Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-1

Professor Ryan Loxton Mathematics in Industry: Optimisation in Action —
Unlocking Value in the Mining, Energy, and Agriculture Industries

Professor Ryan Loxton
Curtin University of Technology

A joint public lecture held as part of the Mathematics in Industry Study Group and supported by the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW, the University of Newcastle,the Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics Division of the Australian Mathematical Society, and the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Conference Sponsorship Program.

Date: Friday, 31 January 2020, 5pm for 5.30–6.30pm
Venue: Newcastle City Hall (Hunter Room), 290 King Street, Newcastle, NSW 2300 

Optimisation is a branch of applied mathematics that focuses on using mathematical techniques to optimise complex systems. Real-world optimisation problems are typically enormous in scale, with hundreds of thousands of inter-related variables and constraints, multiple conflicting objectives, and numerous candidate solutions that can easily exceed the total number of atoms in the solar system, overwhelming even the fastest supercomputers. Mathematical optimisation has numerous applications in business and industry, but there is a big mismatch between the optimisation problems studied in academia (which tend to be highly structured problems) and those encountered in practice (which are non-standard, highly unstructured problems). This lecture gives a non-technical overview of the presenter’s recent experiences in building optimisation models and practical algorithms in the oil and gas, mining, and agriculture sectors. Some of this practical work has led to academic journal articles, showing that the gap between industry and academia can be overcome.

Ryan Loxton is a professor and the discipline leader for mathematics and statistics in the School of Electrical Engineering, Computing, and Mathematical Sciences at Curtin University. Ryan’s research interests lie in the areas of optimisation, optimal control, and data science. His work has been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, and various industry partners, from small start-ups to large corporates. In particular, Ryan’s ARC grants include two prestigious, highly competitive fellowships—an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship during 2011–14 and a current ARC Future Fellowship that runs until the end of 2021. His work focuses on using advanced mathematics to optimise complex processes in a wide range of applications such as mining, oil and gas, agriculture, and industrial process control. Ryan’s algorithms underpin the Quantum software platform developed by Aurora Global for tracking, executing, and optimising shutdown maintenance operations at mine sites. Ryan is a passionate advocate for industry engagement and has worked extensively with industry where he has led demand-driven research projects with many companies, both big and small, including Woodside Energy, Vekta Automation, Fleetcare, and Global Grain Handling Solutions. Ryan was the recipient of the 2018 JH Michell Medal from the Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics Division (ANZIAM) as the outstanding researcher of the year, and the 2014 West Australian Young Scientist of the year. Ryan currently leads the optimisation theme in the new Australian Research Council’s Industrial Training Centre on Transforming Maintenance through Data Science, which is funded by a $3.9 million grant from the Australian Research Council plus matched funding from industry partners Alcoa, BHP Billiton, and Roy Hill.


Calendar of Meetings 2020

RSNSW SealThe 2020 Event Program of the Royal Society of NSW concluded for the year on 9 December 2020.

The 2021 Events Program will be posted on this website during January 2021. 

This page lists the Calandar of Meetings for the Royal Society of NSW in 2020.

Follow the links below for meetings held in Sydney, in Newcastle by the Hunter Branch, and in Mittagong by the Southern Highlands Branch.


Sydney Meetings 2020


Wednesday, 12 February 

6.00 for 6.30pm AEDT

1280th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture: 2019 RSNSW Scholarship Presentations

Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Drought and wellbeing in Australian rural communities: implications for improving adaptive capacity and resilience to drought adaptive capacity and resilience to drought
Ms Emma Austin
PhD Student, Centre for Water, Climate and Land, University of Newcastle

Searches for Extended Higgs Sectors, Flavour Physics Anomalies and Dark Matter at the LHC
Mr Shayam Balaji
PhD Student, School of Physics, University of Sydney

Charting the Extracellular Matrix Through Breast Tumour Progression
Mr Michael Papanicolao
PhD Student, Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Botanical biofilters for the phytofiltration of urban air pollutants
Mr Thomas Pettit
PhD Student, School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney

Thursday, 20 February 

5.30 for 6.00pm AEDT

Royal Society of NSW Liversidge Lecture

Venue: The Galleries, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney, Kensington

The journey from simple polymers to nano-footballs: opportunities for better cancer treatment
Scientia Professor Martina Stenzel FAA
School of Chemistry, UNSW Sydney

Thursday, 27 February 

6.00 for 6.30pm AEDT

Speaking the Music…The Magic of the Solo Violin
A joint presentation of the of the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Dr David Hush and Anna Da Silva Chen (violinist)

Wednesday, 4 March 

6.00 for 6.30pm AEDT

1281st Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Soils: the least understood part of science, yet vital for all of us
Professor Robin J. Batterham
Former Chief Scientist of Australia and President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and currently Kernot Professor of Engineering, University of Melbourne

Friday, 6 March 

6.00 for 6.30pm AEDT


Frontiers of Science Forum
A joint forum presented by the Royal Society of NSW, the Teachers’ Guild of NSW, the Australian Institute of Physics, and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

New frontiers in photonics —the science of light
Professor Ben Eggleton FAA FTSE FRSN
School of Physics and Nano Institute, University of Sydney

The mathematics of health honey bee hives
Professor Mary Myerscough
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney

Fitbits for sharks: combining biology and data science
Ms Julianna Kadar
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

