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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Frontiers of Science Program for Science Teachers: March 2020

TSNSW, TGNSW, AIP and RACI Logos The Royal Society of NSW, the Teachers’ Guild of NSW, and the NSW Branches of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) are pleased to announce the forthcoming Frontiers of Science Program for Science Teachers.

An exciting program comprising four eminent speakers from the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics is planned.

Further details will be made available shortly, with this news post being updated and an event notice being posted on the websites of the Royal Society of NSW, the Teachers’ Guild of NSW, and the NSW branches of the AIP and RACI.

Date/Time: Friday, 6 March 2020, 5.30–8.30pm
Venue: Boston University Campus, 15–25 Regent Street, Chippendale NSW 2008
Registration details for the event will be available shortly.

RSNSW Fellow appointed Chief Scientist of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Rebecca Johnson Dr Rebecca Johnson FRSN, Chief Scientist at the Australian Museum and a leading koala conservation expert, has just been appointed to the highly prestigious post of Chief Scientist and Associate Director at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Johnson referred to her new role as the “biggest and best gig” in the world of natural history, saying that she was both “excited and honoured by the prospect to join an institution which represents the highest level of scientific endeavour.”

The Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to Dr Rebecca Johnson on this exciting international leadership opportunity.

President's Festive Season Message

Royal Society of NSW On behalf of the Council of the Royal Society of NSW, I wish all Fellows and Members a very happy Festive Season, and a successful and prosperous New Year.

I would like to particularly thank our volunteers at the State Library, for their excellent work in putting in order the Society's library collection.

I look forward to seeing you at our events next year. We are on track to offer a more exciting program than ever before, with new events planned. More information will appear in the New Year. Our first event of 2020 will be an opportunity, on Wednesday 12 February, to hear about the excellent research work of our 2019 scholarship winners.

Professor Ian Sloan, AO FAA FRSN
President, Royal Society of NSW

Media Release: Downplaying the Arts

Royal Society of NSW The Royal Society of New South Wales, one of Australia’s oldest societies, deplores the Prime Minister’s proposed restructure of public service departments, in which Arts is moved to a mega-department with responsibilities for infrastructure, transport, cities and communications—surely an unpromising home for the Arts. And the situation is made worse by the fact that Arts is not mentioned in the title of any department.

The Society’s view is that the Arts play an essential role in Australian society, and that governments play a key role in ensuring their vitality. The proposed changes leave the unavoidable impression that the federal government’s commitment to the Arts is weakening.

Royal Society of NSW Awards for 2019

Royal Society of NSW The Council of the Royal Society of New South Wales is pleased to announce its Awards for 2019. The award winners are:

 •  James Cook Medal — Scientia Professor Matthew England
 •  Clarke Medal — Professor Dietmar Müller
 •  Edgeworth David Medal — Professor Si Ming Man
 •  History and Philosophy of Science Medal — Professor Evelleen Richards
 •  Walter Burfitt Prize — Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh
 •  Royal Society of NSW Scholarships — Emma Austin, Shayam Balaji,
     Michael Papanicolaou, and Thomas Pettit.

Further information about the awards and their recipients is available on the website.

Report: Fifth Annual RSNSW and Four Academies Forum

Forum Brochure Cover The fifth annual Forum of the Royal Society of NSW and the four Academies was held at Government House, Sydney on 7 November 2019, with this year’s theme being Making SPACE for Australia . A comprehensive report of the day's presentations, prepared by the Forum Convenors, Emeritus Professor Roy MacLeod FRSN and Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN, is now available, together with the Forum Program and image gallery

Society Fellows awarded NSW Premier's Science Prizes

The Royal Society of NSW is delighted that two of its Fellows were named as recipients of the 2019 NSW Premier's Prizes for Science and Engineering, announced at a ceremony held at Government House, Sydney on the evening of Tuesday, 29 October. Scientia Professor Rose Amal AC FAA FTSE FRSN of UNSW Sydney was named as the 2019 NSW Scientist of the Year , while Payne-Scott Professor Nalini Joshi AO FAA FRSN of the University of Sydney was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry or Physics . The Society most warmly congratulates both Rose and Nalini on their achievements and this recognition of their outstanding research.

Scientia Professor Rose Amal AC FAA FTSE FRSN — UNSW Sydney:   2019 NSW Scientist of the Year

Fellow Rose Amal Professor Amal is a chemical engineer and the leader of the Particles and Catalysis Research Group at UNSW Sydney. Previously she was Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials. Rose is recognised as a pioneer and leading authority in the fields of fine particle technology, photocatalysis and functional nanomaterials, having made significant contributions to those related areas of research over the past 25 years. Her research contributions span from fundamental chemistry to applied chemical engineering fields, and from material science and nano-research to a specialised photochemistry field. Rose’s current research focuses on designing nanomaterials for solar and chemical energy conversion applications (including photocatalysis for water and air purification, and water splitting) and engineering systems for solar-induced processes, using the sun’s energy to generate clean fuel.

