OCT
19

Western NSW Branch Meeting 2021-1

Professor Stan Grant Eagar“With the Falling of Dusk”

Professor Stan Grant

Vice Chancellor's Chair of
Australian-Indigenous Belonging
Charles Sturt University

Date: Tuesday, 19 October 2021, 1.00 pm AEDT 
Venue:  Zoom Webinar, registration required
Entry: No Charge
Society Members, Fellows, and members of the public are welcome

This meeting is presented jointly by Charles Sturt University and the Royal Society of NSW.

Summary:  The world is at a critical inflection point with rising authoritarianism and waning democracy. The world’s superpower, the United States, is waning and being challenged by a rising power, China. Not since the lead up to World War One have we seen such a fundamental shift in the global order. After two decades of terrorism, war, economic collapse, and now a devastating global pandemic what is to become of us? Renowned, award-winning journalist and Charles Sturt University Chair of Indigenous/Australian Belonging takes us on a journey through a world of change calling on three decades of front line reporting in Australia and around the globe. Stan explores questions of history and identity and argues the west may need to give up power to keep it.

About the speaker: Professor Stan Grant holds the CSU Vice-Chancellor's Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University. He is is a highly respected and awarded journalist with a 30-year career that includes experience in radio, television news and current affairs with the ABC, SBS, and CNN.

Formerly, he was the ABC's Global Affairs and Indigenous Affairs Analyst. Stan Grant has been awarded three Walkley awards, two Peabody awards, four Asia TV awards, an Australian TV Logie award, an International Indigenous Trailblazer Award, two Australian Academy of Cinema Television awards, an Australian Heritage Literature award and an Association of International Sports Journalists award, among many others. He has also published four critically acclaimed and best-selling books on identity and Australian Indigenous history, and in 2019 wrote, and featured in, the full-length documentary film, The Australian Dream, which won the AACTA Award for best feature documentary in 2019.

 

JUN
26

Royal Society of NSW Exhibition: NEXUS

RSNSW Exhibition: NEXUS Cover Image

Jean Garling Room
Mitchell Building, State Library of NSW
1 Shakespeare Place, Sydney

EXHIBITION OPENING DELAYED DUE TO THE GREATER SYDNEY COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

 

Delayed Opening: The opening of NEXUS, which was to occur on the weekend of 26 June 2021, has now been delayed due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation in Sydney, and the lockdown of Greater Sydney declared on 26 June. The State Library will be closed until the cessation of the current lockdown, 11.59 pm on Friday 9 July, unless restrictions are further extended. This notice will be updated as soon as the Society is advised by the Library when the Exhibition can open. Please check back regularly.

About the Exhibition: This Exhibition begins a year of celebrations to mark the Society’s contributions to the intellectual life of NSW over 200 years. It is the perfect moment to reinforce our commitment to enriching lives through knowledge and inquiry. As we think about our future, we are informed by our history.

NEXUS has two meanings: a central or focal point; and a connection or series of connections linking two or more things. From the beginning, the Society has epitomised both meanings, as a forum for ideas and discovery, exposing us to the latest research and promoting awareness of some of the major issues confronting humanity. With 200 years of history, the exhibition can only showcase a fraction of the Society’s archives and achievements in telling the story of its Origins, Ideas, Advances, and Impacts.

Highlights of the exhibition include: 

  • Letters from Professor Sir T W Edgeworth David, Antarctic explorer, on sun thaw line observations and arranging a presentation on the British Antarctic Expedition (1907 – 1909) led by Sir Ernest Shackleton
  • Two original letters, including one with box-kite illustrations, of Lawrence Hargrave, a noted aviation pioneer and the first in Australia to fly (attached to four box kites of his own design), who published 23 papers on aeronautics in the Society’s Journal & Proceedings.
NOV
04

RSNSW and Learned Academies Forum 2021

Power and Peril of the Digital Age

 

POWER AND PERIL OF THE DIGITAL AGE

Dates: Thursday and Friday, 4–5 November 2021, 9.00 am–12.30 pm AEDT
Venue: Live streaming and subsequently on YouTube
Cost: No charge.
Registration: Please register now through the Public Sector Network portal.
Program brochure: Download the program brochure in pdf format (2.3MB)

The Royal Society of New South Wales and the Learned Academies acknowledge the generous support of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the NSW Smart Sensing Network.

