Sydney meetings - 2019 - The Royal Society of NSW - Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Women and Science: Lecture 7

Women and Science: Lecture 7      “An Accidental Astronomer”

    Emeritus Professor Anne Green


Date: Thursday, 21 November 2019, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

An Accidental Astronomer

As one of the first women radio astronomers, Anne Green faced unexpected challenges in undertaking panoramic and detailed surveys of the Milky Way Galaxy. Anne will track her career trajectory alongside the evolution of the Molonglo Radio Telescope that has been a pioneering astronomical instrument for more than 50 years. Anne’s journey has produced some exciting discoveries and rewarding collaborations in the study of the structure and ecology of the Galaxy, and has also encompassed observations with several of the world’s most powerful telescopes.

Emeritus Professor Anne Green FTSE FASA FAIP FRSN

Anne Green is presently an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney. She is a graduate in physics from both Melbourne and Sydney Universities. Following her graduate studies at Sydney, she was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn, Germany. Restarting her academic career at Sydney University after a 15 year pause for family and community work in Europe, she joined the School of Physics and progressed from post-doc to professor. During this period, she was Director of the Molonglo Telescope and was appointed as the first female Head of the School of Physics. She has been on numerous national and international astronomy advisory committees, including as President of the Astronomical Society of Australia, and Chair of Astronomy Australia Ltd. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Astronomical Society of Australia, the Australian Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of NSW, and President of the Physics Foundation. Internationally, she is a Member of the Science Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy and has had a role in the early development of the powerful new radio-telescope, the Square Kilometre Array. She was the inaugural co-Chair of the Women in Astronomy Working Group of the International Astronomical Union for six years. Her research career spans 30 years in radio astronomy, studying the structure and ecology of the Milky Way Galaxy and its various constituents. In particular, her discoveries include supernova remnants, astrophysical masers and more recently, cosmological sparklers. She has a career total of over 200 papers with more than 6000 citations and has been a Chief Investigator on grants worth nearly $12 million. Most recently, the Astronomical Society of Australia has established the Anne Green Prize to be awarded to a mid-career scientist for a significant body of work or accomplishment.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

Joint AIP, RSNSW and RACI Open Lecture 2019

Professor Jodie Bradby
   Diamonds and High Pressure Physics
   Professor Jodie Bradby

   The Australian National University

Joint Open Lecture of the Australian Institute of Physics, Royal Society of NSW, and Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Date: Tuesday 12 November 2019, 6.30pm
Venue: University of Technology Sydney, Building 1 (Broadway), Level 4 (ground level from Broadway), Room 6 (northwestern corner of the building)

Carbon is an amazing element that is well-known to crystallize, both as hard and transparent diamond and as soft and opaque graphite. Whilst both these forms of carbon have a range of technologically interesting properties, diamond is particularly remarkable from a technological perspective due to its unique mechanical properties. The ability of diamond to withstand extreme pressure is key for many high-pressure physics experiments. In this talk. Professor Bradby will outline some of the history of the field of high-pressure physics, discuss two methods for synthetic diamond formation (including an overview of the state-of-the-art of diamond growth), and then outline some of her recent work using diamonds to create extreme pressures for new material formation.

Jodie Bradby is a professor in the Research School of Physicsand Engineering at the Australian National University where she leads a group in high pressure physics. She is the current President of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP). She holds a B. App. Sc. (Physics) degree from RMIT in Melbourne Australia, and completed a PhD on ‘Nanoindentation-induced deformation of semiconductors’ at the Australian National University in 2003. As a student, Jodie was awarded a Gold in the Materials Research Societies’ Graduate Student competition in 2002 and is a past recipient of the Philips Cowley-Moodie Award for Australian Electron Microscopy. After completing her doctorate, Jodie was awarded a Sir Keith Murdoch American-Australian Education Fellowship, which funded a project based at Case Western Reserve University in the USA. On her return to Australia, she commenced an Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship and then an ARC QEII fellowship followed by a Future Fellowship (2014-2017). She has held several ARC grants, including Linkage Projects with a start-up company which was formed as a result of her doctoral work. She has published over 100 papers and three patents. She was the AIP Women in Physics Lecturer during 2015.

