Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events
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 awards 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 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

OCT
21

Society Fellows as Finalists in the 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Logo A number of Society Fellows are amongst the Finalists of the 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Awards—the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science. Presented annually in partnership with some of the nation’s leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations, the Eureka Prizes raise the profile of science and science engagement in the community by celebrating outstanding achievement.

Amongst the finallists in this year’s Prizes are:

  •  Professor Ben Eggleton FRSN FAA FTSE of the University of Sydney — nominated 2020 Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
  • Professor Maria Kavallaris AM FRSN of UNSW Sydney and the Children’s Cancer Institute and Professor Robert Park FRSN of the University of Sydney — each nominated for the 2020 CSIRO Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
  • Professor Karu Esselle FRSN — nominated for the 2020 University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize For Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.

The Awards will be announced at an online ceremony on the evening of 24 November 2020.

OCT
09

Events since September 2020 now on YouTube

Collage of the RSNSW Seal, Professor John Rasko, Rrofessor Sandra Lynch and Professor Huw PriceEvents held online since early September 2020 by the Royal Society of NSW are now available on our YouTube channel

These are the lecture presented at the1286th Ordinary General Meeting by Professor John Rasko AO (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Centenary Institute, University of Sydney) on the evening of 2 September, the Southern Highland Branch lecture presented by Adjunct Professor  Sandra Lynch on the evening of 17 September, and the lecture present by Professor Huw Price FRSN FBA FAHA (Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge) on the evening of 7 October 2020.

In September, Professor Rasko spoke about the “The Dawn of Molecular Medicine—Gene Therapy: past, present and future” while Professor Lynch discussed “Philosophical Ethics in Schools: Plan and Paradox”.  In October, Professor Price, together with colleagues Associate Professor Kristie Miller and Professor Alex Holcombe of the University of Sydney Centre for Time, addressed the question of  “Where now for the study of time?”

All online events conducted recently by the Society are available on YouTube and are accessible from the Presentation and Forum pages of the Society’s website.

OCT
08

Distinguished Fellowship awarded to Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart

Sir Fraser Stoddart The Council of the Royal Society of NSW is delighted to announce the awarding of a Distinguished Fellowship to Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart FRS DistFRSN FRSE FRSC. The honour Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales is a prestigious award, limited to 25 living awardees at any time, that recognises internationally-distinguished contributors to science, art, literature, or philosophy.

Sir Fraser is a Scottish-born chemist who shared the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”. He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh (BSc 1964, PhD 1967), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of London, and since 1997 he has worked in the USA, most recently at Northwestern University. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Sir Fraser has been awarded many prizes and fellowships including the Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2007), the Davy Medal of the Royal Society (2008), and membership of the National Academy of Sciences (USA, 2014).

In 2017, Sir Fraser joined UNSW, Sydney to realise his “New Chemistry” initiative. Visiting each year Fraser gives lectures to faculty and students and collaborates on a range of exciting chemistry projects involving the manipulation of molecules to effect devices such as switches, sensors and motors.

To read further about the achievements of Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart, please visit the Distinguished Fellows page of this website.

OCT
01

Distinguished Fellow, Michelle Simmons, appointed to the CSIRO Board

Professor Michelle SimmonsQuantum physicist, former Australian of the Year in 2018, and Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons of UNSW Sydney, has been appointed to the Board of CSIRO for a five-year term. Professor Simmons, who is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, joins the board at a critical time for the science agency, being brought on board the national science agency to help steer the organisation in the COVID response and economic recovery.

In commenting on her appointment, Professor Simmons said that “Australia’s future will be underpinned by the quality of our science and our capacity to nurture science-based industries. CSIRO plays a pivotal role in these respects.”

 

SEP
28

Changing of the guard at the Society's Hunter Branch

Professor George WillisProfessor George Willis FRSN FAA, an ARC Laureate Fellow at the University of Newcastle, has joined the Council of the Royal Society of NSW as the representative of the Hunter Branch.  This follows the decision by Emerita Professor Eugenie Lumbers AM FRSN FAA to step down from the Council, although continuing on as Secretary of the Hunter Branch.

Professor Willis, who is Treasurer of the Hunter Branch, was born in 1954 in Adelaide and lived there for the next 23 years. Growing up, he enjoyed bushwalking, fishing, science, reading and learning, and he was inspired by the Apollo program. His studies led to a BSc (Hons) from the University of Adelaide, received in 1977, and then to research in mathematics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, for which he was awarded a PhD in 1981. Following postdoctoral positions at universities in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, he moved to Newcastle, Australia, in 1992 to be a lecturer in mathematics. He married Catherine in 1979 and they have one daughter.

George finds it enormously satisfying that — by using logic and imagination in powerful, and often beautiful and unexpected ways — mathematics extends our brains’ natural capabilities to new domains. His work uses algebraic methods in combination with precise formulations of intuition about space, symmetry, randomness, approximation and continuity. He has discovered fundamental structure in, and produced new insights about, (potentially) infinite networks, of which family trees and data structures are examples.

Currently an ARC Laureate Fellow, George is extending his exploration of network symmetry with a team of students and postdoctoral fellows. He continues to enjoy learning and now, in addition to learning from his own experience, he sees the world through the eyes of his grandsons as well.

SEP
24

Point Counterpoint: Gas as a Transition Fuel

Gas image The Society is pleased to introduce Point Counterpoint, a new section in its Journal and Proceedings through which scientific debate and disagreement on topics of broad societal interest can be aired and documented.

The first in this series deals with the role of Gas as a Transition Fuel in Australia's and the world's energy systems. In Australia, current debate on this topic commenced with the address to the National Press Club on 12 February 2020 by the Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, on “Planned obsolescence — managing the transition to an electric planet”. 