Drug discovery inspired by natural products
Professor Richard Payne
School of Chemistry, University of Sydney

Thursday, 12 March 

6.00 for 6.30pm AEDT

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies
A joint meeting presented by the the Australian Institute of Energy, the Australian Nuclear Association, the Sydney Division of Engineers Australia, and the Royal Society of NSW

Venue: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Challenges for the Future: Energy Storage and Waste Plastic—Two Australian solutions going global
Professor Thomas Maschmeyer HonDSc FAA FTSE FMAE FRSN
School of Chemistry, University of Sydney


Thursday, 19 March


On the Shoulders of Giants
A joint presentation of the of the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the Royal Society of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Henry Carmichael: Educational Progressive, Social Reformer, Secularist and Winegrower
Dr Lesley Scanlon
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the University of Sydney

Wednesday, 22 April

6.00pm AEST

153rd Annual General Meeting (6.00pm)
1282nd Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture (immediately following)

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Presidential Reflections—science stuff and the President’s random path
Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO FAA FRSN
President, Royal Society of NSW

Thursday, 21 May

7.00–8.30pm AEST

[email protected]: May 2020

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Ten: the Mapping of Colonial Australia
Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
University of Newcastle and the Royal Society of NSW

Wednesday, 3 June

6.30pm AEDT

1283rd Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Drinking for three: Mother, baby and society
Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FRSN FAHMS
University of Sydney and Sydney Children’s Hostpital, Westmead

Saturday, 27 June

7.00pm AEST

Virtual Annual Dinner, Distinguished Fellow's Lecture and 199th Anniversary

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Education and Evidence in a Post-Truth, Post-COVID World
Distinguished Professor Brian Schmidt AC FRS DistFRSN FAA
Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University

Wednesday, 8 July

6.30pm AEST

1284th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Why Art Matters in Times of Crisis
Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE FRSN
Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Wednesday, 5 August 

6.30pm AEST

1285th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Growing Black Tall Poppies 
Professor Peter Radoll
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), University of Canberra

Tuesday, 18 August

6.00pm AEST

Science Week Lectures

Venue: Zoom Webinar

The COVID Curve in Context:  or Back to the Future—something old and some new 
Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW and University of Newcastle

Wednesday, 19 August

3.30pm AEST

The Clancy Collection—an Exhibition of Maps

Venue: Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Sydney

Charting a Course: a 500-year story of discovery and development of Sydney 
Guide: Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW

Thursday, 20 August

6.00pm AEST

Science Week Lectures

Venue: Zoom Webinar

The Periodic Table: a medley of haphazard facts falling into line and order 
Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert
Royal Society of NSW and UNSW Sydney

Wednesday, 2 September

6.30pm AEST

1286th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

The Dawn of Molecular Medicine - Gene Therapy: Past, Present and Future 
Professor John Rasko AO
Head, Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program, Centenary Institute

Wednesday, 7 October

6.30pm AEDT

1287th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Where now for the study of time? 
Professor Huw Price FAHA FBA
Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Wednesday, 14 October

3.30pm AEDT

The Clancy Collection—an Exhibition of Maps (repeated)

Venue: Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Sydney

Charting a Course: a 500 year story of discovery and development of Sydney 
Guide: Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW

Thursday, 5 November

9.00am - 4.30pm AEDT

Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Annual Forum

Venue: Government House, Sydney, Live Streaming and subsequent availability on YouTube

After COVID-19: Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times

Wednesday, 11 November

6.30pm AEDT

1288th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Where have all the ulcers gone, long time passing?
Professor Thomas Borody and Emeritus Professor Adrian Lee

Wednesday, 9 December

6.30pm AEDT

1289th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Dispelling climate change myths  how ocean physics can help explain surprises in the modern-day climate record
Scientia Professor Matthew England FRSN FAA

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Hunter Branch Meetings


Friday, 31 January

5.00 for 5.30pm AEDT

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-1

Venue: Newcastle City Hall (Hunter Room), 290 King Street, Newcastle

Mathematics in Industry: Optimisation in Action — Unlocking Value in the Mining, Energy, and Agriculture Industries
Professor Ryan Loxton
Curtin University

Wednesday, 27 May

5.30pm AEST

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-2

Venue: Zoom Webinar

COVID-19 and confusion: the story of a nasty but nice viral receptor
Emeritus Professor Eugenie Lumbers AM DistFRSN FAA
University of Newcastle

Wednesday, 29 July

6.00pm AEST

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-3

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Architecture and the Cultivation of Vitality
Professor Pia Ednie-Brown
University of Newcastle

Wednesday, 27 October

6.00pm AEDT

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-4

Venue: Zoom Webinar

The Engaged University: Advancing Research and Innovation Through Powerful Partnerships
Professor Janet Nelson
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Newcastle

Wednesday, 2 December

6.00pm AEDT

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-5

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Planetary Health: Safeguarding Health in the Anthropocene Epoch
Professor Tony Capon
Monash University

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RSNSW and the Four Academies Forum 2019

Forum Brochure Cover Making SPACE for Australia

Government House, Sydney
7 November 2019

Report by the Forum Convenors:
     Emer. Prof. Roy MacLeod FRSN
     Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN

This year’s Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum devoted to the subject of ‘Making Space for Australia’ drew together, in one day, authoritative voices from the natural, technological and social sciences and the humanities, to consider a range of issues that are likely to inform Australian public policy and public opinion in the decades ahead.

