Royal Society of NSW emblem
156th Annual General Meeting


1312th Ordinary General Meeting


Date: Wednesday, 5 April 2022, 6.00 pm AEST
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney
Entry: Society members, $10; Non-members, $20; Students, $5
Registration: Registration through Membes is required before 2.00 pm on Tuesday, 4 April 2023
While entry to the AGM is for Society members only, all are welcome to the OGM and Lecture

This notice provides information about the:

Annual General Meeting

Rule 4(c) of the Society's Rules requires that an Annual General Meeting (AGM) must be held in April of each year.

Business of the Annual General Meeting

The formal business of the Annual General Meeting, including the election of Council Members, will be conducted via an electronic ballot, in accordance with Rule 18.

Members, Fellows and Distinguished Fellows, who are financial in 2023, will receive an email from the Society's Returning Officer, via the electronic balloting company, Election Buddy. This email will include a unique ballot link that provides a random, secret access key for each voter. Voter anonymity is assured by ballot settings which ensure that voter choices cannot be linked to any voter.

The ballot will run from Monday 13 March 12.00 noon AEDT to Monday 3 April 12.00 noon AEST and will address:

  • Procedural Business:
    • Confirmation of the Minutes of the 155th Annual General Meeting
    • Confirmation that the Annual Report of Council and the Financial Statements for 2022 be received
    • Confirmation of the proposed Auditors for 2023
  • Election of Office-bearers and Council members, namely the:
    • Secretary — from a field of two (2) candidates.


Please note that:

  • for each of the positions of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Librarian, and Webmaster, only a single nomination was received. Accordingly, these Office-bearers will be declared elected at the AGM without the need for a ballot
  • for the three vacancies for Ordinary Members of Council, only three nominations were received.  Accordingly, the candidates for the three Council Member vacancies will be declared elected at the AGM without the need for a ballot.   

The results of the ballot will be announced by the Returning Officer at the AGM on 5 April 2021 and will be posted on the website on the following day.

The Ordinary General Meeting will commence immediately following the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting.

Relevant Documents

The Agenda for this meeting and Minutes of the previous AGM are available on the Meetings page of this website.

The Annual Report from Council and Financial Statements for 2022 (link to follow) will be available on the Governance page.

It is suggested that Members and Fellows read these documents in advance of the commencement of the ballot.

Election of Office-Bearers and Ordinary Members of Council

Listed below are the nominations for the incoming Council received by the Secretary by 5.00 pm AEDT on Monday, 6 March 2023.

For those Office-bearer and Councillor roles where there are more nominees than available positions, an election is required. For roles where there are the same number or fewer nominees than there are available positions, the candidates will be declared elected at the AGM without the need for a ballot.

In all cases, candidates have been invited to provide an optional statement outlining how their expertise and experience fit them for these roles and will benefit the Society. These statements are available through the links below and also are provided as information on the electronic ballot form.

Office/Role Candidate
President Susan Pond AM FRSN
Vice-President      Peter Shergold AC FRSN
Secretary Donald Hector AM FRSN
  Bruce Ramage MRSN
Treasurer Bhavin Raval MRSN
Librarian Stephen Garton AM FRSN
Webmaster Lindsay Botten FRSN
Councillors Katherine Belov AO FRSN
(3 positions) Davina Jackson FRSN
  Christina Slade FRSN

Ordinary General Meeting 

The 1292nd Ordinary General Meeting will follow the Annual General Meeting and includes a face-to-face lecture to be delivered by Professor Dietmar Müller FAA, winner of the 2019 RSNSW Clarke Medal. 

The Agenda for this meeting and Minutes of the previous OGM will be available on the Meetings page of this website.

Professor Dietmar Muller “Reconstructing ancient oceans, sea-level fluctuations, the deep carbon cycle and biodiversity ”

Professor Dietmar Müller FAA FAGU

Professor of Geophysics
School of Geosciences
University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 5 April 2023, 6.00 pm for 6.30 pm AEDT 
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney
Entry: Society members, $10; Non-members, $20; Students, $5.
Registration: Registration through Membes is required before 2.00 pm on 4 April 2023
All are welcome

