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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1264th OGM and Open Lecture

Joanna Mendelssohn
 “Can art really make a difference?”

   Honorary Associate Professor
   Joanna Mendelssohn
   College of Fine Arts, UNSW

Wednesday 4 July 2018
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Sydney

Artists have long tackled global issues, throughout centuries of wars and humanitarian crises. Artists persist in challenging assumed knowledge in their attempts to awaken the conscience of the world. Artists can become witnesses for the prosecution of the crimes of our times, as well as enabling some viewers to see the world differently. Can we really expect it to truly make a difference in the real world? While Picasso's celebrated Guernica may not have stopped the Spanish Civil War (or any war), art still holds value, as witness and as truth teller.

Joanna Mendelssohn came to an academic career after an extensive curatorial background in art museums and as the award-winning art critic of The Bulletin.  She was for many years the coordinator of the Master of Art Administration at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW.  In 1980 she was a research assistant on the University of Sydney's Dictionary of Australian Artists project.  In 2003, after Professor Joan Kerr indicated problems in publishing her new research on Australian illustrators (black and white artists), she suggested that the ideal publishing future for Australian art historical scholarship lay in online publishing.  After Kerr was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Mendelssohn was instrumental in organising the national collaboration of universities and cultural institutions that ensured the future of Kerr's research in the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online.  She has been a CI on each of the successful ARC LIEF grants for this ongoing and expanding project, which has now evolved into Design and Art of Australia Online (https://www.daao.org.au/) and is currently Editor-in-Chief.  Her first book was the seminal study on Sydney Long (1979).  This was followed by a series of studies on Lionel Lindsay.  The research for her book, Lionel Lindsay: an artist and his family (Chatto & Windus, London 1988) was supported by a Literature Board Fellowship.  She later revisited the ways in which the mythology of the Lindsay family had been created in her PhD thesis, which was then reworked and published as Letters & Liars: Norman Lindsay and the Lindsay family (Angus & Robertson 1996).  She also wrote the catalogue for the 1990 Yellow House exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and was curator for the touring exhibition Larter Family Values (2006).

For the last five years she has been the lead researcher in an ARC Linkage Project in collaboration with the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia and Museums Australia.  The principal results of this research is about to be published by Thames and Hudson as Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening our Eyes, co-written with her fellow researchers, Catherine De Lorenzo, Alison Inglis and Catherine Speck.

Great Australians you’ve never heard of

Peter Baume   Lecture 2

   “The man from Ballarat
     who injected himself
     with the myxoma virus”

   The Honourable Em Prof Peter Baume AC

Date and time: Friday 23 July 2018, 6pm for 6.30-7.30
Venue: Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 Fellows/Members, $20 friends
Light refreshments will be served
Bookings are essential
Registration: https://smsa.org.au/events/booking-form-great-australians-series/
Enquiries: phone SMSA, (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.

The Great Australian featured in this lecture was born in Ballarat, and then grew up in South Australia. During WWII, he helped Australia to win the War in the Pacific. After the war, when there was public concern about myxomatosis, he and two other scientists injected themselves with myxoma virus to prove that it did not affect humans. He also chaired the group that eliminated an infectious disease from the world—the first and only time this has been done. In recognition of this he received many international awards, and much international recognition. As an old man he was a beloved figure in academe, and is still held high regard by those in his trade.

Peter Baume was Professor of Community Medicine and Head of the School of Community Medicine at University of New South Wales from 1991 to 2000. He was a Senator for New South Wales between 1974 and 1991, and was successively Government Whip, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister Assisting the Minister for National Development and Energy, Minister for Health, Minister for Education, and a Minister in Cabinet. He was Chancellor of the Australian National University from 1994-2006, was Foundation Chair of the Australian Sports Drug Agency, a Commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Deputy-Chair of the Australian National Council on AIDS, President of the Public Health Association (NSW Branch), Patron of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NSW and of its successor body Dying with Dignity NSW. He was the Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association in NSW (he remains a Director) and was Chairman of the Kolling Institute for Medical Research. He has been an Official Visitor to psychiatric hospitals and a member of the Official Visitors’ Advisory Committee. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales. He is a physician who holds a doctorate, two honorary doctorates, and several fellowships and is a Companion in the Order of Australia (having previously been an Officer of the same Order). He has published extensively, reviews for a number of journals and has received a number of competitive grants.

About the Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of lecture series

Over the course of four lectures, we will share the fascinating stories of some remarkable Australians who have helped create the extraordinary society we live in, but have not received the recognition they deserve. Neither is the context of their contributions understood by the beneficiaries of their initiatives. This series sets about identifying some of those people.

