Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1176th Ordinary General Meeting

The Real Significance of Hobbits: Hominid Biogeography in South East Asia

Professor Michael J. Morwood, Professor in Archaeology, School of Earth and Environmental Studies, University of Wollongong

Date: Wednesday, 4th November, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


In 2004 Professor Mike Morwood led the team that found the skeleton of a previously undiscovered human species on the island of Flores. The "Hobbit" skeleton was of a much smaller stature than present day humans, being that of an adult who was only one metre in height. Evidence suggests that these "Hobbits" may have lived from 95,000 to 13,000 years ago and were probably descendants of the Homo erectus population that had evolved in isolation on Flores. It is believed that the"Hobbit" may have still been in existence when the 16th century Dutch traders arrived at the island. This discovery has raised questions about the nature of human of evolution.

The discovery of an endemic species of human on Flores was unexpected, but no more so than finding evidence of Homins on the islands from 880,000 years ago. This lecture will explain why the 2004 discovery was not wholly unexpected with reference to the faunal biogeography of South East Asia. It will conclude with some of the implications for early hominin and modern human dispersal mechanisms, and for the future archaeological research in the region.

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Mike Morwood's Talk (5 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Professor Michael Morwood has carried out extensive research in New Zealand and throughout Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, both as an academic researcher and as a public archaeologist. He is particularly interested in ethnohistory, material culture studies and the social-ceremonial role of art in Aboriginal Culture.

In 2007, Professor Morwood and Penny Van Oosterzee, won the John Mulvaney Book Award for the publication of "The Discovery of the Hobbit: The Scientific Breakthrough that Changed the Face of Human History" documenting his work on the Indonesian island of Flores. In addition to his work in Indonesia, he is an expert in Australian Aboriginal rock art and the author of "Visions from the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art".

He is currently the Professor in Archaeology, School of Earth and Environmental Studies at the University of Wollongong.

The 2009 Clarke Memorial Lecture

Climate Change through the Lens of the Geological Record:the Example of Sea Level

Professor Kurt Lambeck, AO, FAA, FRS
Distinguished Professor of Geophysics at the Australian National University
President of the Australian Academy of Science

Date: Friday, 30th October 2009 at 5:30 pm
Venue: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney

The 2009 Clarke Memorial Lecture is presented in conjunction with The University of Sydney and The Geological Society of Australia


Climate Change has been with the planet since the time of the formation of the oceans and atmosphere and is recorded, albeit imperfectly, in the geological record.

One of these records is the change in sea level through time, a complex variable that contains implicit information not only on climate but also on the tectonic and geological evolution of the planet. He will address aspects of the underpinning science and what we can learn from it, focussing on the best-known part of the record, that for the last glacial cycle.

The modern instrumental record is much more precise and has higher resolution but will also contain in addition to the `natural' variability any new signals that may result from human impact on climate. The challenge is to separate these "natural" and "anthropogenic" forcings if forecasts of future change are to be meaningful.

The problems encountered are similar to all other indicators of climate change – of separating natural and human forcing from instrumental and geological or historical records when the length of the latter are about the same as the time that human impacts may have been effective.

Professor Lambeck will use the sea level record as an illustration of many of the issues that need to be understood for a meaningful interpretation of the evidence. In so doing he will raise the role of the IPCC and where the IPCC findings are tracking in 2009; and how the public debate on climate change appears to be becoming increasingly confused while the underpinning science is becoming more robust.

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Kurt Lambeck's Clarke Lecture (2.9 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Professor Lambeck's research interests range through the disciplines of geophysics, geodesy and geology with a focus on the deformations of the Earth on intermediate and long time scales and on the interactions between surface processes and the solid earth.

Past research areas have included the determination of the Earth's gravity field from satellite tracking data, the tidal deformations and rotational motion of the Earth, the evolution of the Earth-Moon orbital system, and lithospheric and crustal deformation processes. His recent research work has focused on aspects of sea level change and the history of the Earth's ice sheets during past glacial cycles, including field and laboratory work and numerical modelling.

