Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events
JAN
27

NSW "Turning Ideas into Jobs" R&D Action Plan

NSW R&D Action Plan - Turning Ideas into Action logoOn 25 January 2021, the NSW Premier,The Honourable Gladys Berejiklian, launched the Turning Ideas into Jobs – Accelerating Research & Development in NSW Action Plan. The Action Plan is the NSW Government response to an unprecedented disruption to the NSW economy, arising from technological advances, natural disasters and a devastating global pandemic, which collectively have put ongoing economic prosperity under pressure.

The response to these challenges seeks to build a more resilient, self-sufficient and innovative state economy.  The Action Plan sets out five recommended Priority Actions to foster the state's innovation profile through R&D that is undertaken in universities, institutes and technology businesses.  The actions are:

  1. Launch a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program – providing competitive grants for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to find and commercialise innovative solutions to well-defined problems for NSW Government agencies.
  2. Boost open data – release new government datasets so businesses can make better decisions, entrepreneurs can build new businesses and the government can solve complex challenges.
  3. Turbocharge precincts – develop precincts to attract national and global technology industries and investment, and drive collaboration between universities, research organisations, start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs, to commercialise R&D.
  4. Target strategic support for NSW universities – collaborate on research that drives future NSW strategic growth industries and research-led industry attraction, and better leverage Commonwealth Government research funding.
  5. Establish an R&D matchmaking platform – better connect research ‘sellers’ and ‘buyers’ and link researchers to research infrastructure and expertise.

To read more about this initiative, please follow the link to the report Accelerating R&D in NSW: Turning ideas into jobs, which is available from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet website. 

JAN
26

Australia Day Honours 2021

Australia Days 2021 Honours The Society is pleased to note the awards in the 2021 Australia Day Honours that have gone to Society Fellows: an Officer of the Order of Australia to Professor Eileen Baldry AO FRSN; an Officer of the Order of Australia to Emeritus Professor Christopher Fell AO FRSN; and a Member of the Order of Australia to Dr Ronald Webber AM FRSN

Professor Baldry, who is the  Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UNSW (Sydney), received her honour for distinguished service to tertiary education, to criminology and social welfare policy, and as an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Professor Fell, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW (Sydney) and Chair of the Board of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, received his honour for distinguished service to science and engineering, particularly to nanotechnology research and fabrication, and to professional networks. 

 Dr Webber received his honour for significant service to the building and construction sector.  

The Council of the Society extends its warmest congratulations to each of those so honoured on Australia Day 2021.  

JAN
25

Introducing "The Long Enlightenment" from the Royal Societies of Australia

Cover of The Long EnlightenmentThe Royal Societies of Australia is a national umbrella organisation advocating for all of Australia’s Royal Societies, including the Royal Society of NSW.

The Royal Societies of Australia and Halstead Press present a new book by Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN on the achievements of Australian scientists, both famous and forgotten, from the colonial period up until the mid-20th century.

Professor Clancy examines over 100 scientists and their work to discover what enabled the dramatic success of Australian research on both a global and domestic stage. This is no romantic celebration of an imagined golden age, but rather a study of the assets and obstacles that steered the course of scientific accomplishment in this country that seeks to answer the crucial question of what we can learn from the scientific thinking and practice of the past.

This important, new, well-illustrated hardcover work of 184 pages is now available at the special price of $40 plus postage for all Members and Fellows of the Royal Society of NSW.

To obtain your copy, send your completed order form by email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to:

Royal Societies of Australia logo
The Royal Societies of Australia
GPO Box 188
Canberra ACT 2601

JAN
04

Condolence message from the RSA President for Major General Michael Jeffery

Royal Societies of Australia Logo On behalf of the Royal Societies of Australia I would like to express my great appreciation for the encouragement and support given by Major General Jeffery to the Royal Societies of Australia (RSA). It was General Jeffery who, as Governor-General at the time, encouraged the six separate Royal Societies in Australia to establish an umbrella body which could advocate for and on behalf of each on a national basis. He later accepted Patronage of the RSA while he was Governor-General. 

