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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

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

Wednesday 7 March 2018
Union, University & 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

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 AM 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

“Griffith Taylor: geology and geography from the Terra Nova to Seaforth”

Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FBA, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Tuesday 13 November

AIP Postgraduate Awards Day and Jak Kelly Award judging

Guest speaker: Tibor G. Molnar (Alice and Bob in Wonderland)

Venue: G59/60 Old Main Building, School of Physics, UNSW

Time: student presentations 2‒5pm, guest talk 6.30pm

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: 9am‒4pm, followed by a drinks reception

Wednesday 5 December

1269th OGM and open lecture

Royal Society of NSW 2018 Jak Kelly Award and Christmas party

“Hydroxyl as a probe of the molecular interstellar medium”

Jak Kelly Award winner Anita Petzler (Macquarie University)

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Is the Enlightenment dead?

RSNSW/SMSA Joint Lecture Series

Diderot's Encyclopedie frontispiece
detail from the frontispiece of Diderot’s Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 1772

Dates: see below

Venue: all sessions will be held at the Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney

Time: 6 pm drinks, for 6.30-7.30 pm

Cost: $15 for SMSA & Royal Society Fellows/Members, $20 for non-members and friends (per lecture) — all are welcome

This series of five talks, co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, brings together the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education, the discussion of ideas, and discovery. The series is expected to initiate a period of interactive events and activities to the mutual benefit of both societies. The lectures will be presented by an outstanding group of experts in the field, with the topics chosen to represent a broad overview of the Enlightenment from its beginnings as the public recognized and discussed the meanings of change from a long period of mythology and dogma, to grasping reality and what that meant to them and their lives, to its impact on our society today.

The Enlightenment was founded on reasoned discourse and scientific enquiry, connecting with the idea of human equality and the rights of the individual. It was a powerful influence through disruptive revolutions in the 18th century on European and American societies. But what influence did it have on our Australian society, and the institutions entrusted to inform the population of new ideas and discovery? On a more concerning note, to what extent is Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz correct in his view that “Global deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”?

These five lectures will capture the beginnings of the Enlightenment, its immediate impact on Colonial Australia, and two portals of the Enlightenment and their adaptation to changes around them over 200 years. The series will conclude with an interactive Sophistry, taking the theme of the series, and discussing this in the context of contemporary Australian life.

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

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

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