Professor Lambeck has been at the Australian National University since 1977, including ten years as Director of the Research School of Earth Sciences. Before that he was at the University of Paris and the French Space Agency (1970-1977), and at the Harvard-Smithsonian observatory (1967-1970). His doctorate is from Oxford (1967) and his first degree from the University of New South Wales (1963). He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1984 and became its President in 2006.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (1994), a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1993), the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (1994), Academia Europaea (1999), the Académie des Sciences, Institut de France (2005), and the US National Academy of Sciences (2009)

1175th Ordinary General Meeting

The SKAMP Project - A Telescope Reborn to Look Back in Time

Professor Anne Green
Head, School of Physics
University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 7th October, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


For more than 40 years the University of Sydney has operated the Molonglo Observatory. Recently, the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope completed a detailed imaging survey of the southern sky at a frequency of 843 MHz. What next? We are undertaking a complete renewal of the signal pathway as part of Australia's contribution to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, a powerful new radio telescope. Our project is the SKA Molonglo Prototype (SKAMP), which will be a new low frequency spectrometer with wide-field imaging and polarization capability. This talk will describe the project and how it builds on the previous telescope and its science achievements. Two of the key science goals to be undertaken initially will be a survey of red-shifted neutral hydrogen gas and a study of the transient radio sky. With the subsequent polarization capability, we will map the magnetic field structure of our Galaxy and explore cosmic magnetism.

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Anne Green's Talk (3.6 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Professor Anne Green is a radio astronomer whose main research focus is the study of the structure and ecology of our Milky Way Galaxy with particular interest in supernova remnants, the relics of exploded stars. She was Director of the Molonglo Observatory for ten years and is now Head of the School of Physics and Director of the Science Foundation for Physics within the University of Sydney, the first woman to hold these posiitons. Professor Green is a graduate of both Melbourne and Sydney Universities and was the first female PhD graduate in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. She held an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institut for Radioastronomie in Bonn, Germany, before retiring from academia to travel Europe, live in Belgium and Switzerland and have two children. After a return to Sydney and fifteen years away from astronomy, she resumed her research career. She is now leader of the SKA Molonglo Prototype (SKAMP) project, which is prototyping technology and undertaking science projects as a forerunner to an amazing new telescope for the future called the Square Kilometre Array. Professor Green is also the Chair of the International Astronomical Union Working Group whose goal is to improve the status of women in astronomy.

1174th Ordinary General Meeting

Weird Animal Genomes and Sex

Professor Jenny Graves, Head, Comparative Genomics Research Group, Australian National University
Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics,
Professorial Fellow, Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne

Date: Wednesday, 2nd September, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


Whether a baby develops as a boy or girl depends on a single gene on the Y chromosome. In humans and other mammals, females have two X chromosomes, but males have a single X and a Y that bears the testis-determining gene (SRY) that induces testis differentiation and switches on hormones that masculinize the embryo. The human X is a middle-sized, ordinary chromosome, though it is rich in genes involved in reproduction and intelligence (often both). But the tiny Y is a genetic wasteland – full of genetic junk and bearing only 45 genes, most active only in testis. How did human sex chromosomes get to be so weird?

Our strategy is to compare the chromosomes, genes and DNA in distantly related mammals and even birds and reptiles (which have completely different sex determining systems). The genomes of Australia's unique kangaroos and platypus, now being completely sequenced, are a goldmine of new information. Kangaroo sex chromosomes reveal the original mammal sex chromosomes, while the bizarre platypus sex chromosomes (more related to those of birds) tell us that our sex chromosomes are relatively young.

Our works shows that the human X and Y evolved from an ordinary chromosome pair just 150 million years ago. It is degrading progressively and I predict it will disappear in just 5 million years. If humans don't become extinct, new sex determining genes and chromosomes must evolve, maybe leading to the evolution of new hominid species.

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Jenny Graves Talk (25 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Jenny was born and educated in Adelaide. She was no science star at school, but topped the state in Geography. She didn't much like biology but, after undergraduate studies at Adelaide University, a fascination with genetics led her rather accidentally to a PhD in molecular biology at the University of California at Berkeley, thanks to a Fulbright award. Jenny then spent nearly 30 years at La Trobe University in Melbourne before moving to the Australian National University in 2001.