 His foresight and enlightened encouragement continued right through until his last days, with my invitation to him to be the Patron of the RSA's 'Stewardship of Country' symposium series, an invitation accepted with enthusiasm. It was unfortunate that this was never to be realised due to the postponement of the event to 2021 and General Jeffery's illness.

I do remember with great fondness visiting Michael and Marlena's home in October 2019 to discuss the seminar series and despite his treatment having only just begun, being overwhelmed by the amount of research General Jeffery had done in preparation for my visit.

Michael took great delight in being awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society of NSW, Australia's oldest learned Society and a foundation member of the RSA, in July 2018 for his scientific advocacy. He was pleased to be able to attend meetings of that Society in Sydney when he could, the most recent being on 7 August 2019 when he listened to a talk by Professor Peter Shergold AC FRSN on “Democracy under challenge: how can we restore a sense of citizenship?”. General Jeffery rose to the occasion quite literally and at the end of the talk gave the audience the unexpected benefit of hearing his own insights into this topic, about which he knew a great deal.

The RSA sends its condolences to Marlena and her family in the knowledge that Michael has done so much for the encouragement of intellectual inquiry and human endeavour. We are proud to be able to continue his legacy.

John Hardie FRSN FHEA FGS
President, Royal Societies of Australia
29 December 2020

JAN
01

Announcing the Society's 2021 Events Program

RSNSW Seal The Royal Society of NSW wishes all Members, Fellows and friends a most happy, healthy and successful New Year ahead and trusts that its Events Program for 2021 will be well received and widely enjoyed. The initial draft of the program has now been published on the website, and will be progressively developed in coming weeks and months. Please check back regularly to keep apprised of any developments, as they occur.    

While the Society looks forward to resuming face-to-face events at some stage during 2021, the ongoing uncertainty caused the the current COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney and elsewhere in NSW makes it difficult to predict when this will be.  Until that time, the Society will continue with its virtual events program, the first of which will be held on 3 February at 6.30pm.      

 

DEC
19

Vale Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC AO (Mil.) CVO MC FRSN

Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC AO (Mil.) CVO MS FRSNThe Society is saddened to learn of the death of one of its most eminent Fellows, Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC AO (Mil.) CVO MC FRSN, on 18 December 2020 at the age of 83. Michael Jeffrey was a brave soldier and a statesman at the highest level, rising to serve as Australia’s twenty-fourth Governor-General.

Major General Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australia in 1937 and educated at Kent Street High School and the Royal Military College, Duntroon. He graduated into Infantry and served operationally in Malaya, Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, where he was awarded the Military Cross and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After command of all combat elements of the Army from platoon to division - including the Special Air Service Regiment - he retired in 1993 to assume the appointment of Governor of Western Australia, which he held for almost seven years. His major interests during his tenure were in youth affairs, education, environment and the family. For his services to the State he was appointed a Companion in the Order of Australia, a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and a Citizen of Western Australia.

On his retirement as Governor in 2000 he established in Perth, a not for profit research institute - Future Directions International (FDI) - whose object is to examine longer term issues facing Australia. On 20 December 2000, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Curtin University. On 11 August 2003 he was sworn in as the twenty-fourth Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, serving until 7 September 2008. He joined the Royal Society of NSW as a Fellow on 4 July 2018 and in his later years he became a champion of the land of Australia, as Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, concerned with soil health and the ‘greening’ our cities. He is survived by his wife, Marlena, their three sons and a daughter, and seven grandchildren.

DEC
14

A Very Special Festive Season

Festive Season imageThe year 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of Australian bushfires and floods, COVID 19, lockdowns, “flattening the curve”, Chief Medical Officers and epidemiologists. The whole community has been challenged to find new ways of doing things, and to put up with inconveniences, big and small.

For the Royal Society of New South Wales this has been a year of exceptional challenges, with all face-to-face meetings cancelled since March, yet with a continuing obligation to provide high quality events for its Members and Fellows. I am immensely proud of the efforts of our Executive Officer, Webmaster and Zoom Master, and other members of Council and its committees who managed at very short notice to take all of our activities online, from the annual elections to the monthly meetings, and even to meetings of our branches.

