Vale Geoffrey Colin Harcourt AC FRSN FASSA (1931–2021)

Geoffrey Harcourt

The Royal Society of NSW records with great sadness the passing of one of its valued and eminent Fellows, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Harcourt AC FRSN FASSA, on 7 December 2021 at the age of 90.

Geoff Harcourt was a graduate of Melbourne and Cambridge universities. He taught at Adelaide and Cambridge, which has remembered him as an economist of world renown.

He authored or edited 29 books and published over 380 articles, chapters in books, and reviews. A Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in both Australia and the UK, he was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1994 “for services to economic theory and to the history of economic thought” and, subsequently in 2018, a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) “for eminent service to higher education as an academic economist and author, particularly in the fields of Post-Keynesian economics, capital theory and economic thought”.

He leaves behind an outstanding professional legacy. His most influential book, “Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital,” (1972), outlined a dispute between economists at Cambridge, England, and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (England won.) He spent his final years at UNSW.

But he contributed beyond his prolific activities as an economist. Having a burning dislike of injustice and intolerance, he sought to build a more just and equitable society. From being active in the anti-Vietnam War movement in Adelaide in the 1960s through to mentoring Indigenous students doing undergraduate and graduate courses at UNSW in his later years, Geoff Harcourt followed his convictions with his actions. For all his achievements and passions, Geoff was always down to earth, always interested in people, especially young people, and always quick with witty and insightful comments.


Society Fellow elected as a 2021 Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering

ATSE logo and image of Professor Jason Sharples The Royal Society of NSW is delighted to learn of the recognition of one of its Fellows as a new Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, elected in November 2021.  He is Professor Jason Sharples FRSN FTSE of UNSW (Canberra), a Bundjalung man, who uses predictive mathematical models to prevent catastrophic bushfires.

Professor Jason Sharples is a mathematical scientist and an internationally recognised expert in dynamic bushfire behaviour and extreme bushfire development. His research has extensively influenced policy and practice in Australia and internationally. Further, some recommendations of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfires were framed by his research. Using complex predictive mathematical models, Professor Sharples' research aims to prevent big fires from forming by forecasting danger periods and predicting areas where small fires could develop into big ones. He directs several national research projects and contributes to the international professional dialogue.  A Bundjalung man, Jason Sharples says Indigenous Australians have been innovators and scientists for thousands of years, a heritage that can continue today, especially through fire and land management.

Professor Sharples addressed the Royal Society of NSW in June 2021 on his research in a fascinating talk titled “Extreme bushfires and the age of violent pyroconvection”. This talk is available on YouTube.

The Council of the Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to Professor Jason Sharples on this recognition by the Technology and Engineering Academy for his achievements.


Recordings of the 2021 Forum now on YouTube

Forum 2021: Power and Peril of the Digital Age cover image The Royal Society of NSW, together with its Learned Academy partners, is pleased to announce that the recordings from the 2021 Forum, Power and Peril of the Digital Age, are now available on the Society's YouTube channel. This year the Forum was held online over two mornings on 4 and 5 November 2021.

The recordings can be accessed directly from our YouTube channel or from the Power and Peril of Digital Age page on the Society's website.  The latter provides links to the videos of each segment of the program and also access to the program brochure that includes summaries of each of the sessions and the biographical information about the speakers and panellists. Timing marks on each of the videos enable ready access to the individual components of each session. 


Recent Events now on YouTube: December 2021

Recorded RSNSW events now on YouTube All online events from the Royal Society of NSW are recorded and are made available for subsequent viewing on our YouTube channel,, as well as being curated on the Presentations page of this website (under the Publishing menu). 

In the final event for this year, held on 1 December 2021, Professor Richard Bryant AC FASSA FAA FAHMS, Scientia Professor of Psychology and Director of the Traumatic Stress Clinic at UNSW (Sydney), spoke on “Managing psychological distress in times of stress: the stress of COVID-19 and all that”.  In the talk, Professor Bryant spoke of key mechanisms that promote better mental health after adversity, and particularly of brief mental health programs that can be readily disseminated to people in times of need.

The link above is to a video on the Society's YouTube channel, which now includes more than 70 presentations in its library.  


Society Fellow, Veena Sahajwalla, named as 2022 NSW Australian of the Year 2022

Professor Veena SahajwallaSociety Fellow and UNSW Sydney Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla FRSN FAA FTSE was named as the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year at a ceremony held at Luna Park, Sydney on the evening of 15 November 2021. Professor Sahajwalla is a distinguished waste research engineer who is the founding director of the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT), a former Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow, and the leader of a new ARC Microrecycling Research Hub.