Summary

We are at a moment in time when we must acknowledge and address the inexorably rising tide of data use and digital services. History will categorise 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 and supercomputer simulation 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 and simulation, 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 access and usage, versatile working and transport, and greater access to entertainment, news forms of 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 their 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 two days that must be addressed for Australia to remain a prosperous, successful, and safe democracy in the digital world.

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

Time Session Subject and Speakers
09:00–09.20   Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE FAHMS
President, Royal Society of New South Wales 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
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE FAHMS
President, Royal Society of New South Wales
    Moderator and Rapporteur
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government and
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 FRSN FAA FTSE
Australia's Chief Scientist
Australian Government
    Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS FREng FAA FTSE
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
Director, Digitally-Enabled Research (Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)) and Professor of History and Archeology
Macquarie University
    Theresa K D Anderson
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 System Strategy and Planning
Ministry 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
12.20–12.30 1.6 Setting up for Day 2, including the Challenges
    Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government and
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
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE FAHMS
President, Royal Society of NSW
    Recap of Day 1
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Moderator and Rapporteur
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney
09.20–10.20 2.1 The light and shade of technology on our digital child
    Edward Santow
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney
(Immediate Past) Australian Human Rights Commissioner
    The Honourable Verity Firth
Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion
University of Technology Sydney
    Marc Fennell
Journalist, Interviewer, and Maker of Things
    Aengus Tran
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Harrison.ai
10:20–10.30   Morning Tea

10.30–10.40 2.2 Address by NSW Government Minister
    The Hon. Victor Dominello MP
Minister for Digital and Minister for Customer Service
Member for Ryde
10.40–11.30 2.3 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
Professor of Practice, Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, UNSW (Sydney)
    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 2.4 Future Australia
    Short Statements from Learned Academy Representatives
    Tony Cunningham AO FAHMS
Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
    Richard Waterhouse FAHA FASSA
Australian Academy of Humanities
    Toby Walsh FAA
Australian Academy of Science
    Deborah Lupton FASSA
Australian Academy of Social Sciences
    Annabelle Duncan PSM FRSN FTSE
Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
12.10–12.30 2.5 Wrap-up and Close
    Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government and
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney
OCT
06

1298th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Toby Walsh“Privacy and Identity in an
AI world”

Professor Toby Walsh FAA FACM FAAAS

Scientia Professor of AI
School of CSE, UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 6 October 2021, 6.30 pm AEDT 
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video
All are welcome. 

 Summary: Artificial Intelligence is making great advances, many of which challenge our notions of privacy and identity. From face recognition to automated decision making, what are the most pressing problems and how should we navigate this future to ensure a prosperous, just, and sustainable society?

Professor Toby Walsh is a Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor of AI at the University of New South Wales and Data61, and an adjunct professor at QUT. He was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the "rock stars" of Australia's digital revolution. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science and recipient of the NSW Premier's Prize for Excellence in Engineering and ICT. He appears regularly on TV and radio and has authored two books on AI for a general audience, the most recent entitled "2062: The World that AI Made".

DEC
01

1299th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Richard Bryant “Managing Psychological Distress in Times of Stress: Handling the Stress of COVID-19”

Professor Richard Bryant AC FASSA FAA FAHMS
Scientia Professor of Psychology &
Director, Traumatic Stress Clinic
UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 1 December 2021, 6.30 pm AEDT 
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Entry: No charge
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
All are welcome. 

 Summary: Australia has a long tradition of dealing with environmental challenges, including seasonal impacts of bushfires, floods, drought, and severe storms. These events can result in marked deterioration in the mental health of Australians. This pattern has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a significant increase in mental health problems across the nation. This has sparked calls both in Australia and globally for novel approaches to manage mental health problems in the wake of these mass events.

This review will describe a body of work that has mapped many of the key mechanisms that promote better mental health after adversity. It will also describe work that has harnessed this evidence to develop brief mental health programs that can be readily disseminated to people in times of need. Controlled trials will be reported that have evaluated the extent to which these programs can improve mental health, and how this approach points to a re-think of how mental health is managed by governments.