If you go to our much-improved website and click on the YouTube icon, you will find there the videos of seventeen individual meetings held in 2020, together with the complete collection of videos from the recent Forum of the Royal Society and the Academies, “After COVID-19: Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times”. That splendid event took place at Government House in front of a small audience but was live streamed to a much wider audience, and is now available in edited form on the YouTube channel. Another video available on the YouTube channel is the first of our “[email protected]”, a joint event with Government House, with Robert Clancy using his own wonderful collection of early maps to talk about the maps of the early colony of New South Wales.

After a year like no other, but with interstate borders now open, lockdowns gone, and community transmissions at low levels, for most of us this will be a very special Festive Season, as we reunite with family and friends without a 1.5 metre separation. For those with family overseas, or suffering from loss, we offer sincere sympathy. On behalf of the Council of the Royal Society of NSW, I extend to the whole Royal Society family every best wish for the coming Festive Season, and for a much more comfortable and enjoyable New Year – a year that offers something special to look forward to, when in June we reach 200th anniversary, and begin our bicentennial celebrations.

Ian H. Sloan AO FRSN FAA
President, Royal Society of NSW

DEC
09

Royal Society of NSW Awards for 2020

RSNSW Seal The Royal Society of NSW announced its Awards for 2020 at the 1289th Ordinary General Meeting on Wednesday, 9 December 2020.  These prestigious awards, awarded by Australia's oldest learned society, recognise outstanding achievements and excellence in science, engineering, philosophy and the arts.

The awards and their recipients announced at this meeting were:

  • James Cook Medal—Scientia Professor Richard Bryant AC FASSA FAA FAHMS
  • Clarke Medal and Lecture—Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman
  • Edgeworth David Medal—Associate Professor Brett Hallam
  • History and Philosophy Medal—Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FBA FRHistS
  • Liversidge Lecture—Professor Richard Payne FRSN FRACI FRSC
  • Poggendorff Lectureship—Professor Angela Moles FRSN
  • Jak Kelly Award—Mr Matthew Donnelly
  • Royal Society of NSW Scholarships—Mr Sajad Razavi Bazaz, Mr Daniel Fox, and Ms Phillipa Specker
  • Royal Society of NSW Medal—Emerita Professor Mary O’Kane AC FRSN FTSE Hon FIEAust
  • Royal Society of NSW Citation—Emeritus Professor Heinrich Hora FRSN FAIP FInstP.

 

Details about the recipients can be found on the Royal Society website.  

 

DEC
09

Society Fellow, Nalini Joshi, awarded the 2020 AustMS George Szekeres Medal

Professor Nalini Joshi The Council of the Royal Society of NSW warmly congratulates one of its Fellows, Payne-Scott Professor Nalini Joshi AO FRSN FAA of the University of Sydney, on being jointly awarded the George Szekeres Medal of the Australian Mathematical Society in 2020. The George Szekeres Medal, which recognises an “outstanding contribution to the mathematical sciences”, is the most senior award of the Australian Mathematical Society. Professor Joshi was awarded the medal jointly with Professor Ole Warnaar of the University of Queensland.

Professor Joshi is a world leader in the theory and applications of differential equations, contributing mathematical results that have impact in fields as diverse as particle physics, quantum mechanics, large prime-number distributions, and wireless communications. Her distinguished research record has led to numerous awards, including becoming the 150th Anniversary Hardy Fellow of the London Mathematical Society in 2015.

Professor Joshi's contribution to the Australian and international mathematical community has been outstanding. She has served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Commonwealth Science Council (2014–2018), a member of the Science in Australia Gender Equity Expert Advisory Group (2016–2018), and is currently the first Australian Vice-President of the International Mathematical Union (2019-2022). She was the first mathematician to be awarded a Georgina Sweet ARC Laureate Fellowship (2012-2016). Nalini promotes mathematics to government and the wider community, and her work on creation of the SAGE initiative has resulted in influential actions and impact across the nation. Nalini has written over 100 peer-reviewed papers together with authored and edited monographs. Her outstanding contribution to mathematics is confirmed by numerous awards and positions.

To read further about her work in differntial equations and the official citation, please see the AustMS website.