In the 1970s, Jenny stumbled on the potential of Australia's unique fauna (mammals, birds, and reptiles) to study genetic structures and regulation systems conserved from the earliest vertebrates through to humans. By exploiting the genetic diversity of Australia's unique mammals, her group have gained insights into mammalian sex, development, genetic disease, defence mechanisms, and species survival. Her lab's unique contributions to understanding the evolution, function and organization of the mammalian genome have had major impacts on current thinking in the field.

Jenny has been an enthusiastic advocate for comparative genomics. She set up and directs the ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics, which has secured a key role for Australia in the sequencing and analysis of the kangaroo genome. Her contributions to science have been recognized by election to the Australian Academy of Science in 1999, a Centenary Medal in 2002 and the Macfarlane Burnet Medal in 2005. She is a 2006 Laureate of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science.


Our group (Comparative Genomics) is famous for studying genes and chromosomes of Australian animals. Every project depends ultimately on samples from a variety of Australian animals such as kangaroos and platypus, but also exotics like devils (Tasmanian) and dragons (lizards). Pat is a wiz at organizing legalities and technicalities, as well as animal handling and sampling; Jenny would really prefer to work on tomatoes or fruitflies. We culture tiny samples of skin cells in the laboratory. Jenny's training in cell culture at Berkeley was used to establish methods for growing just about anything, and Pat now runs our unique cell culture lab with exacting standards. Our stock in-trade is physical mapping of genes onto chromosomes, and getting brilliant chromosome preparations is crucial; here Pat's training in human cytogenetics complements Jenny's training in molecular cytology.

We use these basic techniques more and more for large-scale projects on the genomes of Australian mammals. Basic work had to be done to characterize the chromosomes of the kangaroo and the platypus before the complete sequence of their genomes (costing many millions of dollars) could be interpreted. Platypus chromosomes caused major headaches because they have weird multiple sex chromosomes: Jenny had been trying to sort them out for 20 years, now an onslaught using new molecular techniques allowed Jenny and Pat, with a postdoc and research assistant to sort out which chromosome is which.

Two major projects last year that Pat and Jenny collaborated on were to construct physical maps of the platypus and the opossum; these required painstaking isolation and characterization of large DNA fragments, tagging them with a fluorescent dye, then attaching them to chromosomes where they home in on the DNA containing this sequence and reveal their presence by a bright spot on one of the chromosomes. Pat's has ensured that the quality of the chromosomes, the probes and the images are all 100%, and Jenny has made sure the locations make sense and put the map together with other genomic data. These maps were crucial for deciphering the complete DNA sequence of the first marsupial and the first monotreme genome. These projects culminated in major papers on which Pat and Jenny are both authors.

1173rd Ordinary General Meeting

What Will Coral Reefs Look Like in 2050

Associate Professor Peter Ralph Executive DirectorPlant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3)University of Technology, Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 5th August, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


Corals have existed for millions of years and survived in a wide range of climates; but coral bleaching seems to have pushed corals to the brink. Research in to coral bleaching has been at the forefront of the climate change agenda for many years. It attracts much public interest, but we still do not know why corals die at temperatures only a few degrees higher than their optimum. Given the onset of coral bleaching and the combined stress of ocean acidification, I will describe how I see the Great Barrier Reef in 2050. Will the reef be dominated by fleshy macroalgae, soft corals or just a film of bacteria covering the dead coral skeletons?

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Peter Ralph Talk (36 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Peter Ralph is an Associate Professor at UTS and the Executive Director of the Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3). He has over 15 years experience in the areas of photosynthetic physiology and ecology of marine plants and is widely regarded as a world expert in this field. His research team has made significant contributions to the physiology of marine plants, including corals, Antarctic sea-ice algae, seagrasses and macroalgae. His group includes senior research fellows, 3 post docs, 7 PhD students and 4 Honours. His team has on-going research collaborations with Danish, German, UK, US and Canadian photobiologists. Peter has been addressing questions fundamental to advancing knowledge of marine photosynthetic organisms that survive at the edge of their environmental envelope. His group is currently developing mechanistic models of microalgal photo-physiology, as well as developing a fluorescence-based proxy of primary production.

