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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Subcategories from this category:

News 2020, News 2019, News Archive

Message from the President — Appointment of an Executive Officer

The President of the Royal Society of NSW, Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO, FRSN, has announced that the Society is seeking to appoint its first Executive Officer.

The Exective Officer will report to the President and will have the opportunity to drive a program of transformation in a well-established, prestigious learned society, based in Sydney.  The position  will provide the appointee with the opportunity to drive a program of operational integration and improvement to ensure well-coordinated support across the society. 

Please click on either of the links below for further information about the position:

New Governor agrees to be Patron

The Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, has now formally agreed to be the Patron of the Society. MBforweb2

Queen’s Birthday honours for RSNSW Fellows

The Royal Society of NSW is pleased to acknowledge Fellows and Members of the Society who receive awards in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Recipients in the 2019 list include:

Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)

Emeritus Professor Leo Radom AC FRSN, for eminent service to science, particularly to computational chemistry, as an academic, author and mentor, and to international scientific bodies.

Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

Professor Katherine Belov AO FRSN, for distinguished service to higher education, particularly to comparative genomics, as an academic and researcher.

Professor Michelle Simmons AO FRS FAA DistFRSN, for distinguished service to science education as a leader in quantum and atomic electronics, and as a role model.

Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Dr Keith Suter AM FRSN, for significant service to international relations, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.


Please let the Secretary (Bruce Ramage MRSN, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) know of any names that we have missed.

The Royal Society of NSW also celebrates the achievements of all recipients of Order of Australia awards.

Images from the Annual Dinner 2019

Tom Kenneally and others pre-dinner

Tom Kenneally and others pre-dinner

The President greets the Governor

The President greets the Governor

Sir Anthony Mason is presented with his Distinguished Fellowship certificate

Sir Anthony Mason is presented with his Distinguished Fellowship certificate

Emma Johnston receives the Clarke Medal

Emma Johnston receives the Clarke Medal

Earnest dinner conversation between Ian Wilkinson and Marian Kernahan

Earnest dinner conversation between Ian Wilkinson and Marian Kernahan

The Distinguished Fellow's address is given by Michelle Simmons

The Distinguished Fellow's address is given by Michelle Simmons

Nalini Joshi delivers the vote of thanks for the Distinguished Fellow's address

Nalini Joshi delivers the vote of thanks for the Distinguished Fellow's address

Vice President Judith Wheeldon and Michelle Simmons

Vice President Judith Wheeldon and Michelle Simmons

Emeritus Professor Noel Hush AO DistFRSN

Noel Hush, one of our inaugural Fellows (and Distinguished Fellow) died on Wednesday 20 March, following a heart attack.  He was 94.

Professor Hush was a chemist of international standing.  After graduating from the University of Sydney in the late 1940s and after completing a couple of years there as a research fellow, he took up various research positions in the United Kingdom.  He returned to Australia in 1971 to establish the Department of Theoretical Chemistry, a group that he led for nearly 20 years until his formal retirement.

He received many Australian and international accolades including Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society (London) and was a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

More details of his career (and a full listing of his many postnominals) can be found here.

A memorial service will be held in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on Monday 27 May at 10 am (note changed date and time from what was earlier given here).

RSNSW Fellow to give public lecture

University of Cambridge Professor Herbert Huppert FRS FRSN is giving a public lecture at Sydney University on Wednesday 17 April.

Understanding carbon in the air: can we avert a climate catastrophe?

The event is free, but registration is necessary.

Council election 2019

The 152nd AGM will be held prior to the OGM on Wednesday 3 April 2019 at the State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney.  As part of the AGM, the election of candidates to Council will be held.  Polling will open at 5.30 pm and close at 6.15 pm.  There are 12 candidates for 10 positions as Councillors; the list of candidates is available here.

The AGM agenda and accompanying documents, including a proxy form, will be circulated direct to Members.

Story from the Periodic Table

Immediate past-President Brynn Hibbert is the winner of the first round of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute's competition for stories about the periodic table, run as part of the International Year of the Periodic Table.  You can read his story about Sir Humphry Davy and the discovery of iodine here.