Richard Bryant is a Scientia Professor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Professor Bryant’s research has focused on the nature and treatment of stress reactions. He has identified key genetic, neural, and psychological factors underpinning stress reactions and strategies to manage them. His assessment and treatment protocols have been translated into over 15 languages and used in many countries. Professor Bryant has written 6 books, 75 book chapters, and 670 journal articles. He has worked with the World Health Organization to develop programs to manage stress reactions and has adapted these to manage mental health problems during the pandemic. This program has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and anxiety, and is being evaluated across Australia, Europe, and India.

SEP
15

Our Energy Future: Part 2 of a two part event from RSNSW

Dr Saul Griffith
Our Energy Future:

The Unrecognised Opportunity in Glasgow — In Two Acts

Part 2: Crushed Rocks

Dr Adi Paterson
Dr Saul Griffith FRSN

including a conversation with

Dr Adi Paterson FRSN

Date: 12.30 pm AEST, Wednesday 15 September 2021 (Part 2)
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube videos for Part 1 and Part 2
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

Part 1 was presented on 25 August and in the event that you missed the presentation it is now available on our YouTube channel.  

Part 2: Crushed Rocks — 15 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 the close of business on Thursday, 9 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 decarbonise the “hard to decarbonise” 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.

SEP
14

Inaugural Meeting to establish the Western NSW Branch of the Society

RSNSW Note Template




Date: Tuesday, 14 September 2021, 2.00 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar.  For assistance in getting started with Zoom, please click here.
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Entry: No charge
All Society members are invited to join this historic occasion. 

The Council has resolved to establish a new branch of the Society in Western NSW covering a wide area including the towns of Wagga Wagga, Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo. The new Branch is being established with the support of Charles Sturt University. In accordance with the Rules the Council is convening a meeting to inaugurate the Branch and establish the first Branch Committee. The President, Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN will give a presentation about the Society in Western New South Wales. The agenda for the meeting is below.

The agenda for the meeting is now available online.

SEP
01

1297th OGM and Open Lecture

Dr Jessica Milner Davis“Taking humour and laughter seriously: Exploring the multi-disciplinary field of humour studies”

Dr Jessica Milner Davis FRSN

Honorary Associate, University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 1 September 2021, 6.30 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar.  For assistance in getting started with Zoom, please click here.
Video Presentation: YouTube video 
All are welcome. 

Summary: From the time of Aristotle and Plato, philosophers have speculated about humour and laughter, proposing that ridere est humanum. But we now know that chimpanzees and rats also laugh. Sociologist Norbert Elias believed that laughter evolved as an antidote to aggression; but humour can also be damaging. This lecture explores the question of whether humour unites or divides the human race. Studies in neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, literature, performance, history, sociology, religion, health, and the emotions all now contribute to our understanding of the functions and consequences of humour. We honour its creators and practitioners, but we still can‘t define it.

Jessica Milner Davis PhD FRSN is a research associate at the University of Sydney and at Brunel University London’s Centre for Comedy Studies Research. A life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, she has held fellowships and lectured at the Universities of Cambridge, Bologna, Bristol, and NSW, as well as Stanford, Hofstra, and the Jagellonian University. A past president of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), she founded and continues to co-ordinate the Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN: https://ahsnhumourstudies.org/). In 2018 she received the ISHS Lifetime Achievement Award for her interdisciplinary research and publications on humour, comedy, and laughter.

AUG
25

Our Energy Future: Part 1 of a two-part event from RSNSW

Dr Saul Griffith
Our Energy Future:

The Unrecognised Opportunity in Glasgow — In Two Acts

Part 1: Context and Castles

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 
Venue: Zoom webinars
Video presentation: YouTube videos for Part 1 and Part 2
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 — 15 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 the close of business on Thursday, 9 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 decarbonise the “hard to decarbonise” 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.

AUG
25

Hunter Branch Meeting 2021-3

Professor Kathy Eagar“Did the Aged Care Royal Commission provide a blueprint to fix Australia's aged care system? If not, what else needs to happen?”