Forum 2019 Governor and Students Held like the four previous Forums, under the gracious Vice Regal Patronage of the Governor of New South Wales and in the ballroom of Government House, Sydney, the inclusive gathering of 140 people represented the Royal Society of NSW, the four Learned Academies, and guests from a cross-section of the space community, including 13 undergraduate students from diverse Faculties across six universities and studying various aspects of space.

Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO, QC, Governor of NSW, reflected during her opening remarks on Australia’s long interest in reading the Heavens, beginning with the earliest Aboriginal observations and understanding of the constellations and their configurations.

Introduced by Professor Anne Green, Chair of the NSW Division of ATSE, the Keynote speaker, Professor Lisa Kewley, emphasized Australia’s strengths in space science while taking us on a tour of the Universe. The next session, Australia in the Space Age , moderated by Professor Jane Hall, President of the Academy of the Social Sciences, heard papers by the space historian and curator, Kerrie Dougherty on ‘Sixty Years of Australia in Space,’ by Dr Megan Clark (Director of the Australian Space Agency), on the Agency and its work; by Dr Kimberley Clayfield, on CSIRO’s ‘Roadmap for Space’; and by Dr Adam Lewis, of Geoscience Australia, on ‘Seeing and Sensing Australia from Space.’

Dr Donna Lawler, Principal of Azimuth Advisory, moderated the session devoted to Space Law, Security and Ethics. Prof Steven Freeland, the distinguished international Space lawyer, summarized the ‘Limits of Law’ in Space, and Dr Ben Piggott of UNSW Canberra reminded us of the military and geopolitical dimensions of Space policy. Dr Nikki Coleman, RAAF chaplain and Space ethicist, explored the ‘Ethical Challenges in Space: Norms and Conventions in Peaceful Spacefaring.’

A third session, expertly conducted by Ms Annie Handmer, historian of science of Sydney University, on Space and People , highlighted key themes in what is fast becoming the ‘humanities of Space’, with papers by Jonathan Webb, of the ABC, on the ‘Promise and Peril of Space’; by Dr Alice Gorman, of Flinders University, on ‘Space Heritage: Artefacts and Archaeology’ (both now challenged by the profusion of Space debris); a theme capped by the writer and novelist Ceridwen Dovey, on ‘Human Visions and Visitors in Space’.

The final session, Australia's Space Economy moderated by Dr Susan Pond AM, Chair of the NSW Smart Sensing Network, brought us back to Earth, welcoming William Barrett, Senior VP of Asia Pacific Space consultants, who addressed Australia’s promising Space Industry, then Paul Scully-Power, AM, one of Australia’s pioneering astronauts, speaking about the challenge presented by ‘Space 2.0: Small Space Satellite’s’. Finally, Group Captain Jason Lind, explained the role that Defence must and is playing in supporting Australia’s Space industry.

Our rapporteur, Dr Brett Biddington, AM, of Canberra, skillfully summarized the day. He reminded the audience that by a unique combination of history, science, and geography, Australia occupies an important place on the front line of continuing discoveries in Space. He noted the tension between the civil and the defence realms in space as well as an even bigger tension emerging between public and private investment in space.

Judging from the RSNSW’s customary post-conference Survey, the Forum met the challenges of the day, inciting a wide range of questions that continued long after the proceedings ended. At the same time, it foreshadowed a number of fresh questions that may well be asked by academics, governments, and the public at large and at future RSNSW events.

To paraphrase CP Snow, Australia has the future in its sights, and SPACE holds great prospects for the next generation. Bearing a distinguished 50-year history of Space engagement and blessed with major Space-related facilities across the country, Australia can play a far-reaching role in the coming years, not only in science and technology but also in law and ethics.

We are reminded, in celebrating this 50th year since Apollo 11, that the Astronauts left a plaque on the moon that said, ‘We came in peace for all Mankind’. The adventure that lies before us is one in which Australia accepts both the challenge and its responsibilities. We can only hope that this sentiment guides our destiny, our fullest achievement, and remains our uppermost goal.



1279th OGM, Jak Kelly Award Lecture and Christmas Party

Gayathri Bharanthan All-integrated mid-infrared laser sources

Gayathri Bharathan — Jak Kelly Award Winner (2019)
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Macquarie University

Date: Wednesday, 4 December 2019, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

The infrared (IR) part of the electromagnetic spectrum is sub-divided into the near (0.8 – 2 μm), mid (2 - 15 μm) and far (15 - 1000 μm) infrared region. Amongst those three, the mid-IR is of particular relevance as it corresponds to photon energies that overlap with the strong vibrational molecular resonances of most common constituents of atmospheric gases and with the liquid water. Potential applications include but are not limited to environmental monitoring, trace molecular detection (e.g. for airport security screening) as well as non-invasive breath analysis where the presence of certain molecules in the human breath can be used as an indicator of a specific disease.

Due to their numerous advantages, fibre lasers represent the ideal light sources for most applications and have therefore become the most widespread used type of lasers in the near-IR. In contrast, mid-IR fibre laser technology is still in its infancy, mainly due the nonexistence of fibre coupled optical components required to form an all-fibre cavity, which severely limits their applicability. The possibility to utilize femtosecond lasers to directly inscribe high-quality and robust integrated components such as fibre Bragg gratings as well as in-fibre polarizers opens a new avenue for the development of future mid-IR all-fibre laser systems. The aim of my research work is therefore to investigate the fabrication of integrated components in mid-IR compatible glasses for the development of high beam quality all-fibre mid-IR lasers.