Let's build something brilliant

The following letter by our President, Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO, was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 4 March 2019 under the above headline (which was the main letters headline for the day).

“The Royal Society of NSW, Australia’s oldest scientific and cultural organisation, applauds the recommendation of the Upper House’s Parliamentary Committee to retain the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, and to support a major new cultural institution at Parramatta.

“The right place for the Museum of Applied Arts and Science, the Powerhouse Museum, is where it is now, as an integral part of Sydney history, close to Sydney Observatory, Darling Harbour and universities, and well located as a rich educational and tourist resource.

“The Royal Society is excited that the report recognises the urgent need for renovation of the Powerhouse Museum, to make up for the years of neglect that have allowed this priceless asset to fall behind other science museums around the world.

“In planning the Parramatta museum, the needs and interests of Parramatta and NSW should be assessed, and an exciting and innovative museum then designed. We in NSW have, for example, no first people’s museum, nor a heritage and immigration museum. Such choices would be drawcards for locals and tourists alike, bringing a new audience to Parramatta. Instead of wasting funds moving a valuable existing collection to a new place, let’s use public funds to build something new and brilliant.”

Professor Ian Sloan
President, Royal Society of NSW

FRSNs in 2019 Australia Day honours

Australia Day honours have been awarded to the following:

Jillian Broadbent AO FRSN, elevated to AC

Leonard Fisher FRSN, appointed OAM

(Barney) Bevil Milton Glover FRSN, appointed AO

Adrian Hibberd FRSN, appointed AM

Robert Bain Thomas AM FRSN, elevated to AO

If you know of any Members or Fellows we have missed, please email the Royal Society at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FRSN to be Lord Prior of St John International

Professor Mark Compton FRSN has been announced as the next Lord Prior of the Order of St John, also known as St John International.  The Order is devoted to the relief of sickness and injury, receiving a royal charter from Queen Victoria in 1888.  It is perhaps best known in Australia for St John Ambulance.

RSNSW Fellows investigate the Opal Tower

Emeritus Professor John Carter AM FRSN and Professor Mark Hoffman FRSN have been appointed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to investigate the structural integrity of the Opal Tower apartment building at Homebush.  We wish them speedy success.

(Following initial investigations, Professor Stephen Foster was also engaged to assist.)

RSNSW awards for 2018

The Society's awards for 2018 (Clarke Medal, Edgeworth David Medal, History & Philosophy of Science Medal, James Cook Medal, Poggendorff Lecture and RSNSW Scholarship) were announced by the President at the OGM on 5 December. Full details are available here.

Images from the 2018 Forum

Gov house and groupGovernment House and group outside

Anne Williamson and Phil WaiteAnne Williamson and Phil Waite

Ian Wilkinson and others in lectureIan Wilkinson and others in lecture

President with Brian and BrynnPresident with Brian and Brynn

Louise YoungLouise Young

Virginia JudgeVirginia Judge

Mary-Anne Williams lecturingMary-Anne Williams lecturing

Kurt Lambeck awarded 2018 Prime Minister’s Prize

Kurt LambeckDistinguished Fellow of RSNSW, Professor Kurt Lambeck AO FRS FAA has been awarded the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. The award, made at the Prime Minister’s Prize event at Canberra’s Parliament House on 17 October, recognises Lambeck’s 50-year contribution to Australian and global science through his geodesy research.

According to the prize announcement from the Prime Minister’s office, “Kurt Lambeck AO has revealed how our planet changes shape—every second, every day, and over millennia. These changes influence sea levels, the movement of continents, and the orbits of satellites. Kurt’s original work in the 1960s enabled accurate planning of space missions. It led him to use the deformation of continents during the ice ages to study changes deep in the mantle of the planet. It also led to a better understanding of the impact of sea level changes on human civilization in the past, present and future.”