Professor Kathy Eagar
Director, Australian Health Services Research Institute
University of Wollongong

Date: Wednesday, 25 August 2021, 6.00 pm AEST 
Venue:  Zoom Webinar
Video Presentation: YouTube video
Society Members, Fellow, and members of the public are welcome

Summary:  As our population shrinks and ages, the provision of a safe effective system of aged care is an immediate priority for both our Government and our society. The need for reform within the sector has clearly been highlighted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic as well as The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's final report. The latter laid out an extensive plan to overhaul Australia's aged care sector outlining 148 recommendations for improvement. The report calls for a new system underpinned by a rights-based Act, a funding model based on need, and much stronger regulation and transparency. The problems facing the aged care sector are only going to increase in intensity in the future. So what needs to be done?

About the speaker: Professor Kathy Eagar is Professor of Health Sciences Research and Director of the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) at the University of Wollongong.  

Our speaker, Professor Eagar will be accompanied by a panel of two: Dr Max Thorpe, a clinician, and Ms Marie Coleman AO, an Australian feminist, social activist, public servant and journalist.  Dr Thorpe understands the inadequacies in the Aged Care System through his involvement in the management of community-based aged care, and both he and Ms Coleman are strong advocates for the better management of aged care.

 

AUG
04

1296th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Alison Bashford“The Intimate History of Evolution: The Huxleys 1825–1975”

A contribution to National Science Week

Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FRHistS FBA
Laureate Professor of History
UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 4 August 2021, 6.30 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar.   
Video presentation: YouTube video 
 

Summary: At Life Magazine’s 1947 photoshoot, Julian Huxley self-consciously arranged himself in front of a portrait of his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley. In the foreground, a well-known mid-twentieth century science writer, zoologist, conservationist—that generation’s David Attenborough. In the background, a mid-nineteenth century natural scientist – Darwin’s most outspoken spokesman.

Huxley Image Between them, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) and Julian Huxley (1887–1975) communicated to the world the great modern story of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Together, they were ‘trustees of evolution’, a phrase that Julian Huxley often used to describe all of humankind, but which I use to describe the Huxleys themselves.

What is yielded by considering these two particular Huxleys together? They were driven by the same momentous questions, but in different eras. What is the nature of time and how old is the Earth itself? What is the connection and distinction between human history and natural history? How are humans animals and how are we not? What is the deep past and the distant future of humankind? Can and should we actively seek to improve future generations? What might the planet look like 10,000 years hence? Through and with these high-powered Huxleys, I can track the problems and wonders of the modern world that they themselves raised, postured, and pondered over lives that spanned 1825-1975.

Alison Bashford is Laureate Professor of History at UNSW, and Director of the Laureate Centre for History & Population, and Honorary Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge. Previously she was Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University. Bashford is best known for her work on the modern history of population and human ecology, in two books, Global Population: History, Geopolitics and Life on Earth (Columbia 2014) and The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus (Princeton, 2016) with Joyce E. Chaplin. She is currently completing An Intimate History of Evolution: From Genesis to Genetics with a Scientific Dynasty, the Huxleys, 1825–1975 (Penguin RandomHouse). Alison Bashford is a fellow of the British Academy and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She was awarded the Royal Society of New South Wales History and Philosophy of Science Medal for 2020 and the Dan David Laureate Prize in 2021.

JUL
22

[email protected]: July 2021

Governor of NSW Crest-Silver and Gold-2020[email protected]

Presented by

Her Excellency the Honourable
Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW

Greta Bradman
“Music as a Superfood: How music can help us live longer, sleep better, calm down, find flow, and feel happier

Greta J. Bradman
Writer, broadcaster, psychologist, and performing artist

Date: Thursday, 22 July 2021, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom webinar. For assistance in getting started with Zoom, please click this link
Video Presentation: YouTube video
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

About the talk: Greta Bradman will discuss how music can help us live longer, sleep better, calm down, find flow, and feel happier. The talk will include explorations of the evidence base, plus some personal anecdotes.

About the speaker: Greta Bradman consults with public and private organisations across technology and creative industries on culture, works in private practice as a psychologist, presents Weekend Brunch and is the creator of “Music for Wellbeing” offerings on ABC Classic. She hosts concerts and conversations, and provides workshops around wellbeing, human values, and decision-making. She is the founder of pre-launch, values-based tech startup, Eiris Inc. She still sings from time-to-time. 