1172nd Ordinary General Meeting

Accurate Measurement: the Vital Backbone of Australian Science
& Industry

Dr Laurie Besley, Chief Executive & Chief Metrologist, National Measurement Institute

Date: Wednesday, 1st July, 2009 at 7:00 pm Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


Measurement pervades all aspects of our society, from the sale of food by weight in the supermarket, to the management of data transfer systems to better than nanosecond precision for the telecommunications sector. The National Measurement Institute (NMI) is the national core of Australia's expertise in measurement and has the responsibility to address this entire spectrum of needs. It not only maintains, develops and disseminates the primary measurement standards for Australia in physics, chemistry and biology, but also operates specialist laboratories based on these measurement skills, such as a mainstream forensic laboratory, Australia's only WADA-accredited sports drugs laboratory, and a high-voltage laboratory for the electrical utilities. The talk will discuss how NMI addresses this myriad of challenges and outline the outcomes to Australia from its activities.

Biographical notes

Dr Besley's scientific and management career has spanned a diversity of fields. including, for the last dozen years, metrology in chemistry. After beginning his career in cryogenic temperature measurement and spending 20 years working in physical metrology, he applied his PhD in chemistry to transplanting the metrological approach from physics to chemistry and initiated work in this area within what was then the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) in Australia. He then became Director of the National Analytical Reference Laboratory within the Australian government body AGAL. When AGAL and NML both became part of the new organisation NMI in 2004, he was first appointed to a role as general manager of the metrology in chemistry branch and late in 2007 was given his present role as Chief Executive. Dr Besley has a publication list of some 75 journal publications in a variety of different fields of metrology.

Dr Besley is a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK). He is also a member of the NATA Council. He is active in a number of international forums including being a consultant to the Executive Committee of the Asia-Pacific Metrology Programme. He is a member of the editorial boards of the international journals "Metrologia", "IET Science Measurement & Technology", and "Accreditation and Quality Assurance". He has worked on a number of occasions as a consultant for the Technical Cooperation programme of the German metrology institute (PTB), mostly in Thailand, and most recently in Sri Lanka.

1171st Ordinary General Meeting

New Environmentally Friendly Approaches to Cooling Buildings

Professor Geoff Smith,
Department of Physics and Advanced Materials, University of Technology, Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 3rd June, 2009 at 7:00 pm Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


The potential for energy savings in the cooling of buildings is very large and of growing importance as living standards rise, as global warming impacts, and as the "heat island" effect gets worse with increased urbanisation. There are two aspects: (i) passive systems which minimise heat gains, and (ii) active systems and strategies which minimise or eliminate the need for electrically powered cooling. This talk will examine novel materials and systems which play a role in both active and passive reductions in the demand for electrically powered cooling. It will also include results with special paints and nanostructured coatings developed at UTS.

Amplification of night sky radiative cooling using nanostructures and heat mirrors will be outlined, in which material spectral properties and system design in combination optimally exploit the spectral and directional properties of incoming atmospheric thermal radiation. Useful cooling powers under clear skies at temperatures down to ~15℃ below ambient are feasible in well engineered systems, while simple low cost systems can achieve useful cooling powers in the range 5℃ to 10℃ below ambient. There are a many ways such capabilities can be put to use.

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Geoff Smith's Talk (4.6 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Geoff Smith is Professor Emeritus in Applied Physics at the University of Technology, Sydney Australia. He has worked on the science and applications of nanomaterials for over 30 years. His group, in partnership with local and international industry, has pioneered developments in the fields of solar energy, energy efficient windows and paints, radiative cooling, natural lighting and LED lighting. Products and several patents have followed. Key contributions to nano-photonics, thin film optics and polymer optics feature in his work with over 180 reviewed papers and several book chapters. He is chair of the Australian Standards committee on roof glazing and skylights, helped formulate Australia's recent energy efficient building codes, and has chaired an annual International Conference in the USA (SPIE - Nanostructured Thin Films) since 2006. Geoff has a number of overseas and local awards in the renewables and energy field including an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala in Sweden in 2003. He is a Fellow of the AIP and of the Institute of Energy.

A summary of the July lecture
by Dr Jim Franklin

There is a hole in the atmosphere that can be used to cool buildings. This is important because the electricity used for air-conditioning is a major contributor to green house gas emissions and building running costs. Professor Geoff Smith from UTS explained that at wavelengths below 8 micrometers, the atmosphere is opaque because of absorption from water vapour. Above 13 micrometres it is opaque because of absorption from carbon dioxide and water vapour. So for long and short wavelengths we see a hot opaque atmosphere and no radiative cooling is possible.

