Establishment of the Hunter Branch - The Royal Society of NSW

Establishment of the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW

Inaugural meeting (October 2019)

The inaugural meeting of the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW was held at the Newcastle Club on Wednesday 9 October 2019, with the President of the Society, Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO FAA FRSN, presiding. The meeting was attended by 46 Fellows, Members and guests.

Professor Sloan presented fellowship certificates to two new members from the Hunter region: Emeritus Professor Ken Dutton AM FRSN and Professor Brett Nixon FRSN.

Business of the Meeting

The meeting resolved:

  • to recommend to Council that the Royal Society of NSW establish a Hunter Branch;
  • that Emeritus Professor Eugenie Lumbers be appointed interim Branch representative on the RSNSW Council until a permanent appointment is made;
  • that the following be elected as office bearers of the Hunter Branch
Chair Mr Paul Jeans (Chancellor, University of Newcastle)
Vice-Chair Laureate Professor John Aitken
Honorary Secretary Scientia Professor Emeritus Eugenie Lumbers
Honorary Treasurer Professor George Willis
Committee Members Emeritus Professor John Boulton
  Father Andrew Doohan
  Mr John Dunnet
  Professor Brett Ninness
  Professor Natalie Thamwattana
  Mr Robert Whittaker

Following the business of the meeting, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS FAA FTSE FRSN, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, delivered a lecture on Industries of the Future.

A Speaker’s Medal was presented to Professor Durrant-Whyte by Professor Alex Zelinsky FRSN and the meeting was closed by Professor Sloan.

Invited Lecture by Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte: Industries of the Future

The Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer provides independent advice to the New South Wales Government on a range of environmental and economic issues, such as groundwater resources and energy security. Science engagement and outreach are also supported through such activities as the NSW Premier’s Prizes, which in the past 10 years have gone from relatively low key awards to high profile celebrations in Parliament, and the Science and Engineering Challenge. The Office also sponsors conferences and provides co-investment support for successful NSW applications for the Commonwealth Government’s Industrial Transformation Research Program.

Professor Durrant-Whyte emphasised the role of research in the “prosperity economy”. His Office supports initiatives which aim to translate the best of NSW research into industry outcomes—from quantum technologies to robotics for agricultural applications, and from advanced manufacturing to synthetic biology. These initiatives include the support of national research Centres of Excellence, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure, industry innovation networks and the new Physical Sciences Investment fund. His Office also works closely with other NSW Government Departments and Industry to develop a future industry strategy around emerging precincts, such as the proposed new Sydney Technology and Innovation Precinct.

He concluded his lecture by referring to the past and future roles of the Royal Society. He noted that outside his new office in the Warren Centre at the University of Sydney copies of the Society’s Journal dating from the late nineteenth century may be found. They contain important papers about projects significant for New South Wales at that time, and show that the Society was clearly embedded in the NSW community. We now need to return to this position of having strong links with the community and of publishing research relevant to local industries.

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