 

RSNSW and the Four Academies Forum 2019

Forum Brochure Cover Making SPACE for Australia

Government House, Sydney
7 November 2019



Report by the Forum Convenors:
     Emer. Prof. Roy MacLeod FRSN
             and
     Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN

This year’s Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum devoted to the subject of ‘Making Space for Australia’ drew together, in one day, authoritative voices from the natural, technological and social sciences and the humanities, to consider a range of issues that are likely to inform Australian public policy and public opinion in the decades ahead.

Forum 2019 Governor and Students Held like the four previous Forums, under the gracious Vice Regal Patronage of the Governor of New South Wales and in the ballroom of Government House, Sydney, the inclusive gathering of 140 people represented the Royal Society of NSW, the four Learned Academies, and guests from a cross-section of the space community, including 13 undergraduate students from diverse Faculties across six universities and studying various aspects of space.

Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO, QC, Governor of NSW, reflected during her opening remarks on Australia’s long interest in reading the Heavens, beginning with the earliest Aboriginal observations and understanding of the constellations and their configurations.

Introduced by Professor Anne Green, Chair of the NSW Division of ATSE, the Keynote speaker, Professor Lisa Kewley, emphasized Australia’s strengths in space science while taking us on a tour of the Universe. The next session, Australia in the Space Age , moderated by Professor Jane Hall, President of the Academy of the Social Sciences, heard papers by the space historian and curator, Kerrie Dougherty on ‘Sixty Years of Australia in Space,’ by Dr Megan Clark (Director of the Australian Space Agency), on the Agency and its work; by Dr Kimberley Clayfield, on CSIRO’s ‘Roadmap for Space’; and by Dr Adam Lewis, of Geoscience Australia, on ‘Seeing and Sensing Australia from Space.’

Dr Donna Lawler, Principal of Azimuth Advisory, moderated the session devoted to Space Law, Security and Ethics. Prof Steven Freeland, the distinguished international Space lawyer, summarized the ‘Limits of Law’ in Space, and Dr Ben Piggott of UNSW Canberra reminded us of the military and geopolitical dimensions of Space policy. Dr Nikki Coleman, RAAF chaplain and Space ethicist, explored the ‘Ethical Challenges in Space: Norms and Conventions in Peaceful Spacefaring.’

A third session, expertly conducted by Ms Annie Handmer, historian of science of Sydney University, on Space and People , highlighted key themes in what is fast becoming the ‘humanities of Space’, with papers by Jonathan Webb, of the ABC, on the ‘Promise and Peril of Space’; by Dr Alice Gorman, of Flinders University, on ‘Space Heritage: Artefacts and Archaeology’ (both now challenged by the profusion of Space debris); a theme capped by the writer and novelist Ceridwen Dovey, on ‘Human Visions and Visitors in Space’.

The final session, Australia's Space Economy moderated by Dr Susan Pond AM, Chair of the NSW Smart Sensing Network, brought us back to Earth, welcoming William Barrett, Senior VP of Asia Pacific Space consultants, who addressed Australia’s promising Space Industry, then Paul Scully-Power, AM, one of Australia’s pioneering astronauts, speaking about the challenge presented by ‘Space 2.0: Small Space Satellite’s’. Finally, Group Captain Jason Lind, explained the role that Defence must and is playing in supporting Australia’s Space industry.

Our rapporteur, Dr Brett Biddington, AM, of Canberra, skillfully summarized the day. He reminded the audience that by a unique combination of history, science, and geography, Australia occupies an important place on the front line of continuing discoveries in Space. He noted the tension between the civil and the defence realms in space as well as an even bigger tension emerging between public and private investment in space.

Judging from the RSNSW’s customary post-conference Survey, the Forum met the challenges of the day, inciting a wide range of questions that continued long after the proceedings ended. At the same time, it foreshadowed a number of fresh questions that may well be asked by academics, governments, and the public at large and at future RSNSW events.

To paraphrase CP Snow, Australia has the future in its sights, and SPACE holds great prospects for the next generation. Bearing a distinguished 50-year history of Space engagement and blessed with major Space-related facilities across the country, Australia can play a far-reaching role in the coming years, not only in science and technology but also in law and ethics.