Formerly an artist for Universal Music (Decca Classics), she had four No.1 solo albums and has featured on others. She has sung with opera companies, symphony orchestras and ensembles around Australia and the Asia Pacific, through Europe, the UK, and US. She has produced her own tours, and has toured alongside colleagues from around the world.

Alongside fundraising strategy and implementation, Greta advises and actively participated in the key development of evidence-based initiatives and programs that have demonstratively supported wellbeing-related outcomes.

Greta is a Trustee of Arts Centre Melbourne and holds advisory board positions with: Arts Wellbeing Collective; Arts Centre Melbourne Foundation; The Alfred Foundation; and, the Australian Mental Health Prize. Greta is a member of the Federal Government’s Creative Industry Taskforce. She is currently completing her Senior Executive MBA at Melbourne Business School.

About [email protected]: In late 2019, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales and Patron of the Royal Society of NSW, invited representatives of the Society to discuss how the Governor might open Government House to a series of public events based on important and/or influential ideas. Her Excellency’s proposal was that the Royal Society of NSW and other organisations might devise a series of lectures, to be held at Government House, and known as [email protected] on topics of our choice for an invited audience of our Members and Fellows, together with others to be invited by Her Excellency. This is the third in the [email protected] series, the first being held in May 2020, and the second in April 2021.

JUL
15

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2021-6

Dr Helen Caynard-Casely Toby Walsh“ANSTO’s WOMBAT Project”

Dr Helen Maynard-Casely
Senior Instrument Scientist
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

Date: Thursday, 15 July 
Venue: Via email circulation

 

Summary

Dr Maynard-Casely was due to present this talk at the Mittagong RSL on 15 July 2021. Unfortunately, because of the updated COVID-19 restrictions associated with the Greater Sydney Lockdown in July 2021, this event has had to be cancelled. The Branch Committee regrets any inconvenience caused.

In the light of the current circumstances, the face-to-face event has been replaced by a YouTube recording titled “Exploring dwarf planets using neutron powder diffraction studies”.

 Dr Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer instrument. She assists and collaborates with visiting scientists, works with the sample environment team in commissioning new equipment for WOMBAT, and is co-responsible for improving and expanding the capabilities of the instrument.

Her own research expertise is in investigating the materials relevant to the surface of the icy moons, such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Titan. Her journey to exploring these icy moons began with her degree in Planetary Sciences from University College London and was followed by her PhD in high-pressure physics at the University of Edinburgh. Moving to Australia, first to undertake a post-doctoral position at the Powder-Diffraction beamline at the Australian Synchroton, where she developed her program of research on planetary ices - she then moved to the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering in 2013 to take up her current role.

JUL
07

1295th OGM and Open Lecture

Dr Erik Aslaksen“Society as an information processing system, and the influence of the media”

Dr Erik Aslaksen FRSN

Physicist, Engineer, and Author

Date: Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6.30 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video 

Summary: We are concerned about our environment, and rightfully so: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and threats to this environment from global warming, loss of biological diversity, and many other concerns. These are all concerns about our physical environment, much as an ice bear is concerned about the melting of the ice, or as the koala is concerned about the reduction of its habitat due to deforestation. We are also concerned about many aspects of our society, such as overpopulation, economic growth, inequality, poverty, healthcare, and pandemics; again, concerns about physical features.

In this talk, Dr Erik Aslaksen will present a complementary view of our society — one peculiar to our species; a view of society as an information-processing system in which the physical aspects of society are both the results and the enablers of our mental processes. The system consists of individuals as processors and of the interactions between them in the form of information exchange, and as the processing capability and capacity of the individuals have not changed significantly over the last 10,000 years or so, the evolution of our society is, in this view, the evolution of this information exchange. This is an evolution characterised by the media involved and of the technology enabling them,  from the earliest cave art to the Internet. Correspondingly, our concerns for society change from the above concerns about physical features to concerns about the information exchange and the associated information technology — in particular, about the ability to use the technology to control the information flow. Two examples of this concern will be discussed; one being the increasing concentration of wealth in the West, and with it the ownership and control of the media by a small group of people; the other arising out of the fact that the world society has arrived at a unique point in its evolution, but with a great reluctance to talk about it.