However, between 8 and 13 micrometers the atmosphere is fairly transparent (opacity is 17 % at the vertical, increasing to 100 % at the horizon). So at this "wavelength hole", an object can radiate its heat away through the atmosphere into space and receive little heat back from the atmosphere. The cooling effect is greatest towards the vertical. Professor Smith has shown that net-cooling powers can in principle exceed 200 W/m2. Experimental systems developed by his group can run 10°C below ambient at night and pump 135 W/m2. Or they can achieve much lower temperatures with smaller cooling powers. The key is to use an optical design in which the radiator only sees the "cool" sky at the zenith. If these systems are shielded from the direct sun, they can also give good cooling during the day. Prof Smith has investigated special selective surfaces that radiate most efficiently in the "wavelength hole" with little emission at other wavelengths. Surprisingly, these selective surfaces offer little advantage, except when one is striving for the lowest possible temperature.

Professor Smith then discussed new building materials he has worked on that can help cool buildings. With BASF and others he has helped develop special paints that reflect the infrared part of sunlight but look like ordinary pigments to the naked eye. A special white paint developed by UTS can greatly decrease solar heating. When tested on a Queensland supermarket it cut air-conditioning power consumption by two thirds.

Another interesting material described by Prof Smith is Micronal sheeting (made by BASF). This is plasterboard with a high loading of microcapsules of an alkane wax that changes phase at room temperature. This gives the material superb heat storage capabilities. A 3 cm sheet has the same heat capacity as 18 cm of concrete or 23 cm of brick. A building using this material can have enhanced comfort and reduced costs with minimal air conditioning or heating. In summer one lets in the cold night air to chill the sheets, and then uses them to cool the building during the hot part of the day. In winter, the noon sun warms the sheets, which can heat the building at night. Clearly radiative cooling and new, high tech materials have an important future in cooling buildings.

1170th Ordinary General Meeting

A Scientist vs. the Law

Professor D. Brynn Hibbert,
Chair of Analytical Chemistry, University of New South Wales.

Date: Wednesday, 6th May, 2009 at 7:00 pm Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road, Darlington


A largely anecdotal review of the author's work in the courts, including bogus health products, unsuccessful defences of murderers and racehorse trainers, and highly lucrative patent cases.

One example is Ion mobility spectrometry. This is embodied in instruments such as the Ion Scan and is used at airports to detect drugs or explosives at trace levels. The author has given evidence in trials of drug importation in which an Ion Scan has revealed the presence of a drug with subsequent seizure of substantive amounts. In an early trial, during the author's evidence the "invisible hand" defence was coined when the trial judge misheard a question from counsel and caused the following conversation Judge: "Did you say the hand that touched the cocaine was invisible?". Counsel: "No your honour, I said the cocaine that the hand touched was invisible".

The Ion Mat sold for around $3,000 and apart from claiming to improve your sex life, it cured cancers (various) and ameliorated bad breath. The mattress did this by creating "beneficial negative ions" despite the author's opinion that the electric field was about the same as a toaster and whereas we do not expect our household appliances to make us better, this would not either. The prosecution by the ACCC was a success, but at the end of the trial the principals of the company fled with, it is said, $12 million.

There will be some discussion of statistics (Lies, damned lies and ...), dendrites and fractals, stolen wine, contaminated beer and defunct batteries. This will lead to a reflection on expert opinion and the role of professional societies in maintaining standards of professionalism.

The speaker's presentation can be found here: Bryn Hibbert's Talk (1.3 MB PDF).

Biographical notes

Professor Hibbert occupies the Chair of Analytical Chemistry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He is the second incumbent and arrived in Australia from England in 1987. His research interests are in electroanalytical chemistry and chemometrics and metrology in chemistry, but he also does a sideline in expert opinion, scientific fraud and presenting science to the public. He has published around 200 papers, 6 books and 2 patents. His most recent book Quality Assurance in the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory published by Oxford University Press won the RACI Olle Prize for 2007. He is past Chair of the Analytical Division of the RACI, Secretary of the IUPAC Analytical Division and was co-chair of Interact 2002.