Chris Bertram wins David Dewhurst Award

Council member Dr Chris Bertram FRSN was presented with the David Dewhurst Award at the recent Australian Biomedical Engineering Conference. The David Dewhurst Award is given annually by Engineers Australia (Australia's peak body for engineers, representing over 100,000 members) to a biomedical engineer who has made exceptional, sustained and significant contributions to the field.

International Mathematical Union honours Nalini Joshi

Professor Nalini Joshi AO FRSN has been elected Vice-President of the International Mathematical Union, from the start of 2019. She becomes the first Australian to hold this position.  Besides being a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, Professor Joshi is a member of its governing Council.

Recent honours for RSNSW Fellows

Graeme Jameson / Michelle SimmonsTwo of our members have recently been elected as Fellows of the prestigious Royal Society of London. They are Michelle Simmons DistFRSN (who is already Australian of the Year) and Graeme Jameson FRSN from the University of Newcastle.

Veena SahajwallaAnd recently elected FRSN Veena Sahajwalla has just been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

We also congratulate our Fellows who received an award in the latest Queen’s Honours List:
Geoffrey Harcourt AC
David Cook AO and Emma Johnston AO
Barbara Briggs AM and Brynn Hibbert AM, our immediate past President

New President's message

At the 151st AGM held on 4 April 2018, Emeritus Scientia Professor Ian Sloan AO FRSN was installed as President of the Society.  As Professor Sloan was overseas and unable to attend the meeting, he addressed the audience in a video.  The text of his address is given here.


Ian SloanIf you are seeing this video, then I must have been elected as President of the Royal Society of New South Wales, and I must be in Providence, Rhode Island.  I’m sorry that I can’t be with you.

What an honour it is to be President of our Royal Society!  By my count I am the 119th President, in a line stretching back to 1821.

Let me tell you a little about our first President.  Sir Thomas arrived as Governor of New South Wales in 1821.  He was a soldier (finishing with the rank of Major General).  But he was also a scientist, specifically an astronomer, and a great patron of science.  He built an astronomical observatory at Parramatta, something wonderful to think about with the colony only 35 years old.  After returning to Great Britain he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Our first President was a fine example of all that is best about our Royal Society.  There are many other great names among the presidents that follow, but I want to jump forward around 200 years, because our proud history counts for little unless we are doing something now.  I want to pay particular respect to my recent predecessors as President: to John Hardie and Donald Hector, and especially to immediate-past-President Brynn Hibbert.  These three have presided over major transformation and reform.  Especially important has been the reinvention of the Fellows program, and a renewed emphasis on expanded membership.  By now the Fellows and Members together number around 400, giving us increased strength as a society.  Recent presidents have also been taking seriously the commitment not just to science (though science remains deep in our DNA) but also to “Art, Literature and Philosophy”, which we nowadays interpret rather broadly, to include all of the key intellectual and creative endeavours of our time.  My commitment as President will be to continue to develop in these directions, and to make sure that the Society is important to its Members and Fellows.

Thank you.

Results of the Council election 2018

In accordance with the Society's rules, the list of candidates is displayed here.

The election took place at the annual general meeting on Wednesday 4 April 2018 at the Union University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney.  Polling opened at 5.30pm and closed at 6.15pm.

The results of the election were as follows.

Aslaksen

Erik

Councillor - TAS management

Bertram

Chris

Honorary Webmaster

Bhathal

Ragbir

Honorary Librarian

Buttner

Herma

Honorary Secretary (General)

Choucair

Mohammad

Councillor

Clancy

Robert

Councillor

Dyson

Laurel

Councillor - Bulletin Editor

Gibson

Margaret

Councillor – new

Hardie

John

Vice-President 

Hector

Donald

Councillor

Hibbert

Brynn

Vice-President – immediate past president

Joshi

Nalini

Councillor – new 

Judge

Virginia

Councillor – new

Kehoe

Jim

Councillor 

Marks

Robert

Honorary Secretary (Editor)

Sloan

Ian

President

Wheeldon

Judith

Vice-President

Wilkinson

Ian

Councillor

Wilmott 

Richard

Honorary Treasurer

Wood

Anne

Southern Highlands representative (to be confirmed)

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 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 (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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