We are reminded, in celebrating this 50th year since Apollo 11, that the Astronauts left a plaque on the moon that said, ‘We came in peace for all Mankind’. The adventure that lies before us is one in which Australia accepts both the challenge and its responsibilities. We can only hope that this sentiment guides our destiny, our fullest achievement, and remains our uppermost goal.

1278th OGM and Open Lecture

Herbert Huppert
   The Beginning of Weather Forecasting:
   Matthew Maury, Robert FitzRoy FRS, and
   L. F. Richardson FRS
  
   Professor Herbert Huppert FRS FRSN
   University of Cambridge

Joint RSNSW OGM and Open Lecture & Australian Academy of Science’s Selby Public Lecture 2019

Date: Wednesday 6 November 2019, 6pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (enter by Shakespeare Place)

We, with our ancestors, have often lived with unpredicted changes in the weather, even quite dramatic changes. For social and financial reasons it would be extremely beneficial to have accurate weather forecasts — over both land and sea. Quantitative forecasts, not just that it will be relatively hot in summer and cold in winter, were not introduced until the mid 1800’s. How this came about, the individuals whose imagination and hard work made it possible and a short description of the (difficult) physical principles governing the often turbulent motions on many different spatial scales of the atmosphere will be summarized.

Professor Herbert Huppert FRS is Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Geophysics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. His theoretical and laboratory based work has improved our understanding of the behaviour of fluids in and on the Earth’s surface, and his work on convective systems has been crucial for an improved comprehension of our planet’s response to a changing climate. Often in demand as a scientific authority, Herbert served as Chair of a Royal Society working group on bioterrorism, which prepared a report for the British Government, a European Academies working group on Carbon Capture and Storage, which prepared a report for the European Parliament and has acted as an adviser to numerous other government bodies. He has received many awards for his work, including the Bakerian Lectureship of the Royal Society, a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship and The Australian Academy’s Selby Public Lectureship 2019.

 

Women and Science: Lecture 6

Women and Science: Lecture 6     “Women at the Frontiers of Biotech”

    Dr Susan Pond


Date: Thursday, 17 October 2019, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Women at the Frontiers of Biotech

Susan Pond outlined how biotechnology is being put to use for the good of humanity and the planet, and examined the role of women in this revolution from the time of Rosalind Franklin’s famous Photo 51 in 1952 through to today. Franklin’s work was fundamental to the celebrated revelation of the twisted ladder of the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick in 1953. This opened the floodgates to a revolution in biology and to Nobel Prizes being awarded to 13 women since 1964. Susan also looked forward to future applications and reviewed some of the challenges involved in putting nature’s machinery to work.

Susan Pond AM FTSE FAHMS FRSN

Susan Pond has a deep scientific and commercial background in biotechnology through her executive and non-executive roles during the last 20 years and current appointments. Susan has a first-class honours degree in Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Sydney and Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of New South Wales. She held professorial appointments at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Queensland before joining industry. She was recognized as one of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Top 100 Women of Influence in 2013 and is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of NSW.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

Women and Science: Lecture 5

Women and Science     “Electricity, astronomy, and natural history:
    from colonial Sydney to Royal Sweden, and
    a ladies' academy of science in between”

    Anne Harbers


Date: Monday 23 September 2019, 6pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

What did Fanny Macleay in colonial Sydney in 1826 have in common with the Dutch Golden Age painter Rachel Ruysch (1634-1750) and even the royal Queen Lovisa Ulrika of Sweden (1720–1782)?

Fanny would have been welcomed to The First Women’s Academy of Science – The Ladies Society of Natural Sciences in Middleburg, Holland that met for over 100 years.

Each of these women played a role within their families and societies but also had a drive for seeking scientific knowledge through their own sense of enquiry. In this talk, the links and evidence will be examined to learn of the depth and energy these women gave to their scientific learning in parallel with the other achievements in their lives.

Anne Harbers

An experienced presenter and writer in Art History with postgraduate qualifications, Anne is currently working towards a PhD in Dutch 17th century art, Anne lectures regularly to museums, antique study groups and art history conferences in the USA and Europe as well as the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Trust. For 25 years, Anne worked in global companies in biotechnology and medical research in Australia, Asia and Europe with postgraduate qualifications in Chemistry by Research and an MBA.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

Sci-Fi Series - The future is here.

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Sci-Fi Series - The future is here. 