Professor Sahajwalla is recognised as the inventor of “green steel” manufacturing – an environmentally-friendly process for using recycled rubber tyres in steel, for which she received the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research in 2005 and the Environmental Technology Award from the Association of Iron and Steel Technology in the United States in 2006. Since then she has launched Australia’s first e-waste micro-factory in 2012 and a plastics recycling micro-factory a year later. Most recently, she has turned her attention to the development of “green ceramics”, fabricated from recycled glass and second-hand clothes, that have a stylish, designer appearance and which are being used in flooring, walling, and furniture applications.

Professor Sahajwalla’s life’s work in the recycling of waste, which is now revolutionising manufacturing, was the subject of an ABC TV Australian Story documentary earlier this year — a story that is referenced in a February 2021 RSNSW news article that links to the Australian Story documentary and various other resources on recycling. Earlier this month (November 2021), during the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, she authored a Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece, “There’s something easy we can all do to protect the earth”, urging the world to recover critical and valuable materials from waste in order to ease the pressure on key materials, sourced from mining but in finite supply and of increasing cost, that are required in the increasing electrification of our world from renewable energy sources.

The Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to Veena Sahajwalla, a true pioneer in this vital area of research and development, on the rare distinction of being named as the NSW Australian of the Year.


Society Fellows elected as 2021 Fellows of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

ASSA logo The Royal Society of NSW is delighted to learn of the recognition of four of its Fellows as new Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, elected in November 2021.  They are Professor Bernard Balleine FRSN FASSA of UNSW (Sydney), Professor Catherine Coleborne FRSN FASSA of the University of Newcastle, Emeritus Professor Andrew Jakubowicz FRSN FASSA of the University of Technology Sydney, and Professor Frans Verstraten FRSN FASSA of the University of Sydney.

Professor Bernard BalleineProfessor Bernard Balleine is a psychologist, behavioural neuroscientist, and head of one of the leading laboratories in the world in the study of the neural bases of decision-making. He and his team have discovered important features of these forms of action control at various levels of analysis, from the psychological and neural systems mediating specific functional capacities to the cellular circuits and intracellular signalling processes involved in specific neuronal plasticity and the cellular changes that support them. His laboratory was the first to reveal the importance of the cortical-basal ganglia network, involving medial prefrontal cortex and its connections with the dorsomedial striatum, in the acquisition and updating of goal-directed actions. The approach and procedures pioneered by him have had a profound influence within psychology and neuroscience as well as on computational theories of adaptive behaviour, research programs involving neuroimaging in humans, and models of human psychopathology and addiction.

Professor Catharine ColborneProfessor Catharine Coleborne is Australia's leading historian of psychiatry whose work has transformed our understanding of the past and present of mental illness and the asylum.  Her research has been consistent in creating new knowledge through histories of mental health and institutions, including advancing fresh ideas about approaches to the study of mental breakdown in the past and present.  Her scholarship has focused on the institutional populations of nineteenth-century psychiatric hospitals in Australia and New Zealand and has touched on the themes of law, medicine, welfare, migration, mobility, and colonialism. These institutions were shaped by the processes of colonialism and reflected colonial society’s anxieties and preoccupations.  Over time, her scholarship has been drawn increasingly into more contemporary projects about mental health, such as museums, collections and exhibitions; or examining lived experiences of ‘madness’ in a critical disability studies framework.

Professor Andrew JakubowiczProfessor Andrew Jakubowicz is recognised nationally and internationally as a leading scholar on multiculturalism and associated social issues, while being an innovator in the use of non-traditional media to communicate the insights and findings of sociological research. His research has focused on the relationships between power and culture, in particular, between key social institutions (including the state, education, media) and culturally diverse populations in Australia. As a public intellectual, he has been committed to communicating sociology (through online blogs, television documentaries, submissions to parliamentary inquiries, participation in government advisory bodies) as well as providing sustained public leadership and advocacy roles, contributing to policy debates and proposals for legislative innovation.

Professor Frans VerstratenProfessor Frans Verstraten is an experimental psychologist who is widely recognised for the highly successful integration of psychological research into a multi-disciplinary enterprise with fields of medicine.  Over the past two decades, Professor Verstraten has also contributed significantly to making psychology more accessible to a general audience, through participation in a nationally-broadcast television series and the writing of popular books.  In recent years, his interests have extended to the applied aspects of experimental psychology, including clinical applications.