Gayathri Bharathan completed her Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, India. This was followed by post-graduate studies in VLSI Design from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT Madras). Later, she worked as a lecturer in the Federal Institute of Science and Technology for two years. She then returned to her studies in 2017, relocating to Sydney to pursue a Masters by Research in Photonics at Macquarie University. Her interest in the field of developing lasers for surgical applications led her to continue her studies and she commenced a PhD in March 2018 under the supervision of Dr Alex Fuerbach and Dr Stuart Jackson. At the completion of her PhD, she hopes that she can continue to contribute to the development of new mid-infrared laser sources for practical applications in medicine.


Joint AIP, RSNSW and RACI Open Lecture 2019

Professor Jodie Bradby
   Diamonds and High Pressure Physics
   Professor Jodie Bradby

   The Australian National University

Joint Open Lecture of the Australian Institute of Physics, Royal Society of NSW, and Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Date: Tuesday 12 November 2019, 6.30pm
Venue: University of Technology Sydney, Building 1 (Broadway), Level 4 (ground level from Broadway), Room 6 (northwestern corner of the building)

Carbon is an amazing element that is well-known to crystallize, both as hard and transparent diamond and as soft and opaque graphite. Whilst both these forms of carbon have a range of technologically interesting properties, diamond is particularly remarkable from a technological perspective due to its unique mechanical properties. The ability of diamond to withstand extreme pressure is key for many high-pressure physics experiments. In this talk. Professor Bradby will outline some of the history of the field of high-pressure physics, discuss two methods for synthetic diamond formation (including an overview of the state-of-the-art of diamond growth), and then outline some of her recent work using diamonds to create extreme pressures for new material formation.

Jodie Bradby is a professor in the Research School of Physicsand Engineering at the Australian National University where she leads a group in high pressure physics. She is the current President of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP). She holds a B. App. Sc. (Physics) degree from RMIT in Melbourne Australia, and completed a PhD on ‘Nanoindentation-induced deformation of semiconductors’ at the Australian National University in 2003. As a student, Jodie was awarded a Gold in the Materials Research Societies’ Graduate Student competition in 2002 and is a past recipient of the Philips Cowley-Moodie Award for Australian Electron Microscopy. After completing her doctorate, Jodie was awarded a Sir Keith Murdoch American-Australian Education Fellowship, which funded a project based at Case Western Reserve University in the USA. On her return to Australia, she commenced an Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship and then an ARC QEII fellowship followed by a Future Fellowship (2014-2017). She has held several ARC grants, including Linkage Projects with a start-up company which was formed as a result of her doctoral work. She has published over 100 papers and three patents. She was the AIP Women in Physics Lecturer during 2015.



Women and Science: Lecture 7

Women and Science: Lecture 7      “An Accidental Astronomer”

    Emeritus Professor Anne Green

Date: Thursday, 21 November 2019, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

An Accidental Astronomer

As one of the first women radio astronomers, Anne Green faced unexpected challenges in undertaking panoramic and detailed surveys of the Milky Way Galaxy. Anne will track her career trajectory alongside the evolution of the Molonglo Radio Telescope that has been a pioneering astronomical instrument for more than 50 years. Anne’s journey has produced some exciting discoveries and rewarding collaborations in the study of the structure and ecology of the Galaxy, and has also encompassed observations with several of the world’s most powerful telescopes.

Emeritus Professor Anne Green FTSE FASA FAIP FRSN

Anne Green is presently an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney. She is a graduate in physics from both Melbourne and Sydney Universities. Following her graduate studies at Sydney, she was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn, Germany. Restarting her academic career at Sydney University after a 15 year pause for family and community work in Europe, she joined the School of Physics and progressed from post-doc to professor. During this period, she was Director of the Molonglo Telescope and was appointed as the first female Head of the School of Physics. She has been on numerous national and international astronomy advisory committees, including as President of the Astronomical Society of Australia, and Chair of Astronomy Australia Ltd. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Astronomical Society of Australia, the Australian Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of NSW, and President of the Physics Foundation. Internationally, she is a Member of the Science Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy and has had a role in the early development of the powerful new radio-telescope, the Square Kilometre Array. She was the inaugural co-Chair of the Women in Astronomy Working Group of the International Astronomical Union for six years. Her research career spans 30 years in radio astronomy, studying the structure and ecology of the Milky Way Galaxy and its various constituents. In particular, her discoveries include supernova remnants, astrophysical masers and more recently, cosmological sparklers. She has a career total of over 200 papers with more than 6000 citations and has been a Chief Investigator on grants worth nearly $12 million. Most recently, the Astronomical Society of Australia has established the Anne Green Prize to be awarded to a mid-career scientist for a significant body of work or accomplishment.


Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.