Erik W. Aslaksen is an engineer and physicist, with over fifty years of industrial experience, gained in the USA, Switzerland, and Australia, and covering fields as diverse as microwave components, power electronics, quantum electronics, and telecommunications, and ranging from basic research to corporate management. He obtained a MSc (EE) from the Swiss Institute of Technology in 1962, and a PhD in theoretical physics from Lehigh University in 1968. Erik was a Director of Ewbank Preece Sinclair Knight from 1988 until 1993, a Principal of Sinclair Knight Merz from 1993 until 2003, and an Adjunct Professor at the UTS until 1995.

In recent years his main interest has been in the area of systems engineering, engineering management, philosophical aspects of engineering, and the interaction between technology and society, as well as the evolution of society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and of the International Council on Systems Engineering, a Charter Member of Omega Alpha, and is the author of eight books (one with W.R. Belcher), four book chapters, and more than eighty papers.

His most recent publications are:

  • The Social Bond: How the interaction between individuals drives the evolution of society, Springer Nature, 2018
  • The Stability of Society, Springer Nature, 2020
  • Measures of Social Evolution, Springer Nature, 2021.
JUN
30

Hunter Branch Meeting 2021-2

Professor Jason Sharples“Extreme bushfires and the
age of violent pyroconvection”

Professor Jason Sharples

School of Science
UNSW (Canberra)

Date: Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 6.00 pm AEST 
Venue:  Zoom Webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

(*) NotePlease note the change to both the time of the event and the venue/format. The current uncertainty regarding COVID-19 has necessitated a change in format from a face-to-face meeting to the Zoom webinar format.  Refund arrangements will be notified to those who have already made payments for the originally planned event (and dinner) at Noah's on the Beach.  

Summary:  Over the last few decades, Australia and other fire prone parts of the world have seen an apparent increase in the occurrence of large destructive bushfires, such as those experienced during the 2019/20 Black Summer. These fires defy suppression, consistently result in the loss of life and property, and further impact the cultural, economic, social and political stability of communities. They also produce significant environmental damage with ongoing implications for the ecology and biodiversity of many species. The types of behaviours exhibited by these fires are often at odds with traditional approaches to understanding bushfire, which have primarily relied on information gathered during smaller experimental fires in particular types of vegetation. In contrast, these fires tend to manifest as violent pyroconvective events, which often share more in common with an atmospheric storm than a surface fire. In this talk I will present an overview of recent insights into the occurrence and behaviour of these extreme bushfires and discuss some of the challenges they pose for bushfire risk management.

Brief biography: Professor Sharples is a mathematical scientist and internationally recognised expert in dynamic bushfire behaviour and extreme bushfire development. He has led several Australian Research Council and Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre projects and is involved in international wildfire research projects. These projects consider various aspects of extreme and dynamic bushfire propagation, the development of large conflagrations and bushfire risk management. His expertise is particularly relevant because of the large gap between the predictions of current mathematical models of fire behaviour and actual fire behaviour.

He is Director of the UNSW Bushfire Research Group, which aims to improve understanding of the fundamental processes that drive extreme bushfire development and their relation to firefighter and community safety.

Professor Sharples has acted an expert witness in several Coronial and Parliamentary Inquiries, most recently at the 2020 Bushfire Royal Commission, and has been a key contributor to the international dialogue around wildfire modelling and risk management. His research has been adopted in national firefighter training materials and into the operational procedures of bushfire management agencies such as the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Professor Sharples graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics/Physics) and Bachelor of Mathematics in 1995 and an Honours degree in Mathematics in 1996, all from the University of Newcastle (UON). He then completed his PhD in pure mathematics and mathematical physics at the University of Canberra. He was UON’s first indigenous student awarded double degrees in Bachelor of Science/ Bachelor of Mathematics and a recipient of the University Medal.