The Council of the Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to Professors Balleine, Coleborne, Jakubowicz, and Verstraten on this recognition by the Social Sciences Academy for their achievements.


Society Fellows awarded 2021 Prime Minister's Science Prizes

Prime Minister's Science Prizes logoThe Council of the Royal Society of NSW is delighted to learn that two of its Fellows have been recognised with the two highest awards in the 2021 Prime Minister's Science Prizes in an online ceremony on 3 November 2021. They are Professor Edward Holmes FRSN FAA FRS, of the University of Sydney, who has won the 2021  Prime Minister's Prize for Science, and Professor Anthony Weiss AM FRSN FTSE, also from the University of Sydney, who has received the 2021 Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation.

The Prime Minister's Prize for Science ($250,000) recognises a significant advancement of knowledge through science, while the Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation ($250,000) recognises the innovative translation of scientific knowledge into a commercially viable product, service, or process that has led to economic, social and, where relevant, environmental benefits.

Professor Edward HolmesProfessor Holmes is a global authority on the evolution of viruses. For almost thirty years, he has pioneered the study of how viruses evolve and jump between species to spread and cause disease, including humans. Using genome sequence data, he has transformed our understanding of diseases that have affected major populations such as HIV, Ebola, and SARS. Most recently, Professor Holmes has played a transformative role in the scientific response to COVID-19, becoming the first person in the world, in early 2020, to publicly release the virus’s genome sequence. This sharing of the data was critical in helping the global response to the pandemic. It fast-tracked research efforts around the world and enabled the design of vaccines within days, saving countless lives. He is now at the forefront of research about the origins and ongoing evolution of COVID-19. The work of Professor Holmes will continue to help protect Australia from existing and undiscovered infections, leading our country and the rest of the world into a new age in biosecurity.

Professor Anthony WeissProfessor Weiss is the world’s leading authority on tropoelastin, the protein building block that gives human tissue its elasticity. For the past two decades, he has pioneered global research into tropoelastin and elastin fibres, which are found in human tissues ranging from the skin to the lungs and arteries. Elastin fibres play a significant role in the repair of the human body and this research lead our recipient to the creation of synthetic tropoelastin-based biomaterials, to accelerate and improve the repair of human tissue. In 2008, he founded the company Elastagen to commercialise his research and inventions. The company raised $35 million in venture capital and grant funding, completed clinical trials, and scaled-up production. The inventions of Professor Weiss have generated an incredible 163 granted patents in 21 patent families around the world. Ten years later, Elastagen was sold to one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies.

The Council of the Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to Professor Holmes and Weiss on the highly-deserved recognition of the outstanding research achievements and impact.

For further information and background, please see the article on the Department of Industry website that also includes a video of the online presentation ceremony.


Recent Events on YouTube: September/October 2021

Recorded RSNSW events now on YouTube All online events from the Royal Society of NSW are recorded and are made available for subsequent viewing on our YouTube channel,, as well as being curated on the Presentations page of this website (under the Publishing menu). 

In September, Dr Jessica Milner Davis FRSN treated the Society to an insight into “Taking humour and laughter seriously: Exploring the multi-disciplinary field of humour studies”, while international energy entrepreneur, Dr Saul Griffith FRSN, and former CEO of ANSTO, Dr Adi Paterson FRSN FTSE, presented a not-to-be-missed vision for the future of our energy system and the need to “electrify everything” in “Our Energy Future: Crushed Rocks”.  This was the second in a two-part series, the first of which, “Our Energy Future: Our Castles”, was presented in August.

In October, Scientia Professor Toby Walsh FRSN FAA of UNSW (Sydney) presented “Privacy and Identity in an AI world”, providing a fascinating insight into the implications and challenges for a world in which the use of artificial intelligence is increasingly prevalent.  Also in October, the Western NSW Branch of the Society presented its first lecture in collaboration with Charles Stuart University (CSU).  In this, acclaimed journalist and  CSU Vice Chancellor's Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging, Professor Stan Grant, delivered an erudite overview of the changing of the world order in his presentation  “With the Falling of the Dusk”.  

Each of the links above is to videos on the Society's YouTube channel, which now includes more than 70 presentations in its library.  


Awards to Society Fellows: October 2021

Congratulations from The Royal Society of NSW

The Council of the Royal Society of NSW was delighted to learn of two Fellows of the Society who have recently received prestigious awards.