Rose has published more than 350 journal articles which have cumulatively received more than 17,750 citations. She has successfully supervised over 50 PhD students.She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (FTSE), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE), an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia (HonFIE Aust), and a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI). She received a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2018 “for eminent service to chemical engineering, particularly in the field of particle technology, through seminal contributions to photocatalysis, to education as a researcher and academic, and to women in science as a role model and mentor.”

Payne-Scott Professor Nalini Joshi AO FAA FRSN — The University of Sydney:   Prize for Excellence in Mathematics, the Earth Sciences, Physics or Chemistry

Fellow Nalini Joshi Professor Joshi was born and spent her early childhood in Burma, before her family emigrated to Australia. She completed a BSc at The University of Sydney and a PhD in applied mathematics at Princeton University. Her research focuses on mathematical methods to study nonlinear systems that arise as universal models in modern physics. Nalini has developed precise definitions of elusive functions, enabling descriptions that extend to the whole domain of existence. They relate behaviours before and after critical transition points in applications such as spontaneous magnetisation in metals, and water waves with surface tension. Her new methodologies have uncovered hidden information across multiple fields, stimulating mathematicians across the globe to take up significant new research directions.

Nalini’s research achievements have led to several distinctions. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2008, won an Australian Research Council Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship in 2012, was the 150th Anniversary Hardy Fellow of the London Mathematical Society in 2015, a US CBMS-NSF Lecturer in 2016, and will be taking up a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship in 2020.

Nalini has a keen interest in diversity. She was foundation co-chair of the Science in Australia Gender Equity national initiative. In 2016, Nalini was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to mathematical science and tertiary education, to professional societies, and as a role model and mentor of young mathematicians. She was awarded the 2018 Eureka prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.

She is currently a Vice-President of the International Mathematical Union and a Councillor of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

Distinguished Fellowship awarded to Professor George Paxinos

George Paxinos The Council of the Royal Society of NSW is delighted to announce the awarding of a Distinguished Fellowship to Professor George Paxinos AO FASSA FAA DistFRSN. The honour Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales is a prestigious award, limited to 25 in number at any time, that recognises internationally-distinguished contributors to science, art, literature, or philosophy. Professor Paxinos, an eminent Greek-Australian neuroscientist, is co-author of the Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates which, with over 65,000 citations across its seven Editions, it is the most cited Australian publication and the most cited neuroscience publication.

Further information about the achievements of Professor Paxinos is available on the Distinguished Fellows page.

Society Fellow wins 2019 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Fellow Elizabeth New The Royal Society of NSW is delighted that one of its Fellows and the recipient of its 2018 Edgeworth David Medal, Associate Professor Elizabeth New from the University of Sydney, has been awarded the 2019 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. The Society congratulates Elizabeth New on this momentous achievement, and the recognition of the impact of her outstanding research.

Professor New, a chemical biologist, was awarded the Malcolm McIntosh Prize at the Prime Minister's Science Prizes ceremony held at Parliament House, Canberra on 16 October. This prize recognises exceptional, early-career achievements in the physical sciences made within 10 years of PhD graduation, with the recipient receiving $50,000 in prize money, a medallion, a lapel pin, and a certificate. In the case of Professor New, this recognition was for her pioneering work in developing new chemical imaging tools to observe healthy and diseased cells.

The research of Professor New has led to the development of different types of fluorescent sensors which make possible, at the molecular level, the observation of how cells cycle and change through events and over time. While existing imaging systems such as ultrasound and MRI provide valuable structural information, they are unable to characterise the nature and distribution of chemicals within the cell. It is here that the fluorescent sensors developed by Professor New make possible the observation of complex chemical processes within cells, enabling an understanding of how cells cycle through oxidative events over long periods, and in turn opening up potential breakthrough treatments for diseases associated with ageing (e.g., cardiovascular, cancer, and diabetes) that afflict 50% of Australians and which are responsible for 85% of deaths.

More on the oustanding achievements and portfolio of work of Associate Professor Elizabeth New can be found on the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science website.

Establishment of a new branch of the Society

The Council of the Society is delighted to announce the establishment of a new branch located in the Hunter region of NSW, confirmed recently at its meeting on 16 October 2019.  

This follows an inaugural meeting, held in Newcastle on 9 October, at which a branch committee was elected and an invited lecture by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS FAA FTSE FRSN, was presented.

Inaugural Meeting, Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW

An inaugural meeting to establish the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW is planned.

Date: Wednesday, 9 October 2019 at 6.00 pm
Venue: Newcastle Club, 40 Newcomen Street, Newcastle NSW
Enquiries: Emerita Professor Eugenie Lumbers, Acting Honorary Secretary, 0416 154 106

Following the meeting, Professor Hugh Durrant-White, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, will deliver an open lecture titled “Industries of the Future”.

For further information, please inspect the meeting notice on the RSNSW website.

 

New Issue of the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of NSW (June 2019)

The June 2019 issue (Vol. 152-1) of the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales has just been published.

Much of the content of this issue is devoted to papers arising from the November 2018 Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum, the focus of which was “Towards a prosperous yet sustainable Australia—what now for the Lucky Country?”. 