DEC
07

Society Fellow, Ben Eggleton, awarded the 2020 ANZOS "Beattie" Steel Medal

Professor Ben Eggleton The Council of the Royal Society of NSW warmly congratulates one of its Fellows, Professor Ben Eggleton FRSN FAA FTSE of the University of Sydney, on the awarding of the WH “Beattie” Steel Medal for 2020 from the Australian And New Zealand Optical Society (ANZOS). The “Beattie” Steel Medal is the most prestigious award of the Australian and New Zealand Optical Society and is presented to a nominee with a strong and sustained record of authority, enterprise, and innovation in the field of optics in Australia or New Zealand. For Professor Eggleton, it recognises his outstanding contribution to the Australian and international optics and photonics communities by leading several major cooperative centres, an exceptional research and development record, and organisational services to the optics community.

Professor Benjamin Eggleton is the Director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute, and currently serves also as co-Director of the NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN). He was the founding Director of the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS) at the University of Sydney, serving as the as Director from 2009–18, the Director of the two-term Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Ultrahigh-bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) between 2003–17, and the holder of three consecutive ARC Federation and Laureate Fellowships from 2003–17.

DEC
04

Society Fellow, Matthew England, awarded the 2020 AMOS Morton Medal

Professor Matthew England The Council of the Royal Society of NSW warmly congratulates one of its Fellows, Scientia Professor Matthew England FRSN FAA of UNSW Sydney, on the awarding of the Morton Medal from the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) for 2020. The Morton Medal recognises leadership in meteorology, oceanography, climate and related fields, particularly through education and the development of young scientists, and through the building of research environments in Australia.

Professor England is recognised internationally as one of the world’s foremost experts in ocean and climate science, with important discoveries in water-mass formation, ocean-atmosphere interaction, climate modes of variability, and ocean ventilation. He has substantially advanced knowledge of the tropical, mid-latitude and Southern Oceans and their role in climate and climate variability. Over the last 25 years he has mentored 70 young scientists within his team, and many others nationally and internationally.  His work has been highly successful in establishing and building research environments in Australia, including the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) in 2006, the former ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate Science, and most recently the ARC Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS) in 2020, of which he will become the Deputy Director.

Professor England is the 2019 winner of the Royal Society of NSW James Cook Medal, its most senior award, and will be presenting online to the Society on Wednesday, 9 December 2020 on the subject of “Dispelling climate change myths—how ocean physics can help explain surprises in the modern-day climate record”

NOV
27

Society Fellows elected as 2020 Fellows of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering

RSNSW Seal The Royal Society of NSW is delighted to learn of the recognition of two of its Fellows, Professor Hala Zreiqat AM FRSN FTSE FAHMS and Adjunct Professor Trevor Danos AM FRSN FTSE, being elected to Fellowships in the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. They are amongst 25 new Fellows of the Academy in 2020 who are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to advancing engineering, technology and applied science.

 Professor Hals ZreiqatProfessor Hala Zreiqat, of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sydney, is a biochemical engineer who 3D-prints replacement body parts for people suffering from injury and disease.  She invented a type of ceramic biomaterial that can be used as a scaffold to regrow bone, and developed the technology to tailor these prosthetics for individual patients. She also leads research into the creation of other artificial human tissue, including tendons, ligaments and – eventually – organs.  Professor Zreiqat is the Drector of the ARC Centre for Innovative BioEngineering, Founder and Chair of the International Alliance for Design and Application in Tissue Engineering and of BIOTech Futures; and the 2018 NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year. 

Adjunct Professor Trevor Danos

Trevor Danos is a lawyer, company director and strategic advisor supporting science and technology across society. An effective science policy advocate, he has advanced STEM in industry, the government and the broader community. Mr Danos is helping to create the world’s largest radio telescope as a member of the Australia-New Zealand Coordination Committee for the Square Kilometre Array. He is a director of Endeavour Energy, NSW Circular and Summer Housing, a former director of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and TransGrid, and a former member of the Cooperative Research Centres Committee. Mr Danos was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for his significant service to the community.