Professor Maria Kavallaris AM FRSN FAHMS was a member of a team from the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW (Sydney) who was awarded the ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology, for the development of a highly innovative 3D bioprinter that allows cancer researchers to rapidly produce 3D cultures and build more complex in vitro cancer models than ever before.

Professor Muireann Irish FRSN, who is a cognitive neuroscientist and ARC Future Fellow at the Brain and Mind Centre of the University of Sydney, has been awarded the International Science Council Early Career Science Award for Australia and Oceania for pioneering research that shows how imagination can break down in dementia.

Congratulations to both Professors Kavallaris and Irish on this recognition of their outstanding research,


Society Fellows win prestigious awards in the chemical sciences and engineering

Scientia Professor Rose Amal and Professor Tony Weiss

The Council of the Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to two of its Fellows who have been awarded major prizes in the chemical sciences and engineering.

Scientia Professor Rose Amal AC FRSN FAA FTSE from UNSW Engineering has been awarded the 2021 Chemeca Medal by the Australian and New Zealand Federation of Chemical Engineers (ANZFChE), the most prestigious award in the chemical engineering profession in Australia and New Zealand, for world-leading research in the fields of fine particle technology, photocatalysis and functional nanomaterials. Professor Amal's work has profound implications for solar and chemical energy conversion applications such as treating water, purifying air, and generating renewable hydrogen economically and sustainably.

Professor Tony Weiss AM FRSN FTSE of the University of Sydney School of Life and Environmental Sciences has been awarded the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Weichkardt Medal for his work that has made a significant contribtion to the Australian economy through chemistry. Professor Weiss is a leader in the development of elastin biomaterials that are used in medical settings.


Society Fellows as finalists in the 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Awards

Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Logo A number of Society Fellows are amongst the Finalists of the 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Awards—the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science. Presented annually in partnership with some of the nation’s leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations, the Eureka Prizes raise the profile of science and science engagement in the community by celebrating outstanding achievement.

Amongst the finalists in this year’s Prizes are:

  • Professor Raina Macintyre FRSN — a member of the U-Breathe team from UNSW, nominated for the 2021 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
  •  Professor Justin Gooding FRSN FAA FTSE and Professor Maria Kavallaris AM FRSN FAHMS of UNSW Sydney,  Australian Centre for NanoMedicine, and the Children’s Cancer Institute, nominated for the 2021 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
  • Professor Maria Kavallaris AM FRSN of UNSW Sydney and the Children’s Cancer Institute, nominated for the 2021 Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
  • Professor Karu Esselle FRSN, nominated for the 2021 University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize For Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
  • Professor Veena Sahajwalla FRSN FAA FTSE of UNSW Sydney, nominated for the Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science

The Awards will be announced at an online ceremony on the evening of 7 October 2021.


Vale Edric Chaffer

Edrich Chaffer

The Society is saddened to learn of the death on 6 September 2021 of Mr Edric Chaffer, a former President of the Society. He was 88 years old.

Edric Keith Chaffer was one of the longest-serving stalwarts of the Society, dedicating much of his life to its well-being. Joining as a student in 1954, he later served on Council for many years and was Honorary Secretary from 1970–1971 and President in 1975. He was a member of the Council that steered the Society through some of its most turbulent times, including the forced vacation of Science House and Science Centre, and the relocation of its library. His enduring interests were history, science, geology and engineering.

In 1949, while still at school, he attended a lecture on geology given by the Society and that stimulated his life-long interest in the subject. As a result, he was able to persuade his school, Knox Grammar, to allow him to study geology as a sole independent student for the Leaving Certificate as the subject was not offered at that school. He was rewarded with Honours in the subject in 1950. His extensive rock collection still exists.

When he became President of the Society in 1975 he was obliged to nominate his discipline – he chose geology over his profession, tanning. He worked in his father’s tanning business in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore by day and studied geology by night at Sydney Technical College, where he later lectured on the subject. However, his Presidential Address to the Society was entitled ‘Leather: why is it so?’. He stated that the most important lesson to be learned from life was how to think.

His generosity to the Society was boundless, exemplified by his donation of the refurbished boardroom armchairs and table to the Society, facilitated through his family-owned and operated tannery. He was often present in the Society’s rooms helping in whatever way he could.

In June this year he took part in the ‘Presidents’ Reflections’ interviews prepared for the Society’s NEXUS Exhibition at the State Library of NSW. He commented at that time that he had always been very fond of the Society because of its multi-disciplinarity. In 1976 he was awarded the Royal Society of New South Wales Medal for services to science and the Society. He was extremely proud of this award, which was mentioned at his funeral held on 20 September 2021.