1278th OGM and Open Lecture

Herbert Huppert
   The Beginning of Weather Forecasting:
   Matthew Maury, Robert FitzRoy FRS, and
   L. F. Richardson FRS
   Professor Herbert Huppert FRS FRSN
   University of Cambridge

Joint RSNSW OGM and Open Lecture & Australian Academy of Science’s Selby Public Lecture 2019

Date: Wednesday 6 November 2019, 6pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (enter by Shakespeare Place)

We, with our ancestors, have often lived with unpredicted changes in the weather, even quite dramatic changes. For social and financial reasons it would be extremely beneficial to have accurate weather forecasts — over both land and sea. Quantitative forecasts, not just that it will be relatively hot in summer and cold in winter, were not introduced until the mid 1800’s. How this came about, the individuals whose imagination and hard work made it possible and a short description of the (difficult) physical principles governing the often turbulent motions on many different spatial scales of the atmosphere will be summarized.

Professor Herbert Huppert FRS is Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Geophysics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. His theoretical and laboratory based work has improved our understanding of the behaviour of fluids in and on the Earth’s surface, and his work on convective systems has been crucial for an improved comprehension of our planet’s response to a changing climate. Often in demand as a scientific authority, Herbert served as Chair of a Royal Society working group on bioterrorism, which prepared a report for the British Government, a European Academies working group on Carbon Capture and Storage, which prepared a report for the European Parliament and has acted as an adviser to numerous other government bodies. He has received many awards for his work, including the Bakerian Lectureship of the Royal Society, a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship and The Australian Academy’s Selby Public Lectureship 2019.



Women and Science: Lecture 6

Women and Science: Lecture 6     “Women at the Frontiers of Biotech”

    Dr Susan Pond

Date: Thursday, 17 October 2019, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Women at the Frontiers of Biotech

Susan Pond outlined how biotechnology is being put to use for the good of humanity and the planet, and examined the role of women in this revolution from the time of Rosalind Franklin’s famous Photo 51 in 1952 through to today. Franklin’s work was fundamental to the celebrated revelation of the twisted ladder of the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick in 1953. This opened the floodgates to a revolution in biology and to Nobel Prizes being awarded to 13 women since 1964. Susan also looked forward to future applications and reviewed some of the challenges involved in putting nature’s machinery to work.


Susan Pond has a deep scientific and commercial background in biotechnology through her executive and non-executive roles during the last 20 years and current appointments. Susan has a first-class honours degree in Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Sydney and Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of New South Wales. She held professorial appointments at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Queensland before joining industry. She was recognized as one of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Top 100 Women of Influence in 2013 and is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of NSW.


Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.


Inaugural Meeting, Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW, and Open Lecture

Hugh Durrant-Whyte      “Industries of the Future”

     Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRSN
     NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer

Date: Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 6.00pm
Venue: Newcastle Club, 40 Newcomen Street, Newcastle NSW

Inaugural Meeting

An inaugural meeting to establish the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of New South Wales was held at 6.00 pm on Wednesday, 9 October 2019, followed by a dinner at 7.30pm.

The meeting was open to all comers (i.e., members and fellows of the Society, guests and non-members), although only members and fellows were entitled to vote at the meeting.

The meeting agenda can be found here.

Invited Lecture: Industries of the Future

The NSW Office of Chief Scientist and Engineer (OCSE) supports a range of “prosperity initiatives” aiming to translate the best of NSW research into industry outcomes; from quantum technologies to robotics for agriculture, from advanced manufacturing to synthetic biology. This talk will describe the range of these initiatives including the support of Centres of Excellence, National Research Infrastructure, industry innovation networks and the new Physical Sciences Investment fund. This talk will also describe the close working of OCSE with other NSW Government Departments and Industry to develop a future industry strategy around emerging precincts and technology ecosystems.


Speaker: Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRSN

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. From 2014-16 and from 2002-2010, he was a Professor and ARC Federation Fellow at the University of Sydney. From 2010-2014, he was CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA), and from 1995-2010 Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems and of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). Hugh is a world-leading authority on machine learning and robotics, and its application in areas including cargo handling, mining and defence. He has published over 300 research papers, graduated over 70 PhD students, and has won numerous awards and prizes for his work, including being named 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year. In his career he has worked with many major companies, has co-founded three successful start-up companies, and has won many awards including being named 2008 Engineers Australia NSW Engineer of the Year. He is particularly well known for his work with Patrick Corporation in delivering the automated container terminals in Brisbane and Port Botany, and for his work with Rio Tinto in pioneering the delivering the automated “Mine of the Future”. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, an honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia (HonFIEAus), a Fellow of the IEEE (FIEEE), Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE), Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS).


1277th OGM and Open Lecture

peter godfrey smith   Bodies and Minds in Animal Evolution

  Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith
  The University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

Charting the evolution of different kinds of animal bodies helps us understand the evolution of the mind – both the varieties of minds that might exist, and how minds could arise at all through natural processes. Cephalopods, including octopuses, are an especially interesting case in bodily and behavioral evolution. Peter described octopus behaviors at field sites in NSW and how, In other ways, too, Australia has a special place in the deep history of animal life.

Peter Godfrey-Smith grew up in Sydney, and his undergraduate degree is from the University of Sydney. He studied for a PhD in philosophy at UC San Diego, and then taught at Stanford University, the Australian National University, Harvard University, and the CUNY Graduate Center before taking up his present post as Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. He is the author of five books, including Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection (Oxford, 2009), which won the 2010 Lakatos Award, and Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).



