please address enquiries to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dr Saul Griffith
Our Energy Future:

The Unrecognised Opportunity in Glasgow — In Two Acts

Part 1: Context and Castle

Part 2: Crushed Rocks

Dr Adi Paterson
Dr Saul Griffith FRSN

including a conversation with

Dr Adi Paterson FRSN

Date: 12.30 pm AEST, Wed. 25 August 2021 (Part 1) and 15 September 2021 (Part 2)
Venue: Zoom webinars — with details to follow.
Entry: No charge
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Society Members and Fellows, and members of the public are welcome

This year, from 1–12 November 2021, Glasgow, Scotland will host the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Glasgow” is the current shorthand for this meeting — which may etch it into our consciousness for a generation as Rio de Janiero did in 1992 with the Rio 21 Principles.

Saul Griffith presents a future for our energy system and economy in the context of Glasgow. For Australia, understanding what we know (and why) about our energy economy allows us to think deeply about reimagining an energy economy without carbon dioxide and other emissions. The two sessions explore the Australian energy economy: domestic — “Our Castles” and global — “Our Crushed Rocks”. Using a new analysis of our emissions data and a cross-sectoral analysis, he will contextualise our machines (hardware in the economy) and climate targets (1.5 degrees, with and without negative emissions) to show why we now need nearly perfect execution of new solutions.

Part 1: Context and Castles — 25 August 2021

The Talk: Saul Griffith

Households as a political and economic unit are a natural focal point for climate policy. To win, we must transform household economics by “Electrifying Everything”. This includes near-term cost trends, a new study on Australian household economics, and why our electric vehicle (EV) policies and gas recovery policies are not commensurate with our goals.

The Conversation: Saul Griffith and Adi Paterson

The conversation will explore themes and outcomes from the research and the new opportunities and challenges of “Electrifying Everything”.

Part 2: Crushed Rocks — 14 September 2021

The second session will start with responses to questions and comments from the first session, and will allow people who did not see session 1 to get the background that will give context to the second talk.

Questions may be submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. up until 14 September 2021.

The Talk: Saul Griffith

Given we can win the battle for our Castles in the domestic economy (Part 1), what about the export economy, given the fear of lost rural and regional jobs and export value that has traditionally driven Australian climate politics? This discussion has to deal with our hydrogen demons and global trade and economic security. It needs a very honest look at our primary exports in the context of a carbon-constrained world. Is Australia’s enormous opportunity (still) in metals? If it is, the processes need to be electrified, and we need to produce primary metals and not just ores. There is also an agricultural opportunity.

The Conversation: Saul Griffith and Adi Paterson

Saul and Adi will explore the export economy and the technologies that we don’t yet have, but which are predictably going to exist, to decarbonize the “hard to decarbonize” sectors such as steel, aluminium, cement, agriculture, forestry, paper, and pulp.

The Wrap

Saul Griffith will provide recommendations for what Australia could advance at the COP in Glasgow — if we aspire to be a country that wants to win the carbon Olympics as badly as we wanted to win at the Tokyo Olympics.

About the Speakers

Dr Saul Griffith

Saul Griffith PhD (MIT) ME (Syd) BMetEng (UNSW) is an engineer and energy entrepreneur.  Saul has been a recipient of the Macarthur Fellowship, MIT TR35, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Tallberg Foundation Global Leadership Award, and Lemelson MIT Inventor Award. He has founded multiple technology companies including www.otherlab.com, www.instructables.com (sold to Autodesk), www.makanipower.com (sold to Google), www.sunfolding.com, www.gradientcomfort.com, www.voluteinc.com (sold to Linamar/McLaren), www.roamrobotics.com, and www.canvas.build.  Saul has been principal investigator on government research contracts from NASA, DOE, ARPA-e, DARPA, NSF, NIH, SOCOM, ONR and others and has converted many of the resulting technologies into valuable businesses.  He has studied national and global energy systems in detail, including www.energyliteracy.com, an unprecedented look into the details of energy flows and dependencies.  Saul is the co-founder of RewiringAmerica.org, an advocacy group for rapid electrification of the US economy as a climate solution commensurate with UN 1.5 degree goals. Through Otherlab, Saul works with top tier universities, government research agencies, and Fortune 1000 businesses, but retains his independence as a private R&D enterprise.

Dr Adi Paterson

Dr Adi Paterson has wide-ranging experience in energy policy, systems, technology, and innovation. He has had policy and management experience related to nuclear energy, hydrogen as an energy vector, energy in development settings, and battery innovation and industry potential. His current focus: energy sovereignty, security and low carbon energy options for established economies and the developing world, based on environmental sustainability to 2121. During his tenure as CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Australia joined the Generation-IV International Forum — a treaty-level nuclear organisation developing nuclear reactor designs to be available from 2035. Prior to joining ANSTO he was Chief Operating Officer of the Pebble-Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) Company in South Africa, including responsibility for international outreach (primarily in the USA and Canada).

In the 1990s he led the Materials and Energy Division at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, including the development of high-temperature battery systems and licensing of IP for lithium batteries. He is the Principal and Founder of Siyeva Consulting. He was recognised as Professional Engineer of the Year (Sydney Division) in 2012 and is an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia. He has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wollongong.

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