JUN
17

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2021-5

Max La Galle “Burnout — the hottest issue”

Max La Galle
introduced by
Dr Ken McCracken

Date: Thursday, 17 June, 6.30 pm AEST
Venue: RSL Mittagong, Nattai/Joadja Rooms
All are welcome 

Summary: Science has progressed beyond our wildest predictions in these 200 years and it is no wonder that young aspiring scientists these days are now walking in the footsteps of the eminent scientists who have done so much to advance science, philosophy, and medicine before them. Our 17 June lecture will demonstrate this very clearly as we listen to a presentation from a gifted young scientist, Max La Galle, who will be introduced to the audience by one of our internationally acclaimed scientists, Dr Ken McCracken. This presentation we have called “Reach for the Skies” – which is exactly what both do on a daily basis in the true tradition of the Royal Society. 

Dr Ken McCracken In introducing Max La Galle, Ken McCracken will reflect on the pervasive role of scientific societies in the development of science in the past, including in his career in space research and in applied science in the CSIRO. Incidentally, Ken has just been awarded the senior medal of the international space research body, COSPAR, there having been only 70 such awards in the 64 years of space research. His award included naming Minor Planet 8258 in his honour as Minor Planet (8258) McCracken. In so many ways, Ken has literally “Reached for the Skies”.

Max la Galle is an outstanding young scientist who has recently been interviewed by Robyn Williams on the ABC Science Show. In this presentation, he will discuss Hydrogen Fusion, a technology that has been in the development for decades. Humanity is finally on the verge of cracking this “Holy Grail” of energy production. Max will talk you through how this technology captured his interest early on his scientific journey, where this interest took him, and why emerging technologies are so important for aspiring STEM students to look towards. He too is clearly “Reaching for the skies”.

JUN
02

1294th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Richard Kingsford“Murray-Darling Basin turmoil:
past, present, and future”

Professor Richard Kingsford FRSN

Professor of Environmental Science
Director, Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 2 June 2021, 6.30pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Summary:  The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia's most developed river system, supporting extensive irrigation industries, pastoralists, traditional owner communities, fishers, tourism and ecosystems. More than a century of river development through the building of dams, development of floodplains, and diversion of water has had devastating impacts on ecosystem services and ecosystems. The Millennium Drought was a catalyst for change. The Australian Government took over control of the Basin with the Water Act 2007, implemented by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The Commonwealth Government's external powers, particularly in relation to wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and migratory shorebirds were the primary driver for this, but States still remained in control of their rivers under the Federal Constitution, through their planning. A principal objective was to restore the health of the Murray-Darling Basin River system.

More than $13 billion dollars later, there are many challenges and questions about what has been achieved and at what cost. The number of inquiries continues to rise. The NSW Government is planning to build three large dams and smaller weirs on the rivers. Unfortunately, the ecological state of the Murray-Darling Basin continues to decline, albeit potentially at a slower rate than would have occurred otherwise. In this talk, I will present my research on wetlands and waterbirds within the context of these major changes, past and present, as well as identify some of the major challenges for the future.

Brief biography: Professor Richard Kingsford is a river ecologist and conservation biologist who has worked extensively across the wetlands and rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. He also worked with many different communities and governments across this region. His research has influenced the policy and management of rivers in Australia, including through his involvement on state and federal advisory committees. He also leads a reintroduction or rewilding project, Wild Deserts, in Sturt National Park (NSW). He is the Director for the Centre for Ecosystem Science UNSW, Sydney. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW in 2018.

MAY
26

Hunter Branch Meeting 2021-1

Dr Alan Finkel AO“On readying our region for low emissions technology”

Dr Alan Finkel AO FTSE FAA
Former Chief Scientist of Australia

Date: Wednesday, 26 May 2021, 5.30pm AEST 
Venue: Newcastle Conservatorium of Music (cnr Auckland and Laman Streets, Newcastle) and Zoom live-streaming
Video presentation:YouTube video

In Conversation with Dr Alan Finkel AO.

This presentation, from the University of Newcastle and the Royal Society of NSW, coincides with the visit by Dr Finkel to the University of Newcastle.  It includes a public address, and an in-depth interview which will allow his audience to understand and explore the vast opportunities available through low emissions or carbon neutral technologies. 

In particular he will share insights into the government and technology directions and how regional industries might respond, particularly in the context of the Hunter in which the University of Newcastle is leading research in clean hydrogen energy, the transition to zero emission mining of aluminum, iron ore and steel, renewable energy storage technology, and bio-sequestration in regional farming practices.