Other lectures in the series

22 June 2018 — Thomas Keneally DistFRSN
6 September 2018 — Emeritus Professor D. Brynn Hibbert AM FRSN
12 November 2018 — Alison Bashford FRSN

1265th OGM and Open Lecture

Muireann Irish small   “The final frontier –
   on the complexity and
   frailty of human memory”

   Associate Professor Muireann Irish
   Brain & Mind Centre
   University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday 8 August 2018, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (enter by Shakespeare Place)
Entry: $25 for non-members, $15 for Members and Associate Members of the Society (including a welcome drink)
Dress code: business
Dinner (including drinks): $85 for Members and Associate Members, $95 for non-members. Reservations must be made at least 2 days before.
Reservations: https://nsw-royalsoc.currinda.com/register/event/50
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone 9431 8691

All are welcome

Human memory remains one of the great scientific enigmas and one which continues to perplex neuroscientists, philosophers, and psychologists alike. Our memories are our most prized possessions, enabling us to revisit defining events from the past and guiding us towards adaptive behaviours in the future. The relative ease with which we mentally navigate back and forth through subjective time, however, belies the incredible complexity of these processes. With the advent of high-resolution neuroimaging techniques, it is now possible to map the regions of the brain that activate when we recollect the past; however, it is only when memory begins to fail that we can truly appreciate its intricacies. In this lecture, I will present an overview of work from my group exploring different facets of memory dysfunction across a range of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, semantic dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. Using a combination of novel experimental tools and advanced neuroimaging techniques, we are moving towards a refined understanding of how progressive atrophy to distributed brain networks impacts the capacity not only to remember the past but also to envisage the future. In doing so, I hope to highlight the neurocognitive mechanisms that must be functional to support a range of memory processes as well as considering the devastating effects of losing these uniquely human functions.
Muireann Irish is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Psychology at the Brain & Mind Centre, University of Sydney. Originally from Ireland, Muireann completed a Bachelor degree in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin (1st Class Honours), then a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology before relocating to Australia in 2010. Since then, she has produced over 80 publications and has received over $2.5million in competitive funding from such sources as the ARC, NHMRC, Brain Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Australia. Muireann’s research focus is the cognitive neuroscience of memory and how pathological insult to large-scale brain networks compromises sophisticated expressions of memory. Ultimately, she hopes her research will inform the early and accurate detection of dementia as well as the development of interventions to improve quality of life and wellbeing for those affected.

RSNSW/SMSA 2018 Science Week talks

Science Week logo

The Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts are combining to offer a series of four talks as part of Science Week (https://sydneyscience.com.au/2018/)

Venue: Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Registration essential
All are welcome
Enquiries: phone SMSA on (02) 9262 7300

Talk 1: “Will self-driving cars make us safer?”

Professor Ann Williamson FRSN, Director, Transport and Road Safety Research Centre, UNSW
Date and time: Monday 13 August 2018, 12.30–1pm
Cost: free
Further details and registration at
https://smsa.org.au/events/event/science-week-autonomous-vehicles-will-in-vehicle-technology-make-us-safer/
or
https://sydneyscience.com.au/2018/event/will-autonomous-vehicles-make-us-safer/

Talk 2: “Nanotech: What is so special about small stuff?”

Rosie Hicks, CEO Australian National Fabrication Facility
Date and time: Tuesday 14 August 2018, 12.30–1pm
Cost: free
Further details and registration at
https://smsa.org.au/events/event/science-week-nanotech-whats-the-big-deal-about-small-stuff/
or
https://sydneyscience.com.au/2018/event/nanotech-whats-the-big-deal-on-small-stuff/

 

Talk 3: “Ethics, emotions and elegance in artificial intelligence”

Professor Simeon Simoff FRSN, Dean of School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Western Sydney University
Date and time: Tuesday 14 August, 6–7.30pm
Cost: $15 members of RSNSW or SMSA, $20 non-members and guests (light refreshments will be served)
Further details and registration at
https://smsa.org.au/events/event/ethics-emotions-elegance-artificial-intelligence/
or
https://sydneyscience.com.au/2018/event/ethics-emotions-and-elegance-in-ai/

 

Talk 4: “Wine and medicine: an Australian perspective”

Dr Phillip Norrie FRSN, General Practitioner
Date and time: Friday 17 August, 6–7.30pm
Cost: $15 members of RSNSW or SMSA, $20 non-members and guests (light refreshments will be served)
Further details and registration at
https://smsa.org.au/events/event/science-week-wine-as-medicine-an-australian-perspective/
or
https://sydneyscience.com.au/2018/event/wine-as-medicine-an-australian-perspective/