Women and Science: Lecture 5

Women and Science     “Electricity, astronomy, and natural history:
    from colonial Sydney to Royal Sweden, and
    a ladies' academy of science in between”

    Anne Harbers

Date: Monday 23 September 2019, 6pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

What did Fanny Macleay in colonial Sydney in 1826 have in common with the Dutch Golden Age painter Rachel Ruysch (1634-1750) and even the royal Queen Lovisa Ulrika of Sweden (1720–1782)?

Fanny would have been welcomed to The First Women’s Academy of Science – The Ladies Society of Natural Sciences in Middleburg, Holland that met for over 100 years.

Each of these women played a role within their families and societies but also had a drive for seeking scientific knowledge through their own sense of enquiry. In this talk, the links and evidence will be examined to learn of the depth and energy these women gave to their scientific learning in parallel with the other achievements in their lives.

Anne Harbers

An experienced presenter and writer in Art History with postgraduate qualifications, Anne is currently working towards a PhD in Dutch 17th century art, Anne lectures regularly to museums, antique study groups and art history conferences in the USA and Europe as well as the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Trust. For 25 years, Anne worked in global companies in biotechnology and medical research in Australia, Asia and Europe with postgraduate qualifications in Chemistry by Research and an MBA.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.


1276th OGM & open lecture

  “Physicians as public intellectuals: Indonesian
  physicians in the Dutch East Indies”

  Professor Hans Pols FRSN
  Head, School of History
  and Philosophy of Science
  University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday 4 September 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

Through their studies, their medical practice, and their participation in the Association of Indonesian Physicians, Indonesian physicians in the Dutch East Indies developed and articulated a strong professional identity. The promises of modern medicine were important elements of this professional identity and motivated these physicians to develop critical perspectives on colonial society. They participated in social and cultural movements, and became members of city councils and the colonial parliament, wrote in newspapers frequently, and published magazines. In this paper, he discusses the social and political engagement of several generations of Indonesian physicians. At various times, they criticised traditional culture, advocated public health measures and increases in funding for health, criticised income disparities between Indonesian and European physicians, criticised traditional culture or embraced it as a model for an alternate modernity for Indonesia. During the process of decolonisation, they transformed colonial medicine into a modern approach to maintain health, inspired by examples and connections all over the world.

This presentation is based on Hans Pols book Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Hans Pols FRNS is Professor and Head of School of the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on the history of medicine in the Dutch East Indies.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) talk 

Imagine, there is something wrong with your skin – it has no hairs, no pores, no blood vessels, you cannot even sweat to bring your temperature down. That’s what happened on the scar tissues on burn patients. Burns are global health issues and life changing events. The main goal of my PhD project is to construct artificial skin substitutes to address the issue of skin substitute shortage, as well as exploring how to minimize scar formation, eventually improving the quality of life.

This month's presentation is by Miss Lingzhi Kang, a final year PhD students at the University of Wollongong. She is working on "Biofabricated platforms for wound healing and skin regeneration" supervised by Distinguished Professor Gordon Wallace. Lingzhi is the 2019 People's Choice Winner of Three Minute Thesis at the University of Wollongong. She obtained her master degree at Shandong University doing research on vascular regeneration & tissue engineering and bachelor degree of Biomedical Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China.


Poggendorff Lecture 2019

Robert Parks
  “Cereal killers: how plant diseases affect food

  Professor Robert Park
  School of Life and Environmental Sciences
  University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 14 August 2019, 5.30 for 6–7 pm
Venue: Level 5 Function Room, Building F23, University of Sydney (new building on left entering from City Road).

Cereal plants are incredibly important – they are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other crop. We’ve been domesticating cereal plants for around 8000 years and our efforts to develop better yielding and disease resistant crops has had the negative effect of guiding the evolution of crop pathogens. We’ve inadvertently made new pathogen strains emerge that have at times caused crop failure and famine.

Find out how problems of inadequate food supply, the world’s increasing population and the emergence of new crop diseases are presenting significant challenges in ensuring adequate supplies of safe and nutritious food for all.

Professor Robert Park will reveal how plant diseases affect our very existence and the work his team does in developing new genetic approaches for sustainable and environmentally friendly crop disease control.

2018 Poggendorff Lecturer – Professor Robert Park

The 2018 Poggendorff Lectureship was awarded to Professor Robert F. Park, from the University of Sydney, by the Royal Society of NSW. A plant pathologist, Professor Park holds the Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences. He is Director of the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, which conducts research on the genetics and pathology of rust diseases of cereals. This program has a huge impact on agricultural production globally; in Australia alone, it conservatively returns some $600 million to the economy each year.

Poggendorff Lectureship

The Poggendorff Lectureship is awarded periodically by the Royal Society of NSW for research in plant biology and more broadly agriculture. Walter Poggendorff was recognised as one of the major figures in establishing the Australian rice industry, developing high-yield crops for Australian conditions and maintaining controls on imports to limit the introduction of serious diseases. When he died in 1981, he made a bequest to the Royal Society of NSW to fund a lecture award series.


1275th OGM and open lecture

Peter Shergold  “Democracy under challenge:
  how can we restore a sense of citizenship?”

  Professor Peter Shergold AC FRSN
  Chancellor, Western Sydney University

Wednesday 7 August 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

As in many liberal democracies, there is an increasing sense of concern in Australia that representative government is starting to erode from within - trust in political institutions is declining (especially amongst the young), consensus is fragmenting, populist responses are on the rise and ‘technocratic’ expertise and professional authority are increasingly decried. The public discourse that helps bind a civil society seems to be becoming ever less civil. Authoritarian leadership is more evident.