 

NOV
25

Society Fellows, Ben Eggleton and Robert Park, win 2020 Eureka Prizes

2020 Eureka Prize winners, Ben Eggleton and Robert ParkThe Royal Society of NSW is delighted that two of its Fellows, Professor Ben Eggleton FRSN FAA FTSE and Professor Robert Park FRSN FTSE, both from the University of Sydney, have been awarded Australian Museum Eureka Prizes for 2020.  The Council of the Society warmly congratulate both Professor Eggleton and Professor Park on their achievements, and on this recognition of the impact of their outstanding research.

Professor Park, who was the 2018 Poggendorff  Lecturer of the Royal Society of NSW, has won the 2020 Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.  For nearly two decades, Professor Park has led world-class efforts to develop cereal varieties with inbuilt genetic disease resistance. He is one of the few plant pathologists who has successfully translated their biological discoveries to the real world, his research having a sustained global impact on the economic viability of cereal production and food security.

Professor Eggleton leads a team from the University of Sydney and the Australian National University that has won the 2020 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia.  By harnessing the delicate interaction between light and sound, Professor Eggleton and his team have produced a microchip that provides a unique advantage for defence platforms. With prototypes already developed in Australia and internationally, this compact technology heralds a new era in microwave signal processing and represents real gains in performance, efficiency and cost.

In addition, two of the speakers at recent Royal Society and Four Academies Forums, were recognised in the 2020 Eureka Awards.  Ceridwen Dovey, who spoke at the 2019 Forum (Making SPACE for Australia), received the 2020 Eureka Prize for Long-Form Science Journalism, while Scientia Professor Gregory Dore of UNSW, who spoke at the 2020 Forum (After COVID-19: Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times) was awarded the Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research. 

To read further, please see the Australian Museum website, and articles in Cosmos and the Sydney Morning Herald from 25 November 2020. 

 

 

NOV
20

Leading universities call for wealthy nations to commit to zero emissions targets

Depiction of climate changeA new international network of top climate universities universities including the UNSW Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and Monash University, as well as Oxford, Caltech and the Sorbonne amongst many others  is calling for wealthy nations to commit to net zero emissions targets. The International Universities Climate Alliance, announced on 18 November 2020, was initiated by UNSW, principally through the efforts of two of the Society's Fellows: Ian Jacobs FRSN (Vice-Chancellor of UNSW) and Matthew England FRSN FAA (a leading climate researcher). Its first action was to send a declaration to the G20 before its coming meeting in Saudi Arabia, urging the world's leading economies to take urgent action to prevent catastrophic climate change by an early commitment to net zero emissions. The declaration has been signed by 48 of the world's leading universities.

NOV
20

Release of YouTube videos from the 2020 Forum: After COVID-19-Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times

Forum Participants at Government House, SydneyIn the spirit of advancing knowledge and enriching lives, The Royal Society of NSW is pleased to announce the availability of the video recordings from its most recent annual Forum, conducted jointly with the Four Learned Academies. The theme of the 2020 Forum was “After COVID-19: Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times”. This year, the Forum was conducted in front of a somewhat reduced face-to-face audience at Government House, Sydney on 5 November 2020, but was joined by a larger online audience which participated in the day’s activities via YouTube live streaming.

The recordings are now available on our YouTube channel and are collected in an associated playlist for convenient access. You may also access these via the our website article which is accessible on the Forums page of the website Publishing menu. This article includes a report of the Forum, together with links to the YouTube videos, the printed program (which includes biographies of the speakers), and an album of photographs taken on the day.

We hope that you enjoy this new content that is now available and that that you will share it with your network of contacts and to your communication channels. We also encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel (for which a Google account is required) and to click on the bell icon to be notified when new content is posted.

NOV
12

Society Fellows and Members "In the News"

In the NewsFrom time to time, the Society and its Fellows and Members are mentioned, or are published, in the media, or in other sources or outlets. The Society is pleased to inform readers that summaries of such mentions, together with links either to the original sources, or to news items that include links to original sources, are now published on the In the News page, accessible in the Events/News menu or under the heading Noteworthy on the home page sidebar.  We hope that you find this compilation to be informatative and of interest.  

NOV
11

Society Fellow, Cathy Foley, appointed as Australia's next Chief Scientist

Dr Cathy FoleyThe Royal Society of NSW was delighted to learn that one of its Fellows, Dr Cathy Foley AM FRSN FAA FTSE, has just been appointed as the incoming Chief Scientist of Australia from 2021. Dr Foley, a 36-year veteran of CSIRO, comes to the position of Australia's Chief Scientist from the role of Chief Scientist at CSIRO.