Distinguished Fellow, Michelle Simmons, awarded Royal Society Bakerian Medal

Scientia Professor Michell Simmons AO FRS DistFRSNFrom Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN, President of the Royal Society of NSW

On behalf of the Royal Society of NSW, I extend wholehearted congratulations to one of our Distinguished Fellows, Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons AO FRS DistFRSN FAA of UNSW (Sydney), on being awarded the Bakerian Medal and Lecture 2020 by the Royal Society. Professor Simmons has been recognised for “her seminal contributions to our understanding of nature at the atomic scale by creating a sequence of world-first quantum electronic devices in which individual atoms control device behaviour.”

The Royal Society’s Bakerian Medal and Lecture is its premier lecture in the physical sciences. The lectureship was established through a bequest by Henry Baker FRS of £100 for “an oration or discourse on such part of natural history or experimental philosophy, at such time and in such manner as the President and Council of the Society, for the time being, shall please to order and appoint”. The lecture series began in 1775. The medal is of silver gilt, is awarded annually, and is accompanied by a gift of £10,000.

Professor Simmons is the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) at UNSW Sydney, and also the founder of Australia’s first quantum computing company, Silicon Quantum Computing. Her achievements have been recognised by numerous prizes and fellowships. She has been recognised by the American Computer Museum as a pioneer in quantum computing, awarded the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, and named as the 2017 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Asia-Pacific Laureate in the Physical Sciences. Professor Simmons was named Australian of the Year and admitted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of London in 2018, while in 2019 she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). She is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW.

Speaking to UNSW News, Professor Simmons said that "few things have given her greater pleasure than hearing she was awarded the Bakerian Medal and that she will give the Bakerian Lecture. The Bakerian Medal means a great deal to me. The previous winners have been some truly inspirational individuals."

To read further, please see the announcement on the Royal Society website, an article in the UNSW Newsroom, and also an article (4 September 2021) in the Sydney Morning Herald.


Recent Events on YouTube: August 2021

Recorded RSNSW events now on YouTube All online events from the Royal Society of NSW are recorded and are made available for subsequent viewing on our YouTube channel,, as well as being curated on the Presentations page of this website (under the Publishing menu). 

Amongst the most recent events are Music as a Superfood presented as part of the [email protected] series by renowned writer, broadcaster, psychologist, and operatic soprano, Greta Bradman on 22 July 2021, and The Intimate History of Evolution: The Huxleys 1825–1975, presented on 4 August 2021 by noted historian Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FRHistS FBA of UNSW (Sydney).

In Music as a Superfood, Greta Bradman discusses how music can help us live longer, sleep better, calm down, find flow, and feel happier.  Regrettably, due to rights restrictions, the YouTube recording is available only until 21 October.

In The Intimate History of Evolution: The Huxleys 1825–1975 Alison Bashford explores the contribution of Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) and his grandson Julian Huxley (1887–1975) in communicating to the world the great modern story of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Thomas Huxley, a mid-nineteenth century natural scientist was Darwin’s most outspoken spokesman, while Julian Huxley, a well-known mid-twentieth century science writer, zoologist, conservationist, was that generation’s David Attenborough. Together, they were ‘trustees of evolution’, a phrase that Julian Huxley often used to describe all of humankind, but which Alison Bashford uses to describe the Huxleys themselves. 





Meet the Fellows: a series of 3-minute videos

Royal Society of NSW The Society is pleased to introduce a new initiative titled Meet the Fellows comprising a series of 3-minute video interviews with Fellows, commencing with those who have been elected most recently.  

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, drawing 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.

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. We hope that these videos will help to bridge that gap.

Further information can be found on the Meet the Fellows page, while the videos, which will be referred to on our social media accounts, are accessible from our YouTube channel,, in the Meet the Fellows playlist.

8 August 2021






Society launches its Twitter account

RSNSW social media accountsThe Society is pleased to announce the launch of its Twitter account today (3 August 2021) in this its bicentennial year.  The Society is now active on three social media platforms, Twitter (@royalsocnsw), YouTube (royalsocnsw), and Facebook (@royalsoc), with these to be followed shortly by a presence on LinkedIn. 

Please consider following us on these channels to stay informed about Royal Society of NSW events and news.