This talk discussed how a sense of democratic purpose might be restored though public services engaging their ‘publics’ in decision-making in more substantive ways. Peter is seeking to walk his talk, reflecting on his three decades as a ‘mandarin’ but focussing on his present role as Coordinator General of Refugee Resettlement in NSW.

Peter was an academic historian who became an influential public servant who ended up as a University Chancellor. In the Australian Public Service he headed successively the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Department of Employment and the Department of Education, Science and Training. He was then appointed as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He now serves on boards, writes government reports and - amongst other things - is Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Coordinator General of Refugee Resettlement.


National Science Week 2019: talk 4

Complex Systems - Computer Modelling of Epidemics  “Computer modelling of epidemics”

  Professor Mikhail Prokopenko

Thursday 15 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

Complex systems – including such things as power and data grids, communication and transport systems, social networks, ecosystems and the spread of disease – evolve and ‘self-organise’ over time, resulting in both benefits and challenges.

Influenza pandemics, for example, emerge at unpredictable intervals. Several major infections have occurred during the last 100 years, including the 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish Flu”) that infected an estimated 500 million people — one-third of the world’s population! — and caused an estimated 50 million deaths. An influenza pandemic today, of the magnitude of the 1918 Spanish Flu, would cause 33 million deaths globally within six months.

Professor Prokopenko reveals how the development of very realistic computer models of our world helps us better understand and better deal with complex problems like flu epidemics. Recent research has indicated that the more urbanised society is, the more vulnerable it is to the spread of disease due to increased population in major cities and international air traffic. This, in turn, helps us identify the best ways to intervene and curtail pandemics through the management of our cities.

 Mikhail ProkopenkoProfessor Mikhail Prokopenko has a strong international reputation in complex self-organising systems, with more than 180 publications, patents and edited books. Since 2014, he has been the Director of the Complex Systems Research Group (Faculty of Engineering and IT) at the University of Sydney. He also leads the post-graduate program on Complex Systems, including Master of Complex Systems.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.


National Science Week 2019: talk 3

Art Punters Freak Me Out Josh Harle  “Machine aesthetics of the human

  Dr Josh Harle

Thursday 15 August 2019, 12.30pm to 1.30
Venue: Mitchell Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney
Cost: free
Click here for more information

It’s natural for us to see through a human lens. When we look out into the world we see it populated by the familiar: animals and devices imbued with human emotion and agency.

With the rapid development and adoption of artificial intelligence and autonomous robotics, their humanoid faces may give us comfort, but beneath the facade they look back with a machine perspective. While we anthropomorphise them, they are ‘mechanomorphising’ us – seeing us as machines.

From surgical robot models, crash test dummies, sex robots, to automated battlefield drones and guns and the ethics algorithms of self-driving cars, machines uniquely perceive us according to their own internal ‘aesthetics’. These functional abstractions are the result of military strategy, politics, and business logic, along with the baked-in, implicit worldview of their creators. Many of these are also deeply and disconcertingly alien to our idea of human.

Art can help critique these models; it’s all about exploring speculative ways of perceiving, understanding, and representing the world.

Researcher and artist Dr Josh Harle explores how artists working at the intersection with technology and science can help us meaningfully engage with complex systems, giving us a more critical perspective on the future of these technologies. Moreover, rather than being relegated to the realm of ‘visual communication’, art can provide a valuable and timely contribution to research.

John HarleDr Josh Harle is the director of Tactical Space Lab, and a current Visiting Fellow at UNSW. His doctoral thesis combined study in Computer Science and Cybernetics, Philosophy, and Art to investigate how digital technology is used to makes sense of the world. ‘Human Jerky’, shown at Verge Gallery in 2018 and curated by researcher and artist Dr Josh Harle, illustrated the monstrous, alien, and frankly terrifying visions of the Human that emerging technologies use through the related practices of five artists.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.


National Science Week 2019: talk 2

Matthew Flinders Terra Australis cropped  “Unexpected results - Australian
  science to 1950”

  Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

Robert Clancy reveals the fascinating history of scientific research and discovery in Australia before 1950.  Informed and inspired by the spirit of the Enlightenment, it helped shape our nation from colonial times onwards.

Science in Europe was very different to 19th century Australia.  Our less stratified society, consisting of a mixture of convicts and immigrants, was about being prepared to ‘have a go’ in a remote and harsh land.  Ordinary men and women survived and forged ahead by solving problems using scientific methods.

The view that colonial and early 20th century science largely consisted of collecting and dispatching trophies of our unique natural history off to Britain is inaccurate.  Rather, the science of the time was born of pragmatism, and this has laid the foundations for the development of ‘modern science’ in Australia. The question is, what can we learn from these past lessons?

From Cook and Banks, to the Horn Expedition to central Australia in 1894; from Lawrence Hargrave’s flight experiments and John Tebbutt’s detection of new comets; to many other extraordinary yet often unknown people, the Enlightenment provides a mirror against which the development of science in Australia – and the development of our culture – can be understood.

Robert ClancyEmeritus Professor Robert Llewellyn Clancy is a leading Australian clinical immunologist and a pioneer in the field of mucosal immunology, known for his research and development of therapies for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), commonly known as emphysema.  Professor Clancy is Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy.  Alongside his professional medical interests, Professor Clancy has long been involved in historical research, particularly in the areas of medical history and cartographic history.  He has also developed a ‘History of Medicine’ course through the College of Physicians.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.