Great Australians you’ve never heard of

Keneally small
   Lecture 1

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

   given by Thomas Keneally AO DistFRSN

Friday 22 June 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

The Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts — 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:

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

Combined AIP and RSNSW event

Richard Garrett  “Big science - exploring the future of the world’s
  most exciting STEM challenges and developments”

  Professor Richard Garrett
  Manager, Industry and External Engagement
  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
  Organisation

Tuesday 26 June 2018
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Road Lucas Heights

Presented by the Australian Institute of Physics, NSW Branch, the Royal Society of NSW, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

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

Wednesday 6 June 2018
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

This was the first OGM and Open Lecture held at the Society's new home venue, the State Library of NSW.

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 was about. Rather, Ben described 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 explained the biological basis of their behaviour and described 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.

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”

Friday 18 May 2018
Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

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

Pollock Memorial Lecture 2018

morello small   “Engineering for understanding:
   how building quantum devices unveils
   the meaning of quantum mechanics”
   
   Professor Andrea Morello
   Professor of Quantum Engineering
   UNSW Sydney

Wednesday 2 May 2018
Club Bar, Roundhouse, UNSW Sydney, Kensington 2052

The Pollock Memorial Lectureship is awarded for research in physics.  It is jointly 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 Royal Society of NSW for 35 years.

Over a century after the establishment of quantum mechanics, the popular – and sometimes even the professional – literature is still permeated by the myth that quantum mechanics is weird and no one understands it. Yet the 21st century will probably go into history as the era of quantum engineering, when the peculiar effects allowed by quantum physics were first harnessed to create unprecedented functionalities.  In this lecture, Professor Morello explanied and illustrated how the ambitious project of building a quantum computer can help us gain intimacy with the quantum world and, with it, deepen our conceptual and practical understanding of it.

Andrea Morello is a Professor of Quantum Engineering at UNSW Sydney and a Program Manager in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He grew up near Torino and graduated from the Politecnico di Torino in 1998. He then completed his PhD in the birthplace of low-temperature physics, the Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratorium in Leiden, Netherlands, followed by a postdoc at UBC in Vancouver. He joined UNSW in late 2006. He and his team were the first in the world to demonstrate the operation of a single-electron and a single-nucleus quantum bit in silicon. They still hold the record for quantum memory time, and the most accurate demonstration of quantum entanglement in the solid state. For these achievements, Andrea was awarded a Eureka Prize (2011), the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year (2013), the David Syme Research Prize (2013), and the NSW Science & Engineering Award (2014), and he was the inaugural winner of the R. Landauer & C.H. Bennett Award for Quantum Computing (2017).

The lecture recording is now available to watch on YouTube, whilst a news story and gallery is available on the UNSW Engineering website.

Is the Enlightenment dead? Lecture 5: sophistry

Paxinos

  “The Enlightenment has failed”

  Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO
  School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

This event’s unique format featured an optional buffet dinner followed by the sophistry and live music.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO led an interactive sophistry that discussed the statement “the Enlightenment has failed” and the extent to which Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz is correct in his view that “global deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”. Attendees were encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO completed his BA at The University of California at Berkeley, his PhD at McGill University, and spent a postdoctoral year at Yale University. He and Charles Watson are the authors of The Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates. With over 50,000 citations across its 7 Editions (March 2014), it is the third most cited book in science after Molecular Cloning and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Prof Paxinos has also published another 45 books on the structure of the brain of humans and experimental animals, his most recent being MRI/DTI Atlas of the Rat Brain. His work was recognised by an AO, Ramaciotti Medal, Humboldt Prize, a $4 million NHMRC Australia Fellowship and the NSW Premier’s Prize for Excellence in Medical Biological Sciences in 2015. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a corresponding member of the Academy of Athens. His novel In His Image was published in Greek in 2015 (English version pending).