Date: Thursday, 19 September 2019
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Venue: Australian National Maritime Museum (Tasman Light Gallery and Theatre)
            2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney

This series of lectures, Sci-Fi Series – Future Planet was presented by  a panel of leading UNSW experts including the receipient of the Royal Society of NSW Medal, Professor Emma Johnson AO FRSN.

With each year bringing substantial new feats in scientific exploration and discovery, this series provides fascinating insights into how Science Fiction is fast becoming reality, with a panel of UNSW experts presenting their work spanning reefs, weather and technology.  

Footage of the first Sci Fi Series – Future Health is now available.

Speakers included:



Professor Emma Johnston AO

Dean of Science, UNSW Sydney

RSNSW Clarke Medal Recipient
”The Flying Eyes: How ecologists are using new technology to see hidden worlds”


Professor Andy Pitman 
Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes
"The day after tomorrow: What does climate change mean for us?"


Associate Professor Tracy Ainsworth
Scientia Fellow, Centre for Marine Science & Innovation (CMSI)
"Deep Blue Sea: Solving the coral reefs crisis"

 

1277th OGM and Open Lecture

peter godfrey smith   Bodies and Minds in Animal Evolution

  Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith
  The University of Sydney


Date: Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

Charting the evolution of different kinds of animal bodies helps us understand the evolution of the mind – both the varieties of minds that might exist, and how minds could arise at all through natural processes. Cephalopods, including octopuses, are an especially interesting case in bodily and behavioral evolution. Peter described octopus behaviors at field sites in NSW and how, In other ways, too, Australia has a special place in the deep history of animal life.

Peter Godfrey-Smith grew up in Sydney, and his undergraduate degree is from the University of Sydney. He studied for a PhD in philosophy at UC San Diego, and then taught at Stanford University, the Australian National University, Harvard University, and the CUNY Graduate Center before taking up his present post as Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. He is the author of five books, including Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection (Oxford, 2009), which won the 2010 Lakatos Award, and Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

 

1276th OGM & open lecture

HP 
  “Physicians as public intellectuals: Indonesian
  physicians in the Dutch East Indies”

  Professor Hans Pols FRSN
  Head, School of History
  and Philosophy of Science
  University of Sydney


Date: Wednesday 4 September 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

Through their studies, their medical practice, and their participation in the Association of Indonesian Physicians, Indonesian physicians in the Dutch East Indies developed and articulated a strong professional identity. The promises of modern medicine were important elements of this professional identity and motivated these physicians to develop critical perspectives on colonial society. They participated in social and cultural movements, and became members of city councils and the colonial parliament, wrote in newspapers frequently, and published magazines. In this paper, he discusses the social and political engagement of several generations of Indonesian physicians. At various times, they criticised traditional culture, advocated public health measures and increases in funding for health, criticised income disparities between Indonesian and European physicians, criticised traditional culture or embraced it as a model for an alternate modernity for Indonesia. During the process of decolonisation, they transformed colonial medicine into a modern approach to maintain health, inspired by examples and connections all over the world.

This presentation is based on Hans Pols book Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Hans Pols FRNS is Professor and Head of School of the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on the history of medicine in the Dutch East Indies.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) talk 

Imagine, there is something wrong with your skin – it has no hairs, no pores, no blood vessels, you cannot even sweat to bring your temperature down. That’s what happened on the scar tissues on burn patients. Burns are global health issues and life changing events. The main goal of my PhD project is to construct artificial skin substitutes to address the issue of skin substitute shortage, as well as exploring how to minimize scar formation, eventually improving the quality of life.

This month's presentation is by Miss Lingzhi Kang, a final year PhD students at the University of Wollongong. She is working on "Biofabricated platforms for wound healing and skin regeneration" supervised by Distinguished Professor Gordon Wallace. Lingzhi is the 2019 People's Choice Winner of Three Minute Thesis at the University of Wollongong. She obtained her master degree at Shandong University doing research on vascular regeneration & tissue engineering and bachelor degree of Biomedical Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China.

UNSW Centre for Ideas event

Elizabeth Blackburn  “The telomere effect”

  Professor Elizabeth Blackburn
  AC FAA FRS DistFRSN
  Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  University of California San Francisco

Friday 16 August 2019, 6.30pm
City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place, Sydney

Cost: $35 without discount, $25 for RSNSW Members and Fellows, and for UNSW alumni and staff, $15 for UNSW students and under-18s (plus booking fee on-line or by phone)

To buy tickets: click here.

Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn delivers the inaugural Gerald Westheimer Lecture, chaired by UNSW Sydney’s Dean of Science, Professor Emma Johnston.

Why does ageing take such different paths for different individuals?  Why do some of us remain healthy and active into later life, while others age more rapidly?  Elizabeth Blackburn’s discoveries about telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes, have transformed the way we think about these important questions and earned her a Nobel Prize in 2009.  Although we have long understood the impact of our genetic inheritance on our health, Blackburn’s work has shown us the key role that telomeres and the enzyme telomerase play in the ageing process.

Be part of a special event with Elizabeth Blackburn as she discusses her work in this fascinating space and its implications for the future of ageing.

This talk is part of the Sydney Science Festival, and is supported by the Crawford Fund and Science & Technology Australia.

Gerald Westheimer Lectureship

The Gerald Westheimer Lecture is a new biennial lecture series for UNSW Science thanks to a generous gift from Professor Gerald Westheimer AM FRS.  This flagship initiative will invite eminent international researchers to spend time in residence at the University.

Elizabeth Blackburn

Dr Elizabeth Blackburn has been a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research, having discovered the molecular nature of telomeres – the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information – and co-discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase.  She is also known for her championing of diversity and inclusion in the sciences.  Blackburn and her research team also collaborate in a range of investigations of the roles of telomere biology in human health and diseases, through clinical and other human studies.  Born in Australia, Dr Blackburn earned degrees from the University of Melbourne, University of Cambridge and Yale University.  She has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for Basic Medical Research, and in 2007 was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

National Science Week 2019: talk 4

Complex Systems - Computer Modelling of Epidemics  “Computer modelling of epidemics”

  Professor Mikhail Prokopenko

Thursday 15 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

Complex systems – including such things as power and data grids, communication and transport systems, social networks, ecosystems and the spread of disease – evolve and ‘self-organise’ over time, resulting in both benefits and challenges.

Influenza pandemics, for example, emerge at unpredictable intervals. Several major infections have occurred during the last 100 years, including the 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish Flu”) that infected an estimated 500 million people — one-third of the world’s population! — and caused an estimated 50 million deaths. An influenza pandemic today, of the magnitude of the 1918 Spanish Flu, would cause 33 million deaths globally within six months.

Professor Prokopenko reveals how the development of very realistic computer models of our world helps us better understand and better deal with complex problems like flu epidemics. Recent research has indicated that the more urbanised society is, the more vulnerable it is to the spread of disease due to increased population in major cities and international air traffic. This, in turn, helps us identify the best ways to intervene and curtail pandemics through the management of our cities.

 Mikhail ProkopenkoProfessor Mikhail Prokopenko has a strong international reputation in complex self-organising systems, with more than 180 publications, patents and edited books. Since 2014, he has been the Director of the Complex Systems Research Group (Faculty of Engineering and IT) at the University of Sydney. He also leads the post-graduate program on Complex Systems, including Master of Complex Systems.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

National Science Week 2019: talk 3

Art Punters Freak Me Out Josh Harle  “Machine aesthetics of the human
  body”

  Dr Josh Harle

Thursday 15 August 2019, 12.30pm to 1.30
Venue: Mitchell Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney
Cost: free
Click here for more information

It’s natural for us to see through a human lens. When we look out into the world we see it populated by the familiar: animals and devices imbued with human emotion and agency.

With the rapid development and adoption of artificial intelligence and autonomous robotics, their humanoid faces may give us comfort, but beneath the facade they look back with a machine perspective. While we anthropomorphise them, they are ‘mechanomorphising’ us – seeing us as machines.

From surgical robot models, crash test dummies, sex robots, to automated battlefield drones and guns and the ethics algorithms of self-driving cars, machines uniquely perceive us according to their own internal ‘aesthetics’. These functional abstractions are the result of military strategy, politics, and business logic, along with the baked-in, implicit worldview of their creators. Many of these are also deeply and disconcertingly alien to our idea of human.

Art can help critique these models; it’s all about exploring speculative ways of perceiving, understanding, and representing the world.