Eventually, this talk led to the debate and disagreement that is recorded in this issue of the Journal.  Here there are five pieces, for and against the role of natural gas as a transition fuel on the road to a renewable future  A number of these contributions have been published in the mainstream media and are reproduced here with the permission of the authors and the publishers.  They include:

 We hope that you will derive benefit from reading Point Counterpoint.

SEP
10

Postponement of [email protected] (September 2020)

Royal Society of NSWRegrettably, due to unforeseen circumstances, it has been necessary to postpone the second in [email protected] series to be presented jointly by Our Patron, Her Excellency, The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW and the Royal Society of NSW on the evening of 22 September 2020. 

As soon as circumstances permit, the event will be rescheduled and members and friends of the Society will be notified by email and this website.

AUG
28

Nominate a colleague for a Society Award

RSNSW SealNominations closed on 30 September 2020.

Now is your chance to nominate a colleague or friend who you believe is eligible for a Royal Society of NSW Award.

You have the opportunity to nominate a high achiever for the Society’s prestigious prizes for excellence in science, technology, engineering, maths, agriculture, history, philosophy and the betterment of human society.  These are awarded regularly by your Society, Australia’s oldest learned society. One of these awards, the Clarke Medal and Lectureship, has been given continuously since the time of Charles Darwin. These awards recognise outstanding achievement by Australians in their chosen field. Nominations for these Awards are also being sought from all universities in Australia, as well as from major Australian research institutions.

Nominations for the Royal Society of NSW Medal and the Royal Society of NSW Citations are also now sought from Society Members and Fellows. These awards are for exceptional service to the Society, with the Medal being for meritorious contributions to the Society’s administration, organisation, and endeavours.

In 2020, nominations are sought for the:
Archibald Ollé Prize, Clarke Medal, Edgeworth David Medal, History and Philosophy of Science Medal, James Cook Medal, Poggendorff Lectureship, Royal Society of NSW Scholarships, and Warren Prize.

Nominations are alsofor the Royal Society of NSW Medal and the Royal Society of NSW Citations, each of which recognise substantive contributions, by a Member or Fellow, to the work of the Society.

Information about all the Awards, and instructions for making nominations can be found in the ‘Awards’ section of the Society’s website. Click on the Award name in the drop-down list under the ‘Awards’ menu to find details of each.

Nominations close on 30 September 2020 and should be sent to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For all Awards other than the Royal Society of NSW Medal and the Royal Society of NSW Citations, neither the nominator nor the nominee needs to be a Member or Fellow of the Society.

AUG
28

August 2020 Events now on YouTube

Peter Radoll and Science Week 2020 events--The Covid Curve in Context and the Periodic TableEvents held online during August 2020 by the Royal Society of NSW are now available on our YouTube channel.  These are the lecture presented at the1285th Ordinary General Meeting by Professor Peter Radoll (University of Canberra) on the evening of 5 August, and two presentations for Science Week 2020 by Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy and Emeritus Brynn Hibbert, respectively on the evenings of 18 and 20 August.    

Professor Radoll spoke about “Growing Black Tall Poppies”, Professor Clancy discussed the “The COVID Curve in Context”, and Professor Hibbert discussed “The Periodic Table:   a medley of haphazard facts falling into line and order”.  

All online events conducted recently by the Society are available on YouTube and are accessible from the Presentation and Forum pages of the Society’s website.

AUG
27

Vale Professor Richard Stanton - Distinguished Fellow of the Society

Professor Richard Stanton The Society is saddened to learn of the death of one of its Distinguished Fellows, Professor Richard Stanton AO DistFRSN FAA, on 25 August 2020 at the age of 94. Richard Limon Stanton was a distinguished economic geologist.

Born in 1926, he completed his BSc degree at New England University College, University of Sydney (later to become the University of New England) and subsequently worked in mineral exploration in mines in Broken Hill, far north Queensland and Burraga.

After a teaching fellowship at the University of Sydney, where he completed his MSc and PhD, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Queen’s University of Ontario, he became Professor of Geology at the University of New England, Armidale from 1975 to 1986, and subsequently Emeritus Professor. He was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, elected in 1975 for his original contributions to the genesis of ore deposits. Richard Stanton’s subsequent achievements focused on mineral exploration. He recognised the role of volcanism and sedimentation in the formation of new ore deposits, and the physics and chemistry involved in the concentration of copper, zinc and lead in volcanic lavas. This is documented in his numerous publications and books, including Ore Petrology, The Precursor Principle, and Ore Elements in Arc Lavas.

Professor Stanton was the Royal Society and Nuffield Foundation Bursar at Imperial College London and the University of Durham in 1964 and won a Fulbright Award in 1966. He won the Goldfields Gold Medal of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (London) in 1976 and the William Smith Medal of the Geological Society (London) in 1987. He became an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (London) in 1984 and was Vice-President of the Australian Academy of Science from 1989 to 1990. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 1991, and was awarded the W. R. Browne Medal of the Geological Society of Australia in 1990, the Penrose Medal of the Society of Economic Geologists in 1993, and the Haddon Forrester King Medal of the Australian Academy of Science in 1998.

Professor Stanton joined the Royal Society of NSW on 27 July 1949 and was one of its longest standing members. During his career, he received several awards from the Royal Society of New South Wales, including the Olle Prize in 1972, the Society’s Medal in 1973, and the Clarke Medal in 1998, and he presented the Clarke Memorial Lecture in 1985. He was made an inaugural Fellow of the Society in 2009 and was elevated to Distinguished Fellowship in 2012. Also, he was instrumental in the successful operation, and served as a long-standing chair, of the New England Branch of the Society. He was honoured for his achievements by becoming an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1996.

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