This was the fifth and final in a series of lectures on the theme "Is the Enlightenment dead?" co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Other lectures in the series:
Lecture 1“Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” Susannah Fullerton OAM FRSN, Author, lecturer and literary tour leader, 4 September 2017
Lecture 2: “The freedom to use your own intelligence: The Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, 6 November 2017
Lecture 3: "Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” Kim Mckay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum, 5 February 2018
Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM FAHA, Emeritus Curator, New South Wales State Library, 1 March 2018

AGM and 1262nd OGM and open lecture

Paul Fennell

  “The decarbonisation of industry”

  Professor Paul Fennell
  Professor of Clean Energy
  Imperial College London

The evening began with the AGM, at which there was an election of Council members

Wednesday 4 April 2018
Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

In order to meet the IPCC recommendation for an 80% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050, industries will be required to drastically reduce their emissions. To meet these targets, technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) must be part of the economic set of decarbonisation options for industry. Options for decarbonising four of the largest industrial sectors (the iron and steel industry, the cement industry, the petroleum refining industry and the pulp and paper industry) as well as selected high-purity sources of CO2 were discussed. The factors found to have the greatest overall impact were the initial cost of CCS at the start of deployment and the start date at which large scale deployment is started.  The talk then moved on to the applications of high temperature solid looping cycles (Calcium and Chemical Looping) and their integration with different industries, including research conducted at IC investigating the applications of pressurized calcium looping.  The presentation also included an update on research conducted as part of the EU ASCENT and LEILAC projects.

Paul Fennell talking

  Paul Fennell giving his talk

Paul Fennell is a Professor of Clean Energy at Imperial College London. He obtained his degree in Chemical Engineering and PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is a Chartered Chemical Engineer and Scientist and Fellow of the IChemE. He also has Chaired the Institution of Chemical Engineers Clean Energy SIG, was a previous member of the International Energy Authority High-Temperature Solid Looping Cycles Network Executive, and has written reports for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on future technologies for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and carbon capture readiness. He has been director of Imperial College’s Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage and is the deputy director (CO2 capture) of the recently re-funded UKCCSRC. He has published 100 + papers since 2005 and is the 2015 winner of the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ Ambassador prize. His interests are broad, encompassing waste utilisation, cement production and phytoremediation, as well as carbon capture and storage.

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies

 

Robin Grimes   “Exciting materials for energy
    applications in 2050”
 
  Professor Robin Grimes
  Professor of Materials Physics
  Imperial College London
  Chief Scientific Advisor
  UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Date: Wednesday 14 March 2018
Venue: UNSW Colombo Theatre

Professor Grimes’ talk focused on exciting developments in materials for energy applications and how they will improve the reliability, safety and economics of future energy systems.

Professor Grimes is Professor of Materials Physics at University College London. He has been Director of the Imperial Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College, London, since 2008 and became Director of the Imperial College Rolls Royce University Technology Centre in Nuclear Engineering in 2010. His research is focused on the use of high performance computing techniques to understand the behaviour of materials for energy applications including nuclear fission and fusion, fuel cells, batteries and solar cells. He is also Principal Investigator of the Research Council’s UK Nuclear Fission consortium project. In 2013 he was appointed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Chief Scientific Advisor responsible for providing advice to the Foreign Secretary, Ministers and officials on science, technology and innovation.

Four societies logos

1261st OGM and Open Lecture

“Precision healthcare – the coming revolution in medicine”

Leslie Burnett

  Professor Leslie Burnett
  Chief Medical Officer of Genome One
  Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Date:  Wednesday 7 March 2018, 6:00 for 6:30 pm
Venue:  Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Medicine has entered a period of major transformation. Advances in DNA sequencing have led to an explosion in data, information and knowledge about how the genes in our genome work. In turn, this is opening new avenues for diagnosis and treatment of both rare and common disorders. Leslie gave a brief refresher overview of genetics and genomics, including the range of genetic tests available culminating in whole genome analysis. This analysis is now available in Australia, and Australia is at the forefront of the world. Examples were given of the application of genomic techniques to “precision medicine”, where a person’s genetic makeup is used to target treatments based on their specific needs. The era of preventative medicine and precision healthcare has arrived, but it will be accompanied with the need to recognise and responsibly address some complex ethical and societal issues.

Professor Leslie Burnett is Chief Medical Officer of Genome.One, in the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Leslie has pioneered the development of many pathology and genetics initiatives, including being a Medical Director for the accreditation of Australasia’s first Whole Genome Sequencing laboratory and founding Australia’s first Community Genetics program.

He is a clinical pathologist with experience in both the public and private health sectors, and is a recipient of many awards for business and technical excellence, service excellence and community service. He has served as ministerial appointee, chairman, or president of a number of national and international bodies in pathology and genetics.

Professor Burnett is Conjoint Professor at the St Vincent’s Clinical School, UNSW Australia, Honorary Professor in Pathology and Genetic Medicine in the Sydney Medical School, and has been an Honorary Associate of the School of Information Technologies, at the University of Sydney. His current interests are in the areas of genomic pathology, genetic screening, bioinformatic modelling of population genetics and cell biology processes, and quality assurance. He is a passionate teacher and communicator about the genetics and genomics revolution.

Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library

Paul Brunton

  Paul Brunton OAM
  Emeritus Curator 
  State Library of NSW

Thursday 1 March 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

The penal colony of New South Wales was a child of the Enlightenment. It was founded on the belief in personal improvement and progress. It was not a dumping ground for convicts but an experiment in Enlightenment values. Libraries could play a key role in the moral and intellectual improvement of the individual. This talk will discuss the foundations of four libraries: Australian Subscription Library and Reading Room [now the State Library of New South Wales] (1826), Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts Library (1833), Evandale [Tasmania] Subscription Library (1847), and the Melbourne Public Library [now State Library of Victoria] (1854), and the Enlightenment values which guided their founders.

Paul Brunton OAM, FAHA is Emeritus Curator, State Library of New South Wales. He worked with the Mitchell Library’s Australiana collections for 40 years and was Curator of Manuscripts from 1986 to 2001 and Senior Curator from 2002-2012. Paul has published on archives administration and on various aspects of the State Library’s collection. He was President of the Australian Society of Archivists, 1991-1993. He was curator of the exhibition Matthew Flinders: the Ultimate Voyage which opened at the State Library in 2001, and traveled nationally during 2002-2003. His annotated edition of Flinders’ letters, Matthew Flinders: personal letters from an extraordinary life, was published in 2002.

This is the fourth in a series of lectures on the theme “Is the Enlightenment dead?” being co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton FRSN, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 3: "Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum, on 5 February  2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

1260th OGM and Open Lecture

Royal Society of NSW Scholarship Award Winners for 2018

Grace Causer, Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, University of Wollongong
Yu-wei Lin, Advanced Drug Delivery Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney
Cara Van Der Wal, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

Wednesday 7 February 2018
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Royal Society of NSW Scholarships
The Royal Society of New South Wales Scholarships recognise outstanding achievements by individuals working towards a research degree in a science-related field within New South Wales or the Australian Capital Territory. Each year three scholarships of $500 plus and a complimentary year of membership of the Society are awarded. The award winners give talks about their research at the first OGM and Public Lecture each year.

 Grace causer 
 “Uncovering hidden nanoscale worlds
    with neutrons”

  Grace Causer
  University of Wollongong and
  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
  Organisation

For decades, neutrons have been used to probe almost all kinds of matter to unveil hidden characteristics, such as, the dynamics of chemical reactions, the performance of engineering components under strain, and the properties of low-dimensional systems. By reflecting polarised neutrons off layered structures, scientists have been able to gain unique insights into magnetic surfaces and ultra-thin films. Fundamentally, scientific insights gained from neutron scattering have been, and will continue to be, important for the development of future thin-film-based technologies. For example, giant magnetoresistive structures, for which Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics, have revolutionised computer technology. In this talk, In her talk Grace discussed a number of prototype thin-film devices which she has investigated as part of her PhD research. Specifically, the interface physics of an exemplar high-density magnetic recording device formed by ion-beam irradiation, and a magnetic thin-film sensor designed to act as a safety switch in next-generation vehicles powered by hydrogen, will be discussed.

 ****

Wayne Lin small
  “Developing new ways to treat ‘superbugs’
   using old antibiotics: Are we there yet?”

  Yu-wei (Wayne) Lin
  Advanced Drug Delivery Group
  Faculty of Pharmacy 
  University of Sydney

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health globally. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa is at the top of the 2017 World Health Organisation Priority Pathogen List that requires the utmost need for novel antibiotics. MDR P. aeruginosa often causes life-threatening lung infections particularly in immune-compromised patients such as those with cystic fibrosis. As no novel classes of antibiotics will be available for many years to come, polymyxins, a class of ‘old’ antibiotics, are being increasingly used as a last-line therapy for lung infections caused by MDR P. aeruginosa. Over the last decade, inhalation of polymyxins has become a complementary practice for treating life-threatening lung infections. Notably, currently used inhalational dosage regimens of polymyxins are empirical, and this is likely a cause for the increased polymyxin resistance. Yu-wei described the overarching theme of his PhD research, which is to investigate the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics/toxicodynamics of inhaled polymyxins, to maximise antimicrobial efficacy while minimising toxicity and emergence of resistance.