Summary:  This presentation is a journey through geological time, reconstructing ancient oceans that have little resemblance to the oceans we know today. These reconstructions are enabled by the EarthByte Group's Virtual Earth Observatory, powered by the GPlates software. They represent decades of software development and geodata synthesis to recreate now-vanished ocean basins. These digital maps form the basis for understanding the driving forces of changes in ocean basin volume and long-term sea level, the deep carbon cycle and biodiversity. Our models track oceanic carbon reservoirs through time and demonstrate that the carbon storage and transport capacity of the oceans, from mid-ocean ridges to subduction zones, has increased 5-fold since the breakup of the Pangea supercontinent 200 million years ago, reflecting the emergence of biogenic deep-sea carbonate sediments as the largest carbon reservoir on Earth. Our maps have also been used to reconstruct marine biodiversity. An ocean evolution model over 550 million years, validated with fossil data, shows that modern ocean biodiversity, which is at its highest level ever, was achieved through the long-term stability of the location of so-called biodiversity hotspots. These are regions of especially high numbers of species located in warm, shallow, nutrient-rich waters. This study also emphasizes that, if current trends continue, projected diversity loss can take millions of years to recover, arguably beyond our own existence as a species.

Dietmar Müller is Professor of Geophysics at the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. He received his undergraduate degree from the Univ. of Kiel, Germany, and his PhD in Earth Science from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego/California in 1993. After joining the University of Sydney he built the EarthByte Research Group, pursuing geodata synthesis through space and time. He is leading the construction of a Virtual Earth Laboratory, assimilating the wealth of disparate geological and geophysical data into an experimental planet. Dietmar’s virtual globe software and data are benefiting universities, government organisations, industry and schools worldwide, with end-users across over 190 countries. Novel applications include the development of combined geodynamic, tectonic and surface evolution models unravelling the origins and history of continental landscapes, coastlines, oceans and their environments. He held an Australian Laureate Fellowship from 2009-2014, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and the Australian Academy of Science.

Our story

Who we are

The Royal Society of NSW is a learned society with a 200-year history that traces its origins to the formation of the Philosophical Society of Australasia in 1821, with its purpose to 'awaken a spirit of research or excite a thirst for information' — a sentiment that is alive today through the mission of enriching lives through knowledge and inquiry, principally through public, interdisciplinary discussions and debates of important matters in the sciences and humanities. 

We contribute to a just, secure, and sustainable world by mobilising the multidisciplinary expertise of members, providing authentic and authoritative information, addressing national and global challenges, and recognising and promoting excellence. In doing so, the Society is integral to the social and economic well-being, and the profile and reputation of NSW.

Our values

The Society values liberal democracy, respects religious, political, and cultural freedoms, and promotes non-discriminatory, evidence-based discourse and the free exchange of ideas. We aim to be an effective public intellectual voice by comprehensively embracing diversity and inclusion in all our activities.

What we do

The Society:

  • Conducts meetings for the benefit of members and the general public — including monthly face-to-face gatherings and online meetings, named lectures such as the Pollock Memorial Lecture, the Liversidge Research Lecture in Chemistry, the Poggendorf Memorial Lecture in Agriculture, and the Clarke Memorial Lecture; special events such as [email protected] which is conducted in partnership with the Governor of New South Wales; and the annual Forum in partnership with Australia's learned academies that focus on important contemporary issues
  • Publishes a video record of its monthly meetings, named lectures, and special events (i.e., the annual Forum and [email protected] series) on our YouTube channel
  • Publishes the results of scientific investigations through its Journal and Proceedings and publication of a monthly newsletter
  • Awards prestigious prizes and medals that recognise outstanding achievements in research
  • Liaises with other similar bodies
  • Maintains a library that is an important part of Australia's historical heritage.

Our people

The Royal Society of NSW is a meeting place for people interested in ideas that matter. Drawn from the professions, business, academia, industry, and government, our members encompass a wide range of disciplines and knowledge.  This breadth and diversity of expertise, which makes the Society unique in Australia, provides a powerful platform for debate about today's most challenging problems.

The Society acknowledges up to 25 internationally-recognised contributors to world knowledge as Distinguished Fellows at any one time.  In addition, the Society benefits greatly from a strong cohort of several hundred Fellows, recognised as leaders in their fields within the disciplines of science, art, literature, and philosophy.  


Membership of the Royal Society of New South Wales is open to any person interested in the promotion of studies in Science, Art, Literature, and Philosophy and is an avenue through which individuals can share in the work of the Society. Further details of membership, including the benefits, categories of membership, and how to join the Society are available on the website. 


Regional New South Wales is served through the Society's branches which offer activities with a regional focus in addition to our state-wide membership services. 

Presently, there are three branches: a branch in the Southern Highlands, established in 1994; a branch in the Hunter region, established in 2019; and a branch in Western NSW established in 2021. Regular meetings are held in all locations and are well attended by members and visitors.