Researcher and artist Dr Josh Harle explores how artists working at the intersection with technology and science can help us meaningfully engage with complex systems, giving us a more critical perspective on the future of these technologies. Moreover, rather than being relegated to the realm of ‘visual communication’, art can provide a valuable and timely contribution to research.

John HarleDr Josh Harle is the director of Tactical Space Lab, and a current Visiting Fellow at UNSW. His doctoral thesis combined study in Computer Science and Cybernetics, Philosophy, and Art to investigate how digital technology is used to makes sense of the world. ‘Human Jerky’, shown at Verge Gallery in 2018 and curated by researcher and artist Dr Josh Harle, illustrated the monstrous, alien, and frankly terrifying visions of the Human that emerging technologies use through the related practices of five artists.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Poggendorff Lecture 2019

Robert Parks
  “Cereal killers: how plant diseases affect food
  security”

  Professor Robert Park
  School of Life and Environmental Sciences
  University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 14 August 2019, 5.30 for 6–7 pm
Venue: Level 5 Function Room, Building F23, University of Sydney (new building on left entering from City Road).

Cereal plants are incredibly important – they are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other crop. We’ve been domesticating cereal plants for around 8000 years and our efforts to develop better yielding and disease resistant crops has had the negative effect of guiding the evolution of crop pathogens. We’ve inadvertently made new pathogen strains emerge that have at times caused crop failure and famine.

Find out how problems of inadequate food supply, the world’s increasing population and the emergence of new crop diseases are presenting significant challenges in ensuring adequate supplies of safe and nutritious food for all.

Professor Robert Park will reveal how plant diseases affect our very existence and the work his team does in developing new genetic approaches for sustainable and environmentally friendly crop disease control.

2018 Poggendorff Lecturer – Professor Robert Park

The 2018 Poggendorff Lectureship was awarded to Professor Robert F. Park, from the University of Sydney, by the Royal Society of NSW. A plant pathologist, Professor Park holds the Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences. He is Director of the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, which conducts research on the genetics and pathology of rust diseases of cereals. This program has a huge impact on agricultural production globally; in Australia alone, it conservatively returns some $600 million to the economy each year.

Poggendorff Lectureship

The Poggendorff Lectureship is awarded periodically by the Royal Society of NSW for research in plant biology and more broadly agriculture. Walter Poggendorff was recognised as one of the major figures in establishing the Australian rice industry, developing high-yield crops for Australian conditions and maintaining controls on imports to limit the introduction of serious diseases. When he died in 1981, he made a bequest to the Royal Society of NSW to fund a lecture award series.

National Science Week 2019: talk 2

Matthew Flinders Terra Australis cropped  “Unexpected results - Australian
  science to 1950”

  Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy
  AM FRSN

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

Robert Clancy reveals the fascinating history of scientific research and discovery in Australia before 1950.  Informed and inspired by the spirit of the Enlightenment, it helped shape our nation from colonial times onwards.

Science in Europe was very different to 19th century Australia.  Our less stratified society, consisting of a mixture of convicts and immigrants, was about being prepared to ‘have a go’ in a remote and harsh land.  Ordinary men and women survived and forged ahead by solving problems using scientific methods.

The view that colonial and early 20th century science largely consisted of collecting and dispatching trophies of our unique natural history off to Britain is inaccurate.  Rather, the science of the time was born of pragmatism, and this has laid the foundations for the development of ‘modern science’ in Australia. The question is, what can we learn from these past lessons?

From Cook and Banks, to the Horn Expedition to central Australia in 1894; from Lawrence Hargrave’s flight experiments and John Tebbutt’s detection of new comets; to many other extraordinary yet often unknown people, the Enlightenment provides a mirror against which the development of science in Australia – and the development of our culture – can be understood.

Robert ClancyEmeritus Professor Robert Llewellyn Clancy is a leading Australian clinical immunologist and a pioneer in the field of mucosal immunology, known for his research and development of therapies for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), commonly known as emphysema.  Professor Clancy is Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy.  Alongside his professional medical interests, Professor Clancy has long been involved in historical research, particularly in the areas of medical history and cartographic history.  He has also developed a ‘History of Medicine’ course through the College of Physicians.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

National Science Week 2019: talk 1

Australian Night Sky - Aboriginal Astronomy “Aboriginal astronomy”

 Dr Ragbir Bhathal FRSN

Monday 12 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

For over 60,000 years the Aboriginal peoples of Australia have both studied the stars and named them, with constellations having different names and stories in different regions.  Last year the International Union (IAU), the peak scientific body for astronomers recognized some of their named stars and included them in the official catalogue of stars.