****

Cara Van der Wal small
  “Reconstructing the phylogeny and evolutionary
   history of mantis shrimps using molecular data”

  Cara Van Der Wal
  School of Life and Environmental Sciences
  University of Sydney

Mantis shrimps (Crustacea: Stomatopoda) are ecologically and often economically significant crustaceans, being dominant predators in many coastal ecosystems and serving as an important fisheries resource. They are a highly specialised rather than highly diversified lineage, with highly modified hunting appendages and sophisticated vision. Despite these unique attributes much remains unknown about stomatopod systematics, evolution and phylogeny. To fill this knowledge gap, I used molecular sequence data to estimate the phylogeny and evolutionary timescale of the group. Her research results show that Stomatopoda appeared in the Carboniferous and that the specialised spearing appendage evolved prior to the specialised smashing appendage. Additionally, the results showed that morphological complexity within stomatopod eyes has reduced independently in different lineages, and that this reduction might be linked to the environment. The results have significantly added to the knowledge of stomatopod evolution and diversification, suggesting systematic revisions may be required.

Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum

Kim McKay Enlightenment 3  

  Kim McKay AO
  Director and CEO
  The Australian Museum

Monday 5 February 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

This was the third in a series of lectures on the theme “Is the Enlightenment dead?” being co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, talked about the Museum’s 190-year history and its evolution as an expression of the Enlightenment.

The Australian Museum, along with its sister museums in Victoria and South Australia, was a major focus of the intellectual life of colonial Australia and at the forefront of contemporary science and natural history research. Kim also described the Museum’s recent transformation during her tenure as Director and CEO, and the challenges that lie ahead, particularly visitation, digitisation and international collaboration and why Museums will continue to play an important role in shaping society.

Other talks in the series:

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW, on 1 March 2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

European tour: the history of science

Academy Travel
Padua – Florence – Paris – London

A tour for the Royal Society of NSW in conjunction with the State Library of NSW Foundation

19 September – 4 October 2019

Overview

Explore the history of science, from Vesalius in Padua to Galileo in Florence and the flourishing of modern science in Paris and London. This 16-day private tour for the Royal Society of NSW in conjunction with The State Library of NSW Foundation includes guided visits to many exceptional museums, rare access to collections, libraries and archival material, and the expert guidance of specialists and curators. It follows the great story of modern science, taking you from Padua to Florence, Paris and London, and includes day trips to Bologna, Siena and Cambridge. A four-night pre-tour extension to Venice is also available.

Discover
• The birth of modern science, from Galileo’s telescopes to Darwin’s theory of evolution
• The history of medicine: Vesalius in Padua, Pasteur in Paris and the medical collections of London
• The transmission of knowledge, from rare books and manuscripts to the modern museum
• The history of the university at Padua, Bologna, Paris and Cambridge
• Interaction between the arts and sciences in moments of great change from the Renaissance to the modern world.

Tour details

Dates: 19 September – 4 October 2019
Price: $9,270 pp. twin share; $2,280 single supplement
For more information and to register your interest, contact Academy Travel on 9235 0023 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Maximum group size: 20

Tour highlights

• Padua: the world’s first anatomy theatre, the oldest botanic garden and Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel
• Special access to library collections in Florence, Paris and London
• Private tour of the Pompidou Centre, Paris’ modern art museum
• Day trips to Siena, Bologna, Cambridge and Greenwich
• Specialist museums dedicated to Pasteur, Curie, Galileo and Darwin
• London science: from the manuscripts of the Wellcome Library to the National Science Museum.

Itinerary

map of Europe Tour 2019Days 1–3: arrive Padua.  Visit the world’s oldest anatomy theatre and oldest botanic garden, and the Scrovegni Chapel, Giotto’s masterpiece. Day trip to Bologna.
Days 4–6: explore Florence, including the Galileo Museum, Uffizi, with special access to rare collections. Day trip to Siena and the wonderful cuisine of Chianti.
Days 7–10: discover a different side of Paris, from special museums dedicated to Pasteur and Curie to a private tour of the Pompidou Centre.
Days 11–15: arrive London. Enjoy visits to Down House (the home of Charles Darwin), the National Observatory and prime meridian at Greenwich, and a range of museums, from the Museum of Natural History to the private collection of the Royal College of Physicians. Day trip to Cambridge.
Day 16: departure.

Tour leader

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN has had a distinguished career in medical research and has published books on the early mapping of Australia. He has led many similar successful expeditions. Expert guides will meet the group in each destination.