She has a distinguished record of research in the field of solid-state physics and its applications, combining quantum physics, material science and research translation. Earlier this year, she was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution towards the advancement of women in science, and particularly physics. The Council of the Society warmly congratulates Dr Foley on her aappointment and looks forward to her guidance of Australian science and technology in the years to come.

To read more about Dr Cathy Foley and her impressive portfolio of achievements during her career, please read the following articles at the Australian Academy of Science website and in the Sydney Morning Herald.

OCT
31

Hunter Branch News: October 2020

Image of Newcastle, NSW The Hunter Branch of the Society has just published an update of the events conducted this year and the work undertaken by its Branch Committee during 2020.

The next event organised by the Branch will be the lecture by Professor Tony Capon of Monash University titled “Planetary Health: Safeguarding Health in the Anthropocence Epoch”, postponed from March 2020, and to be held on Wednesday, 2 December 2020 via a Zoom webinar.   

OCT
28

Society Fellow, Thomas Maschmeyer, wins the 2020 Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation

Professor Thomas MaschmeyerThe Royal Society of NSW is delighted that one of its Fellows, Professor Thomas Maschmeyer FRSN FAA FTSE from the School of Chemistry, University of Sydney, has been awarded the 2020 Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation. The Council of the Society warmly congratulates Professor Maschmeyer on this achievement, and this recognition of the impact of his outstanding research.

The award recognises Thomas Maschmeyer for his work that has commercialised fundamental research in fields that address environmental problems: plastic-waste recycling and safe, scalable storage for renewable energy. Professor Maschmeyer is a catalytic chemist who, over the past two decades, has invented a new, efficient way to convert renewable and plastic-waste inputs into their constituent chemical materials for reuse, and has reimagined zinc-bromide chemistry to develop a completely new solar-energy battery technology.

Each of these inventions is poised to transform how we address two of humanity’s most pressing challenges – the need for more efficient commercial waste recycling and boosting the performance of renewable energy storage. Two companies that he has founded to develop his world-beating technologies, Licella and Gelion, have already attracted more than $120 million of investment and have created more than 70 jobs in Australia.

More on the outstanding achievements of Professor Macshmeyer can be found on the Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation website and  the University of Sydney website.

OCT
27

Society Fellows awarded 2020 NSW Premier's Science and Engineering Prizes

NSW Premier's Prizes for Science and Engineering 2020Four Society Fellows have been recognised at the NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science and Engineering, with Professor Edward Holmes FRSN FAA FRS, of the University of Sydney, being awarded the 2020 NSW Scientist of the Year.

In the other awards, Professor Suzanne O’Reilly AM FRSN FAA of Macquarie University received the Prize for Excellence in Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry or Physics; Professor Merlin Crossley FRSN of UNSW Sydney was a joint recipient of the Prize for Excellence in Medical Biological Sciences; while Professor Ewa Goldys FRSN FTSE of UNSW Sydney received the Prize for Leadership in Innovation in NSW.

Professor Holmes was recognised for his 30 years of research into the emergence, evolution and spread of viruses, with a focus on how viruses can jump species and manifest as epidemics and pandemics. However, as is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 October 2020, he came to international prominence in becoming the first to publish the genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on 5 January 2020, following communication with a colleague in China. It was this act that triggered the release of genome sequencing data from China, and the start of research efforts to understand the virus, develop rapid testing, and commence the development of vaccines.

In speaking with the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Holmes spoke of the “tremendous honour to receive this award, which is built on the hard work of my team and collaborators over many years”, noting that he was “so thankful and proud to be living in a state and country in which the science has been listened to and used to help build such an effective response to COVID-19.” Commenting in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Chief Scientist and Engineer of NSW, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte said “Professor Holmes’ early identification of the devastating potential of the coronavirus cannot be overstated”.

Professor Holmes receives $60,000 as prize money, with category winners each receiving $5,000.

For further information and background, please read the article on the Australian Academy of Science website and in the Sydney Morning Herald

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 early 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

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.