New Stewardship of Country Proceedings

A resprouting treeDuring February and March of 2021, the Royal Societies of Australia in partnership with Inspiring Victoria presented an online symposium in three parts titled Stewardship of Country. These presentations aimed to elevate a broad range of perspectives, generating discussion on landscape and environmental management that bridges Indigenous, agricultural, scientific, economic, and social perspectives, with support for practical action and the public good.

Eleven presentations were delivered across multiple domains of land management practice and scholarly expertise, representing a historic collaboration between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts, industry practitioners and thinkers, and convened under the auspices of the Royal Societies of Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, with support from the CSIRO.  Of these eleven presentations, six were submitted for publication and now comprise a Special Issue of the Proceeding of the Royal Society of Victoria, which is now online and available at no cost.

These papers are well worth reading and, in the words of Dr Nelson Quinn of the Law Futures Centre of Griffith University:

‘We do not need to wait until everyone has accepted and understood the obligation of custodianship or until all our laws and institutions are reformed. We can act now, collectively and individually. Every small change we make adds to all the others — forming, eventually, big changes. We can act collaboratively, immediately magnifying the changes any one of us can make.’


Society Fellow awarded the Genetics Society of Australasia MJD White Medal

Professor Kathy Belov AOThe Council of the Royal Society of NSW warmly congratulates one of its Fellows, Professor Kathy Belov AO FRSN of the University of Sydney, on being awarded the MJD White Medal of the Genetics Society of Australasia (GSA).  The award, which commemorates Michael White who proposed the formation of the Genetics Society in 1953, recognises excellence and a lifetime of achievement in genetics research. 

Professor Belov, who is the Professor of Comparative Genomics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) at the University of Sydney, and a current member of the Council of the Royal Society of NSW, has guided the University's Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group for 15 years. 

Her team is leading the genetic rescue of our most iconic and loved native animals, starting with Tasmanian devils, which suffer from a transmissible and deadly cancer called devil facial tumour disease.  Professor Belov's group is also responsible for steering the world-first full sequencing of the koala genome following the recent completion of the mapping of the echidna genome and improving the information available on the platypus genome.  Such genetic data is particularly valuable in advancing conservation efforts, aiding in the treatment of diseases, and helping to ensure the long-term survival of our native animals.

For further information about Professor Belov's research, please see the University of Sydney website.  


Vale Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Emeritus Professor E James Kehoe FRSN

Emeritus Professor James Kehoe FRSNThe Royal Society of NSW records with great regret the passing of one of its valued Fellows, Emeritus Professor Jim Kehoe FRSN, on 15 July 2021.

A senior academic from the School of Psychology at UNSW, Jim became a Fellow of the Society in 2012 and contributed in many ways to the expansion of the society in the mid-2010s. He was an enthusiastic member of the Council (2016 to 2018) and offered his publishing skills to the Society by editing the Bulletin from 2015 to 2017. He continued and nurtured our association with the Chief Scientist and Engineer of NSW and the yearly meeting of Deans of Science and Engineering to advise the Awards Committee as Chair of the Awards Committee from 2016 to 2019. Professor Kehoe’s activities for the RSNSW were recognised by the Citation of the Society in 2019.

Jim was a behavioural neuroscientist who researched associative learning, instructional design, using neural network models, and computer-based learning. He was a senior officer in the Australian Army Reserve, advising on character and values, and teamwork and leadership development. He had a black belt in, and was a teacher of, karate.


Society Fellow awarded Ecological Society of Australia Gold Medal

Professor Richard KingsfordThe Council of the Royal Society of NSW warmly congratulates one of its Fellows, Professor Richard Kingsford FRSN of UNSW Sydney, on being awarded a Gold Medal by the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) for 2021.  The Gold Medals awarded each year by the ESA recognise the impact of the work of leading Australian ecologists.

Professor Kingsford, who is a river ecologist and conservation biologist, and Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at UNSW Sydney, has made a significant contribution to understanding the impact of water resource developments on rivers and wetlands. He has worked extensively across the wetlands and rivers of the Murray-Darling and Lake Eyre Basins and leads the Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey, running since 1983 and spanning approximately one-third of the continent. This survey provides one of Australia’s most important long-term datasets on the health and biodiversity of the country’s river and wetland areas.  Recently, he has also led a study on the impact of dams on downstream platypus populations, resulting in a submission for threatened species status for the platypus.

In a lecture titled “Murray-Darling Basin turmoil: past, present, and future”, Professor Kingsford spoke on these very topics at a recent online meeting of the Royal Society of NSW.  A recording of this presentation is available on the Society's YouTube channel.    

To learn more about this award, please see the announcement on the UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.  

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