Calendar of Sydney meetings in 2018

Monday 5 February

SMSA/RSNSW Enlightenment series lecture 3

“Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum”

Kim McKay AO, Director of the Australian Museum

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 7 February

1260th OGM and open lecture: 2016 Scholarship presentations

Grace Causer, University of Wollongong & ANSTO

“Novel and artificial nanomaterials”

Yu-wei Lin, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney

“New ways to treat ‘superbugs’ with old antibiotics”

Cara Van Der Wal, University of Sydney & Australian Museum

“Evolutionary history and diversity of mantis shrimps”

Venue: Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Thursday 1 March

SMSA/RSNSW Enlightenment series lecture 4

“Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library”

Paul Brunton OAM FAHA, Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 7 March

1261st OGM and open lecture

“DNA and personalised medicine”

Professor Leslie Burnett FRSN, Garvan Institute

Venue: Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 14 March

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies

“Exciting materials for energy applications in 2050”

Robin Grimes, Professor of Materials Physics, Imperial College London

Venue: UNSW Colombo Theatre

Time: 5:30 for 6pm

Wednesday 4 April

AGM and 1262nd OGM and open lecture

“The decarbonisation of industry”

Paul Fennell, Professor of Clean Energy, Imperial College London

Venue: Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Time: 5.45 for 6pm start of AGM. Open lecture and OGM 6.30pm

Thursday 5 April

SMSA/RSNSW Enlightenment series lecture 5

“Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!”

Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FASSA FAA FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 2 May

Pollock memorial lecture

“Engineering for understanding: how building quantum devices unveils the meaning of quantum mechanics”

Professor Andrea Morello FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Club Bar, The Roundhouse, UNSW, Kensington

Time: 5.30 for 6‒7.30pm

Friday 18 May

Annual dinner of the Royal Society of NSW

Guests of honour: The Honourable General David Hurley AC DSC (ret'd.) Governor of NSW and Mrs Hurley

Presentation of awards for 2017

Distinguished Fellow's address: Tom Keneally AO DistFRSN
“Mungo Man imagined: writing the ultimate historical novel”

Venue: Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6.30 for 7pm

Wednesday 6 June

1263rd OGM and open lecture

“No sex please, we're Cape bees”

Ben Oldroyd FRSN, Professor of Behavioural Genetics, University of Sydney

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Friday 22 June

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 1

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

Thomas Keneally AO DistFRSN

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Tuesday 26 June

AIP / RACI / RSNSW / ANSTO event

“Big science: exploring the future of the world’s most exciting STEM challenges and developments”

Professor Richard Garrett, Manager, Industry and External Engagement, ANSTO

Venue: ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights

Time: 5pm optional tour, 6pm refreshments, 6.30pm presentation

Wednesday 4 July

1264th OGM and open lecture

“Can art really make a difference?”

Joanna Mendelssohn FRSN, Honorary Associate Professor, Art & Design, UNSW

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Monday 23 July

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 2

“A scientist who chaired the group that eliminated a disease from the world”

Peter Baume AC DistFRSN

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 1 August

Poggendorff lecture

“Establishing a sustainable nitrogen diet to agricultural intensive cropping industries”

Brent Kaiser, Professor of Legume Biology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

Venue: New Law Annex 432, University of Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 8 August

1265th OGM and open lecture

“The final frontier - on the complexity and frailty of human memory”

Associate Professor Muireann Irish FRSN, University of Sydney

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Monday 13 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 1

“Will self-driving cars make us safer?”

Professor Ann Williamson FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 12.30‒1.30pm

Tuesday 14 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 2

“Nanotech: what is so special about small stuff?”

Rosie Hicks, CEO, Australian National Fabrication Facility

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 12.30‒1.30pm

Tuesday 14 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 3

“Ethics, emotions and elegance in artificial intelligence”

Professor Simeon Simoff FRSN, Western Sydney University

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Friday 17 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 4

“Wine and medicine: an Australian perspective”

Dr Philip Norrie FRSN

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 5 September

1266th OGM and open lecture

“Eyewitness evidence”

Professor Richard Kemp, University of NSW

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Thursday 6 September

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 3

“Three for the price of one: A day at the races”

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 3 October

1267th OGM and open lecture

“3D printing of body parts”

Professor Gordon Wallace AO FRSN, University of Wollongong

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 7 November

1268th OGM and open lecture

“Gravitational waves”

Associate Professor Tara Murphy, University of Sydney

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Monday 12 November

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 4

“tba”

Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FBA, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

?? November

AIP Postgraduate Awards Day and Jak Kelly Award judging

“tba”

Venue: tba

Time: tba

Thursday 29 November

Royal Society of NSW and Four Learned Academies Forum

“Towards a prosperous yet sustainable Australia — what now for the ‘lucky country’?”