Dr Alan Finkel AO is one of Australia’s most distinguished scientific, engineering, and academic advisers and advocates for innovation in technology. In 2021 he completed his tenure as Australia’s Chief Scientist and has since been appointed Special Adviser to the Commonwealth Government on the research, development, transition, and application of low emissions technology.

He is noted for making the topics of science, engineering, technology, accessible and exciting to young people through his advice and contributions to the development of the nation’s modern STEM curriculum. 

MAY
20

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2020-4

Professor Gordon Parker “Burnout — the hottest issue”

Professor Gordon Parker AO
Scientia Professor of Psychiatry
UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Thursday, 20 May, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: RSL Mittagong (face-to-face)
All are welcome. 

Summary:If constant stress has you feeling helpless, disillusioned and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout. In this lecture, Professor Gordon Parker will discuss what you can do to regain your balance and feel hopeful and positive once again.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Listen to this lecture by psychiatrist Professor Gordon Parker to hear all about the history of burnout, its key symptoms, who gets it, its causes and prevalence, what happens in the brain and most importantly…how to correct it.

Professor Gordon Parker AO is Scientia Professor of Psychiatry, UNSW, was Founder of the Black Dog Institute and its initial Executive Director, Head of the School of Psychiatry at UNSW, and Director of the Division of Psychiatry at Prince of Wales Hospital. His positions with the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists include being Editor of its Journal. Positions with legal organisations include the NSW Guardianship Board and the NSW Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In 2004 he received a Citation Laureate as the Australian Scientist most highly cited in ‘Psychiatry/Psychology’. In 2018 he received the prestigious James Cook Medal from the Royal Society of New South Wales, and was recipient of the 2020Australian Mental Health Prize. His research has focussed on the mood disorders. He has published 23 books and over 1,000 scientific reports. His first of fiction was published in 1966 and his latest novel (“In Two Minds”) in 2017. In the 60’s, he wrote for The Mavis Bramston Show and OZ Magazine, was an ABC Science broadcaster, a book reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, and in 2004 had a play (“Personality Games”) produced by La Mama in Melbourne. His autobiography “A Piece of My Mind: A Psychiatrist on the Couch” was published in 2012. His co-authored book on Burnout will be published on 1 July 2021.

MAY
05

1293rd OGM and Open Lecture

Emerita Professor Mary O'Kane“Big, bad fires in NSW”

Emerita Professor Mary O’Kane AC FRSN FTSE Hon FIEAust

Chair, NSW Independent Planning Commission

Date: Wednesday, 5 May 2021, 6.30pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Summary:  As noted in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, “The 2019-20 bush fire season was extreme, and extremely unusual. It showed us bush fires through forested regions on a scale that we have not seen in Australia in recorded history, and fire behaviour that took even experienced firefighters by surprise. The total tally of fire-generated thunderstorms in south-eastern Australia since the early 1980s increased from 60 at the end of 2018-19 to almost 90 at the end of the 2019-20 bush fire season – an increase of almost 50% in one bush fire season. Fire-generated thunderstorms are extremely dangerous phenomena that produce extreme winds, lightning, tornadoes and black hail.  The season showed us what damage megafires can do, and how dangerous they can be for communities and firefighters. And it is clear that we should expect fire seasons like 2019-20, or potentially worse, to happen again.”

This talk will examine the nature of the 2019-20 bushfires, why they were so extreme, and why they are likely to happen again.

Mary O’Kane is Chair of the NSW Independent Planning Commission, a company director, and Executive Chairman of O’Kane Associates, a company advising governments and the private sector on innovation, research, education and development. She was NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer from 2008-2018; Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1996-2001 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Adelaide from 1994-1996. Before that, she was Dean of Information Sciences and Engineering at the University of Canberra.

Mary has served on several boards and committees in the public and private sectors, especially related to energy, engineering, ICT and research. She is currently Chair of the boards of Aurora Energy Pty Ltd and Sydney Health Partners. She also carries out reviews in a wide range of fields in many countries. She recently was one of the two leaders of NSW Bushfire Inquiry.

Professor O’Kane is a Companion of  the Order of Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia, a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and the recipient of the 2020 Royal Society of NSW Medal.  

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