Society Fellow wins 2019 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Fellow Elizabeth New The Royal Society of NSW is delighted that one of its Fellows and the recipient of its 2018 Edgeworth David Medal, Associate Professor Elizabeth New from the University of Sydney, has been awarded the 2019 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. The Society congratulates Elizabeth New on this momentous achievement, and the recognition of the impact of her outstanding research.

Professor New, a chemical biologist, was awarded the Malcolm McIntosh Prize at the Prime Minister's Science Prizes ceremony held at Parliament House, Canberra on 16 October. This prize recognises exceptional, early-career achievements in the physical sciences made within 10 years of PhD graduation, with the recipient receiving $50,000 in prize money, a medallion, a lapel pin, and a certificate. In the case of Professor New, this recognition was for her pioneering work in developing new chemical imaging tools to observe healthy and diseased cells.

The research of Professor New has led to the development of different types of fluorescent sensors which make possible, at the molecular level, the observation of how cells cycle and change through events and over time. While existing imaging systems such as ultrasound and MRI provide valuable structural information, they are unable to characterise the nature and distribution of chemicals within the cell. It is here that the fluorescent sensors developed by Professor New make possible the observation of complex chemical processes within cells, enabling an understanding of how cells cycle through oxidative events over long periods, and in turn opening up potential breakthrough treatments for diseases associated with ageing (e.g., cardiovascular, cancer, and diabetes) that afflict 50% of Australians and which are responsible for 85% of deaths.

More on the oustanding achievements and portfolio of work of Associate Professor Elizabeth New can be found on the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science website.


Establishment of a new branch of the Society

The Council of the Society is delighted to announce the establishment of a new branch located in the Hunter region of NSW, confirmed recently at its meeting on 16 October 2019.  

This follows an inaugural meeting, held in Newcastle on 9 October, at which a branch committee was elected and an invited lecture by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS FAA FTSE FRSN, was presented.


Inaugural Meeting, Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW

An inaugural meeting to establish the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW is planned.

Date: Wednesday, 9 October 2019 at 6.00 pm
Venue: Newcastle Club, 40 Newcomen Street, Newcastle NSW
Enquiries: Emerita Professor Eugenie Lumbers, Acting Honorary Secretary, 0416 154 106

Following the meeting, Professor Hugh Durrant-White, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, will deliver an open lecture titled “Industries of the Future”.

For further information, please inspect the meeting notice on the RSNSW website.



New Issue of the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of NSW (June 2019)

The June 2019 issue (Vol. 152-1) of the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales has just been published.

Much of the content of this issue is devoted to papers arising from the November 2018 Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum, the focus of which was “Towards a prosperous yet sustainable Australia—what now for the Lucky Country?”. 

The issue also contains the final paper (“The scientists and Darwin's The Origin of Species in nineteenth century Australia. A re-evaluation”) by the historian Ann Moyal, who died earlier this year, aged 93, together with an obituary on the late Noel Hush DistFRSN (1924-2019), and abstracts of six PhD dissertations.



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


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.


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).


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.

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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