Act and Rules

The Royal Society of NSW originated in 1821 as the “Philosophical Society of Australasia”. After an interval of informal activity, it was revived in 1850 as the “Australian Philosophical Society” and was known by this name until 1856, when its name was changed to the “Philosophical Society of New South Wales”. In 1866, by sanction of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, it assumed its present name. The Society was incorporated by an Act of the Parliament of New South Wales in 1881.

Formal ‘Regulations’ were adopted at the second meeting of the Philosophical Society of Australasia held on 4 July 1821. A set of ‘Fundamental Rules’ and ‘By-laws’ were published at the time of the creation of the Royal Society of NSW in 1866/7. Revisions of these Rules and By-laws were published in 1870, 1875/6, 1900, 1912, 1943 and 1968, with subsequent minor amendments.

The Rules and By-laws under which the Society has recently operated were approved at an Annual General Meeting on 19 November 2003 and amended on several occasions thereafter. A review of the Rules and Bylaws, undertaken during 2020, removed inconsistencies and redundancies and brought them up to date, given the significant increase in membership of the Society and advances in technology since 2003. These Rules, incorporating the By-laws, were approved by the membership of the Society at the Ordinary General Meeting held on 9 December 2020.

Although the Rules that were approved in 2020 worked well, the Council reviewed them in 2023 to ensure they continued to meet the needs of the Society and its members and that they reflected contemporary governance practice. In accordance with Rule 32(b) the recommended changes were put to members with voting conducted by electronic ballot which commenced on Monday 23 January 2023 at noon and closed on Monday 13 February 2023 at noon. The current Rules take effect from noon on 13 February 2023.

The Act of Incorporation and the Rules, as approved at the close of the electronic ballot at noon on 13 February 2023, are shown here: Act and Rules (PDF).

Honouring Excellence

Core to the mission of the Royal Society of NSW is its role in the fostering, recognition, and honouring of achievement and excellence. It does so through its Awards and Fellowship Programs.


Each year, the Society makes a number of awards, prizes, scholarships, medals, and lectureships for major contributions to research and intellectual inquiry, including for student research excellence and contributions to the community.  The Society's awards, prizes, and lectureships are amongst the oldest and most prestigious awards in Australia. 

The James Cook Medal is the Society's most prestigious award, recognising outstanding contributions to science and human welfare in and for the Southern Hemisphere.  Over a century or more, other awards, often funded by bequests, have been made in specific fields, including the life and medical sciences, the earth sciences, the physical sciences, engineering, and technology, and the history and philosophy of science.

Traditionally, the awards have been concentrated in the sciences. However, from 2023 onwards, the Society will be implementing an refreshed program of awards that are more inclusive:

  • in the range of disciplines provided for, with particular additions in the humanities and social sciences
  • in the recognition of achievement and excellence at all stages of an individual's research career — for early-career, mid-career, and senior- career achievements, and
  • through recognition of outstanding research by Indigenous researchers.

Further information will be available during 2023 as these pages are updated.  

Distinguished Fellowship

The honour Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales is awarded to internationally-distinguished contributors to science, art, literature or philosophy. The criteria for election as a Distinguished Fellow are listed in Rule 11 of the Society's Rules. The number of Distinguished Fellows, who may use the gazetted postnominal DistRFSN, is limited to 25 at any time. 

There is a separate page which recognised the late Distinguished Fellows of the Society. 


The membership category of Fellow recognises the substantial contribution made by members of the Society who are leaders in their fields within the disciplines of science, art, literature, and philosophy.  Candidates for Fellowship may be proposed by any Member or Fellow of the Society.  Nominations are considered by the Fellows and Members Assessment Committee against criteria defined in Rule 10 of the Society's Rules.  Fellows may use the gazetted postnominal FRSN

 The Fellows page on this website lists all active Fellows of the Society and provides brief biographical information of each.

Strategic Plan

The Royal Society of NSW is an inclusive learned institution that encompasses a diverse group of people who are dedicated to ideas that matter. It draws together people who span and cross a wide range of disciplines and knowledge, creates a focus for sharing and applying expertise, and delivers an independent and authoritative voice. Valuing the notion of the public intellectual, the Society encourages its Members and Fellows to speak out on important issues that shape the future of NSW and the nation. It is a collegiate enterprise, providing a meeting place for people with common interests in advancing knowledge and contributing to a better future.

The 2021-23 Strategic Plan of the Society, approved by the Council on 4 February 2021, builds upon the directions of previous plans while also responding to the imperatives of today’s upheavals. The plan articulates an inclusive and progressive vision, refines the mission, and sharpens the initiatives required to enhance the relevance of the Society’s contribution to our modern state and nation.

It is based on the vision of enriching lives through knowledge and inquiry ti implement a mission of contributing to a just,secure, and sustainable society.

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