Dr Ragbir Bhathal discusses various aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander astronomy how and its cultural uses such as finding food, telling the seasons and knowing when to conduct ceremonies.  Although Aboriginal astronomy has clashed with Australia’s dominant culture, their knowledge of the stars and constellations has been valuable in substantiating and winning land rights.

Ragbir BhathalDr Ragbir Bhathal served as a UNESCO consultant on museums/science centres, was the director of the Singapore Science Centre, one of four science centres of influence in the 20th century, and is a distinguished teaching fellow at the Western Sydney University.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and the Royal Astronomical Society London, and a visiting fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The Australian National University.  Apart from his research in astrophysics, he also carries out research in Aboriginal astronomy and engineering education.  He has written 15 books, including two on Aboriginal astronomy.  He is in great demand for giving public lectures both in Australia and overseas.  His astronomy work on OSETI was featured in the international magazine Forbes, which has a circulation of over 1 million copies worldwide.  Dr Bhathal is a vocal advocate for an Australian museum dedicated to this country’s first peoples, a museum whose sole task is to tell the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and politics.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

1275th OGM and open lecture

Peter Shergold  “Democracy under challenge:
  how can we restore a sense of citizenship?”

  Professor Peter Shergold AC FRSN
  Chancellor, Western Sydney University

Wednesday 7 August 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

As in many liberal democracies, there is an increasing sense of concern in Australia that representative government is starting to erode from within - trust in political institutions is declining (especially amongst the young), consensus is fragmenting, populist responses are on the rise and ‘technocratic’ expertise and professional authority are increasingly decried. The public discourse that helps bind a civil society seems to be becoming ever less civil. Authoritarian leadership is more evident.

This talk discussed how a sense of democratic purpose might be restored though public services engaging their ‘publics’ in decision-making in more substantive ways. Peter is seeking to walk his talk, reflecting on his three decades as a ‘mandarin’ but focussing on his present role as Coordinator General of Refugee Resettlement in NSW.

Peter was an academic historian who became an influential public servant who ended up as a University Chancellor. In the Australian Public Service he headed successively the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Department of Employment and the Department of Education, Science and Training. He was then appointed as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He now serves on boards, writes government reports and - amongst other things - is Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Coordinator General of Refugee Resettlement.

Women and science: lecture 4

Women and Science  “Visual perception in Aboriginal art”

  Emeritus Professor Barbara Gillam
  FASSA FRSN
  School of Psychology, UNSW

Thursday, 18 July 2019
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Aboriginal painting now has a world-wide reputation.  However it has largely been regarded as conceptual rather than perceptual with a very strong emphasis on the stories depicted.

Barbara Gillam will examine the innovative perceptual skills of Aboriginal bark painters, especially in depicting figure-ground and occlusion.  She will also discuss the visual meaning of this art and its interaction with conceptual meanings.

Out of respect for cultural practices, we will not be featuring the bark paintings referenced in Barbara’s presentation in any of our promotional materials.

Barbara GillamBarbara Gillam was educated at the University of Sydney and ANU.  After two years as a Lecturer in the UK, she moved to New York with academic positions at Columbia and SUNY.  She returned to Australia in 1987 to take up the Chair of Psychology at the University of New South Wales, where she is still a professor.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

1274th OGM and open lecture

Burford
   “Past, present and future of polymers:
    is the plastics age over?”