National Science Week 2019: talk 1

Australian Night Sky - Aboriginal Astronomy “Aboriginal astronomy”

 Dr Ragbir Bhathal FRSN

Monday 12 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

For over 60,000 years the Aboriginal peoples of Australia have both studied the stars and named them, with constellations having different names and stories in different regions.  Last year the International Union (IAU), the peak scientific body for astronomers recognized some of their named stars and included them in the official catalogue of stars.

Dr Ragbir Bhathal discusses various aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander astronomy how and its cultural uses such as finding food, telling the seasons and knowing when to conduct ceremonies.  Although Aboriginal astronomy has clashed with Australia’s dominant culture, their knowledge of the stars and constellations has been valuable in substantiating and winning land rights.

Ragbir BhathalDr Ragbir Bhathal served as a UNESCO consultant on museums/science centres, was the director of the Singapore Science Centre, one of four science centres of influence in the 20th century, and is a distinguished teaching fellow at the Western Sydney University.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and the Royal Astronomical Society London, and a visiting fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The Australian National University.  Apart from his research in astrophysics, he also carries out research in Aboriginal astronomy and engineering education.  He has written 15 books, including two on Aboriginal astronomy.  He is in great demand for giving public lectures both in Australia and overseas.  His astronomy work on OSETI was featured in the international magazine Forbes, which has a circulation of over 1 million copies worldwide.  Dr Bhathal is a vocal advocate for an Australian museum dedicated to this country’s first peoples, a museum whose sole task is to tell the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and politics.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.


Women and science: Lecture 4

Women and Science  “Visual perception in Aboriginal art”

  Emeritus Professor Barbara Gillam
  School of Psychology, UNSW

Thursday, 18 July 2019
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Aboriginal painting now has a world-wide reputation.  However it has largely been regarded as conceptual rather than perceptual with a very strong emphasis on the stories depicted.

Barbara Gillam will examine the innovative perceptual skills of Aboriginal bark painters, especially in depicting figure-ground and occlusion.  She will also discuss the visual meaning of this art and its interaction with conceptual meanings.

Out of respect for cultural practices, we will not be featuring the bark paintings referenced in Barbara’s presentation in any of our promotional materials.

Barbara GillamBarbara Gillam was educated at the University of Sydney and ANU.  After two years as a Lecturer in the UK, she moved to New York with academic positions at Columbia and SUNY.  She returned to Australia in 1987 to take up the Chair of Psychology at the University of New South Wales, where she is still a professor.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.


UNSW Centre for Ideas event

Elizabeth Blackburn  “The telomere effect”

  Professor Elizabeth Blackburn
  Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  University of California San Francisco

Friday 16 August 2019, 6.30pm
City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place, Sydney

Cost: $35 without discount, $25 for RSNSW Members and Fellows, and for UNSW alumni and staff, $15 for UNSW students and under-18s (plus booking fee on-line or by phone)

To buy tickets: click here.

Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn delivers the inaugural Gerald Westheimer Lecture, chaired by UNSW Sydney’s Dean of Science, Professor Emma Johnston.

Why does ageing take such different paths for different individuals?  Why do some of us remain healthy and active into later life, while others age more rapidly?  Elizabeth Blackburn’s discoveries about telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes, have transformed the way we think about these important questions and earned her a Nobel Prize in 2009.  Although we have long understood the impact of our genetic inheritance on our health, Blackburn’s work has shown us the key role that telomeres and the enzyme telomerase play in the ageing process.

Be part of a special event with Elizabeth Blackburn as she discusses her work in this fascinating space and its implications for the future of ageing.

This talk is part of the Sydney Science Festival, and is supported by the Crawford Fund and Science & Technology Australia.

Gerald Westheimer Lectureship

The Gerald Westheimer Lecture is a new biennial lecture series for UNSW Science thanks to a generous gift from Professor Gerald Westheimer AM FRS.  This flagship initiative will invite eminent international researchers to spend time in residence at the University.

Elizabeth Blackburn

Dr Elizabeth Blackburn has been a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research, having discovered the molecular nature of telomeres – the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information – and co-discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase.  She is also known for her championing of diversity and inclusion in the sciences.  Blackburn and her research team also collaborate in a range of investigations of the roles of telomere biology in human health and diseases, through clinical and other human studies.  Born in Australia, Dr Blackburn earned degrees from the University of Melbourne, University of Cambridge and Yale University.  She has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for Basic Medical Research, and in 2007 was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Royal Society Events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes events in Sydney and in its Branches throughout the year. 

In Sydney, these include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held normally at 6.00 for 6.30 pm on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January), in the Gallery Room at the State Library of NSW. At the OGMs, society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given.  This is followed by a public lecture presented by an eminent expert and an optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and lecture, 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.

Since April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings, conducted as Zoom webinars, allowing the events program to continue uninterrupted.  It is hoped that face-to-face meetings can be resumed in the latter half of 2021. 

The first OGM of  the year, held in February, has speakers drawn from the winners of the Royal Society Scholarships from the previous year, while the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April or May 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 — the Australian Academy of Science, with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
  • The Dirac lecture — with UNSW Sydney and the Australian Institute of Physics
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture — with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

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