The issue also contains the final paper (“The scientists and Darwin's The Origin of Species in nineteenth century Australia. A re-evaluation”) by the historian Ann Moyal, who died earlier this year, aged 93, together with an obituary on the late Noel Hush DistFRSN (1924-2019), and abstracts of six PhD dissertations.

 

Message from the President — Appointment of an Executive Officer

The President of the Royal Society of NSW, Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO, FRSN, has announced that the Society is seeking to appoint its first Executive Officer.

The Exective Officer will report to the President and will have the opportunity to drive a program of transformation in a well-established, prestigious learned society, based in Sydney.  The position  will provide the appointee with the opportunity to drive a program of operational integration and improvement to ensure well-coordinated support across the society. 

Please click on either of the links below for further information about the position:

New Governor agrees to be Patron

The Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, has now formally agreed to be the Patron of the Society. MBforweb2

Queen’s Birthday honours for RSNSW Fellows

The Royal Society of NSW is pleased to acknowledge Fellows and Members of the Society who receive awards in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Recipients in the 2019 list include:

Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)

Emeritus Professor Leo Radom AC FRSN, for eminent service to science, particularly to computational chemistry, as an academic, author and mentor, and to international scientific bodies.

Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

Professor Katherine Belov AO FRSN, for distinguished service to higher education, particularly to comparative genomics, as an academic and researcher.

Professor Michelle Simmons AO FRS FAA DistFRSN, for distinguished service to science education as a leader in quantum and atomic electronics, and as a role model.

Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Dr Keith Suter AM FRSN, for significant service to international relations, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.


Please let the Secretary (Bruce Ramage MRSN, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) know of any names that we have missed.

The Royal Society of NSW also celebrates the achievements of all recipients of Order of Australia awards.

Images from the Annual Dinner 2019

Tom Kenneally and others pre-dinner

Tom Kenneally and others pre-dinner

The President greets the Governor

The President greets the Governor

Sir Anthony Mason is presented with his Distinguished Fellowship certificate

Sir Anthony Mason is presented with his Distinguished Fellowship certificate

Emma Johnston receives the Clarke Medal

Emma Johnston receives the Clarke Medal

Earnest dinner conversation between Ian Wilkinson and Marian Kernahan

Earnest dinner conversation between Ian Wilkinson and Marian Kernahan

The Distinguished Fellow's address is given by Michelle Simmons

The Distinguished Fellow's address is given by Michelle Simmons

Nalini Joshi delivers the vote of thanks for the Distinguished Fellow's address

Nalini Joshi delivers the vote of thanks for the Distinguished Fellow's address

Vice President Judith Wheeldon and Michelle Simmons

Vice President Judith Wheeldon and Michelle Simmons

Emeritus Professor Noel Hush AO DistFRSN

Noel Hush, one of our inaugural Fellows (and Distinguished Fellow) died on Wednesday 20 March, following a heart attack.  He was 94.

Professor Hush was a chemist of international standing.  After graduating from the University of Sydney in the late 1940s and after completing a couple of years there as a research fellow, he took up various research positions in the United Kingdom.  He returned to Australia in 1971 to establish the Department of Theoretical Chemistry, a group that he led for nearly 20 years until his formal retirement.

He received many Australian and international accolades including Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society (London) and was a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

More details of his career (and a full listing of his many postnominals) can be found here.

A memorial service will be held in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on Monday 27 May at 10 am (note changed date and time from what was earlier given here).

RSNSW Fellow to give public lecture

University of Cambridge Professor Herbert Huppert FRS FRSN is giving a public lecture at Sydney University on Wednesday 17 April.

Understanding carbon in the air: can we avert a climate catastrophe?

The event is free, but registration is necessary.

Council election 2019

The 152nd AGM will be held prior to the OGM on Wednesday 3 April 2019 at the State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney.  As part of the AGM, the election of candidates to Council will be held.  Polling will open at 5.30 pm and close at 6.15 pm.  There are 12 candidates for 10 positions as Councillors; the list of candidates is available here.

The AGM agenda and accompanying documents, including a proxy form, will be circulated direct to Members.

Story from the Periodic Table

Immediate past-President Brynn Hibbert is the winner of the first round of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute's competition for stories about the periodic table, run as part of the International Year of the Periodic Table.  You can read his story about Sir Humphry Davy and the discovery of iodine here.

Royal Society Events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes events in Sydney and in its Branches throughout the year. 

In Sydney, these include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held normally at 6.00 for 6.30 pm on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January), in the Gallery Room at the State Library of NSW. At the OGMs, society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given.  This is followed by a public lecture presented by an eminent expert and an optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and lecture, and to cover refreshments.  The dinner is a separate charge, and must be booked in advance.  All OGMs are open to members of the public.

The first OGM of  the year, held in February, has speakers drawn from the winners of the Royal Society Scholarships from the previous year, while the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April or May event is our black-tie Annual Dinner and Distinguished Fellow lecture.

Other events are held in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • The Four Societies lecture — with the Australian Institute of Energy, the Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia (Sydney Division), and the Australian Nuclear Association
  • The Forum — the Australian Academy of Science, with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
  • The Dirac lecture — with UNSW Sydney and the Australian Institute of Physics
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture — with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
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