   Emeritus Professor Robert Burford FRSN
   UNSW

Wednesday 3 July 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

The search for synthetic alternatives (including polymers) to scarce natural materials is not new, and substitution occurred well before today’s plastic bottles and packaging.  A reward of $10,000 for billiard balls, hitherto made from Sri Lankan elephant tusks, ultimately led to thermosets derived from cellulose.  Synthetic nylon stockings replaced unavailable silk (and made Du Pont wealthy) whilst synthetic rubber helped win the war.  The early history of polymer manufacture combines uneducated invention and entrepreneurship with debtor’s courts and skulduggery.  During the 20th century today’s ‘commodity’ polymers emerged, these being based on hydrocarbons including ethylene and propylene.  The public appetite for new synthetics that peaked in the 1950s and 60s (think of the movie The Graduate) has reversed despite polymer production showing unabated growth.  Scarcely a day now passes without reminders of waste, whether it is floating ‘continents’ or containers of Australian plastic being returned from overseas.  The solutions to today’s ‘polymer pollution’ need creative ideas and imaginative solutions but may provide lucrative opportunities.  Several possibilities wiere discussed..

Emeritus Professor Robert Burford has made and broken plastics and rubber for over 40 years, first investigating cracking in nylons before research at the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company.  Since joining UNSW in 1978 he has interacted with the polymer industry at many levels.  He took students to draconian factories to motivate them beyond the factory floor, was a Co-op Program coordinator to attract top students to sometimes enter the same factories, and has been actively engaged in consulting, often examining polymer failures.  He was a lead researcher with the Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers, helping for example to develop a new family of fire performance cables.  He retired as Head of Chemical Engineering at UNSW in 2014 but still consults and volunteers at the Powerhouse Museum in conservation.

Women and science: lecture 3

Women and science, lecture 3   “Climate change and our
   life support system”

   Professor Lesley Hughes FRSN
   Dept. of Biological Sciences
   Macquarie University

Thursday, 20 June 2019
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Our climate system is changing rapidly as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. In Australia, we are already experiencing severe drought, increased bushfire and flooding risk, coastal erosion and unprecedented heatwaves. The changing climate is affecting all sectors – our economy, food security, health, and communities. But it is our environmental life support system that is feeling the impacts most significantly, with climate change exacerbating many other factors that lead to species loss and habitat decline.

Lesley HughesDistinguished Professor Lesley Hughes joins us to summarise the latest global and national trends in the climate and identify the most important observed and future impacts, with an emphasis on biodiversity. She will also outline what we need to do to achieve a stable climate by the second half of this century, and how we need to change our approach to conservation.
But it’s not all bad news; we do have many exciting opportunities to ensure a viable future, both for the planet’s species and our children.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

1273rd OGM and open lecture

Kate Faase

   “This talk may cause side effects: 
     nocebo effects in medicine”

   Dr Kate Faasse
   School of Psychology
   UNSW

Wednesday 5 June 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

Almost everyone has experienced unpleasant side effects from a medical treatment. But what if I were to tell you that most of these side effects aren’t caused by the treatment itself, but by a powerful psychobiological phenomenon called the nocebo effect? The nocebo effect is sometimes seen as the ‘dark side’ of the better-known placebo effect where healing or health improvements are triggered by the treatment context rather than any therapeutic effects of the treatment itself. In contrast, nocebo effects are the unpleasant or adverse outcomes that can be triggered by the treatment context, including information about possible side effects, seeing or reading about someone else experience unpleasant side effects, and generic versus brand name labelling of the medication. This talk used case studies to illustrate the potential impact of nocebo effects in daily life, and discussed recent evidence on the development of nocebo effects, the different treatment context factors that can increase the experience of nocebo effects, the implications of nocebo effects for patients and public health, and evidence on strategies that might help to reduce nocebo effects.

Kate Faasse is an ARC DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. Originally from New Zealand, Kate completed her Bachelors, Masters, and PhD training in Psychology at the University of Auckland, specializing in Health Psychology. She moved to Sydney to take up a Lecturer position in the School of Psychology at UNSW in 2016. During this time Kate has produced over 35 publication and has received over $1million in competitive funding from sources such as the ARC (Australia), and the Auckland Medical Research Foundation (New Zealand). Highlighting the importance of her research into the nocebo effect, Kate’s work was also supported by the Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand (PHARMAC), and her research has informed healthcare policy in New Zealand. Kate’s research in Health Psychology focuses on aspects of medication use, including nocebo and placebo effects, treatment adherence, and perceptions of generic medicines. Ultimately, she hopes that her research will contribute to reducing the burden of nocebo-induced medication side effects in Australia through generating greater understanding of factors that influence the formation and maintenance of nocebo effects, and the development of interventions to reduce nocebo effects in clinical practice.

 

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