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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

RSNSW Annual Dinner 2018

Hurley cropped 2   Guests of honour:

   His Excellency General The Honourable David
   Hurley AC DSC (ret’d.), Governor of New South
   Wales and Patron of the Royal Society of New
   South Wales, and Mrs Hurley


Keneally   Distinguished Fellow’s Lecture

   Thomas Keneally AO DistFRSN

   "Mungo Man Imagined:
    Writing the ultimate historical novel"

Award of Medals:

Clarke Medal for the natural sciences: 
   Professor David Keith

Edgeworth David Medal for distinguished research by a young scientist:
   Associate Professor  Angela Nickerson

James Cook Medal for contributions to science and human welfare:
   Professor Gordon Parker

History & Philosophy of Science Medal: 
   Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith

Pollock Memorial Lectureship:
   Professor Andrea Morello

Poggendorff Award for plant biology and agriculture:
   Associate Professor Brent Kaiser

Royal Society of NSW Medal:
   Dr Donald Hector

Date: Friday 18 May 2018, 6.30 for 6.45 pm
Venue: Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW
(entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)
Cost (including dinner and drinks): $130 Members, $140 non-members, $1,300 for a table of 10
Dress: Black tie

Open to Fellows, Members, Award winners and their guests

Registration: here.

Note: places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

1263rd OGM and Open Lecture

BenOldroyd.crp   “No sex please, we’re Cape bees”

   Professor Ben Oldroyd
   School of Life and Environmental Sciences 
   University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday 6 June, 6 for 6.30pm
Venue: Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW (enter by Shakespeare Place)
Entry: $20 for non-members, $10 for Members and Associate Members of the Society, including a welcome drink. Dress code: business
Dinner (including drinks): $80 for Members and Associate Members, $90 for non-members. Reservations must be made at least 2 days before.
Reservations:  here
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone 9431 8691
All are welcome

Ant and bee colonies have often served as allegorical models for ideal human societies. This view is nicely illustrated by Shakespeare’s King Henry V, in which a bee colony is depicted as a benevolent dictatorship with the workers carrying out coordinated tasks and living in harmonious obedience to a caring monarch, much like Elizabethan England should have been.
Professor Ben Oldroyd has spent a career trying to prove that this idea is wrong. In particular, Ben bred a line of ‘anarchistic’ honey bees, in which the workers laid eggs all the time. Such worker misbehaviour has devastating colony-level effects, because the worker-laid eggs develop into useless male drones. Ben’s work uncovered the gene network that regulates worker sterility in normal bees, showing that in normal workers with a queen and her pheromone, egg development is aborted by programmed cell death in the ovaries of workers. This solved a 50-year-old puzzle as to how a gene that causes sterility could operate. Think about it: if a gene makes you sterile, how could it spread?

But that’s not what this lecture will be about. Rather, Ben will be talking about a remarkable honey bee subspecies from South Africa, Apis mellifera capensis. Capensis is unique because when an unmated Capensis worker lays an egg it develops not as a male, but as a female – a clone of the worker. This gives a Capensis worker the opportunity to be reincarnated as a queen, much like a pawn in chess. And this completely disrupts their societies because Capensis workers are always plotting revolutions. Ben’s got it all figured out and will tell the tale. You can look forward to hearing about the march of the clones across the commercial industry, triploid queens, gassed virgins, fusion nuclei, social parasitism, social cancers and more besides.

Ben Oldroyd is Professor of Behavioural Genetics at the University of Sydney. He completed a BSc(Agr) at Sydney in 1980 and a PhD on bee breeding in 1984. Ben’s research focuses on the genetics of honey bees, the evolution of social behavior and evolution more broadly. In 2001 Ben was awarded a Doctor of Science for his contributions to the understanding of the evolution of honey bee societies, and he is past-President of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. Ben is heavily involved with the Australian beekeeping industry, including helping beekeepers breed better, healthier strains. In recognition of this, Ben was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering award in Biology in 2014. Ben has made important contributions to our understanding of the biology of Asian honey bees. His book Asian Honey Bees: Biology, Conservation and Human Interactions (Harvard University Press) is the authoritative text on the subject. Ben has authored nearly 300 scientific papers on honey bees and stingless bees.

Great Australians You've Never Heard of: Lecture 1

Keneally small

   “A Tasmanian convict who went from
     an Irish Rebel to become Governor”

   By Thomas Keneally AO

Date and time: Friday 22nd June, 6.00pm for 6.30-7.30pm
Venue: Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 Fellows/Members, $20 Friends per Lecture
Light refreshments will be served
Bookings are essential
Registration: https://smsa.org.au/events/booking-form-great-australians-series/
Enquiries: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, phone (02) 9262 7300
All are welcome,

The Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts (SMSA) — the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education — are proud to present a collaborative lecture program, Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of.


Following the success of the Enlightenment Series, Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of follows the underpinning Enlightenment idea that  “The Freedom to use Your Own Intelligence” enabled remarkable people to create the extraordinary society we live in. Yet few of those special people are recognized today, nor is the context of their contributions understood by the beneficiaries of their initiatives. Over the course of four lectures, this series sets about identifying some of those people.

Other Lectures in the series (more details to follow):

23 July 2018 — Peter Baume
6 September 2018 — Emeritus Professor D. Brynn Hibbert
12 November 2018 — Alison Bashford

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