Pollock Memorial Lecture 2009

The Universe from Beginning to End

Dr Brian Schmidt, Federation Fellow, Mount Stromlo Observatory, ANU

The Pollock Memorial Lecture is presented jointly by the University of Sydney and the Royal Society of NSW. The Lectureship has been awarded about every four years since 1949 and is sponsored by the University of Sydney and the Royal Society of NSW in memory of Professor J.A. Pollock, Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney (1899-1922) and a member of the Society for 35 years.

Date: Wednesday, 29th April, 2009 at 6.30pm
Location: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney


Despite hundreds of years of dedicated scientific research, we only know what 4% of the Universe is made up of. In the last 15 years we have realised that there is another 96% of missing stuff that we just can't see. This missing stuff is made up of two mysterious substances, Dark Matter and Dark Energy, that are battling for domination of the Universe.

In the Pollock Memorial Lecture, Professor Brian Schmidt, from the Australian National University, will describe exciting new experiments, including those using the SkyMapper telescope, that are monitoring the struggle between these two dark forms. The aim is to predict the ultimate fate of the Cosmos!

Biographical notes

Professor Brian Schmidt is a Federation Fellow at the Australian National University's Mount Stromlo Observatory. While at Harvard University in 1994 he formed the High Z SN Search team, a group of 20 astronomers on five continents who used distant exploding stars to trace the expansion of the Universe back in time. This group's discovery of an accelerating Universe was named Science Magazine's Breakthrough of the Year for 1998. Brian is continuing his work using exploding stars to study the Universe, and is leading Mt Stromlo's effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digital map of the southern sky from ultraviolet to near infrared wavelengths.

Annual Dinner and Awards 2009

His Honour Justice James Allsop, President of the NSW Court of Appeal

The Society held a very successful Annual Dinner at the Forum Restaurant, Darlington Centre at the University of Sydney on 13 March. The Guest-of-Honour was His Honour Justice James Allsop, President of the NSW Court of Appeal who replaced our Chief Patron, the Governor-General at relatively short notice. The Society thanks His Honour for his attendance and for his very insightful Occasional Address, which touched on the relationship between the Society and the legal profession.

The other highlight of the evening was the presentation of our Awards for 2008. His Honour presented the Clarke Medal (this year it was for botany) to Professor Bradley Potts from the University of Tasmania and the Edgeworth David Medal for a young scientist to Dr Adam Micolich of the University of NSW. Associate Profesor Bill Sewell read the citations which were followed by very generous remarks by the recipients in accepting the Awards.

His Honour Justice James Allsop, The President John Hardie and Professor Bradley Potts​​
His Honour Justice James Allsop, The President John Hardie and Dr Adam Micolich

For further details see the March 2009 Bulletin No. 323.

The Four Societies Lecture 2009

Australian Nuclear Association, Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia,
Australian Institute of Energy and The Royal Society of NSW

An Industry Update on Global Nuclear Power and the Opportunities for Australia

Dr Selena Ng, Areva NC, Australia

Date: Wednesday, 25th February, 2009 at 6:00 pm
Venue: Engineers Australia Lecture Theatre, 8 Thomas St, Chatswood


Countries worldwide are committing to nuclear power as an integral part of their future energy mix, as they struggle to meet increasing electricity demands in a competitive and secure way while reducing their carbon emissions. Here in Australia, nuclear power, uranium mining, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste - just to name a few - do make appearances on the public and political agenda from time to time, although the issues are sometimes confused, and often clouded by conflicting "facts". This talk will aim to set the record straight from an industry perspective, covering some of the long-argued topics such as proliferation, safety, and waste. It will also look at projected industrial developments over the coming decades, and the opportunities for Australia to get involved.

Biographical notes

Dr Selena Ng is currently responsible for developing AREVA's nuclear activities in Australia. Prior to returning to Australia in 2007, she spent a number of years at AREVA's headquarters in Paris, dealing with the recycling of used nuclear fuel and waste management, and issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, a topic about which she has coauthored and presented papers at various international forums. Selena holds a BSc(Hons) from Monash University, a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge, and a diploma in management from the College des Ingnieurs.

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