Venue: NSW Government House, Sydney

Time: tba

Wednesday 5 December

1269th OGM and open lecture

Royal Society of NSW 2018 Jak Kelly Award and Christmas party

“physics - tba”

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

1259th OGM and Christmas party

“How to store light: an optical memory based on sound waves”

Moritz Jak Kelly 2017 revised  
  Moritz Merklein
  Department of Physics
  University of Sydney

  Jak Kelly Award winner for 2017

Wednesday 6 December 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

The Jak Kelly Award was created in honour of Professor Jak Kelly (1928 - 2012), who was Head of Physics at University of NSW from 1985 to 1989, was made an Honorary Professor of University of Sydney in 2004, and was President of the Royal Society of NSW in 2005 and 2006. Its purpose is to encourage excellence in postgraduate research in physics. It is supported by the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Institute of Physics, NSW branch. The winner was selected from a short list of candidates who made presentations at a recent joint meeting at UNSW of the Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the Royal Society of NSW.

The Jak Kelly Award was presented to Moritz Merklein by John Hardie FRSN, a past president of the Society.

In his lecture Moritz presented a memory for optical data that is based on sound waves and has the potential to revolutionize next-generation computer chips. Today, mediating heat is one of the most significant challenges in computing, particularly in large data centres. Photonic interconnects can solve this challenge, connecting different processing units without generating heat, while offering a broad bandwidth and data throughput. However, the vast speed of light is imposing new challenges on these integrated circuits that harness light as information carriers, requiring an optical memory to slow down information for buffering, synchronization, re-routing and further processing of the data. Controlling the speed of light is challenging, and so far no method has been developed that reaches the required bandwidth, the fractional delay, and is compatible with complex optical data encoding schemes, and least of all can be integrated into a photonic circuit. Transferring the optical data to sound waves can provide a powerful solution to this challenge, enabling to slow down of the flow of information on the chip. It is like storing a flash of lightning inside thunder.

Moritz Merklein received his Physics Diplom from the University of Konstanz, Germany in 2012. His thesis dealt with the fabrication of silicon nitride nanostructures and the characterisation of their mechanical modes using ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy. Moritz joined the stimulated Brillouin scattering group in the Department of Physics at The University of Sydney as a PhD student in 2014. During his PhD, he has made significant contributions to the field of stimulated Brillouin scattering, which describes the interaction between sound and light waves. His research supervisors are Professor Benjamin Eggleton and Dr. Birgit Stiller. During his PhD studies, he served as the president of the University of Sydney optics student chapter and has engaged in many outreach activities.

1258th OGM and open lecture

Pamela Griffith   “Women artists: barriers and frustrations”

   Pamela Griffith

   Artist, designer, master printer and author

Wednesday 1 November 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Pamela Griffith shared some of the joys and challenges she has encountered as a female artist. Her talk was illustrated by images of her work and some works of women artists of the past. 

Females are often the model and rarely the artist, and this has led to some offensive and exploitative works around the female subject matter that have coloured the way people see women in art. It has also affected how women see themselves. Pamela speculated on where historically female artists acquired their training and how they were assisted to have an art career by their families and patrons. She showed how they overcame social difficulties and barriers to making art. She tracks what happened to their art.

The presentation attempted to explain art history’s omission of almost all women from its canon. There is an ongoing resistance of art museums to buying art made by women. Few women have solo shows before they are dead. Most women who go to art schools and make up the majority never have their work displayed in any big museums or bought for major collections. Does this mean that women at art schools are wasting their time?

Pamela Griffith is an an artist, designer, master printer and author. She has had over 100 one-woman exhibitions in over 30 galleries. Her work is included in National, State and Regional Gallery collections across Australia and in major corporate and private collections in Australia, Europe, USA and Asia. Major commissions include Bicentennial and Macquarie toiles; Mary McKillop toile; portraits of distinguished Australians such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Sir William Dean, Cardinal George Pell, Professor Marie Bashir and Elena Kats-Chernin; numerous etching editions for corporations including Qantas, Comalco, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She is also the author of over 80 articles and two books on art.

Royal Society events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes a number of events in Sydney throughout the year.  These include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January).  Society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given to the membership.  This is followed by a talk and optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and talk, and to cover refreshments.  The dinner is a separate charge, and must be booked in advance.  All OGMs are open to members of the public.

The first OGM in February has speakers drawn from the Royal Society Scholarship winners, and the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April event is our black-tie Annual Dinner and Distinguished Fellow lecture.

Other events are held in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • The Four Societies lecture (with the Australian Institute of Energy, the Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia [Sydney Division] and the Australian Nuclear Association)
  • The Forum (with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia)
  • The Dirac lecture (with UNSW Australia and the Australian Institute of Physics)
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture (with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute)
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