Recent events - The Royal Society of NSW - Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-2


1st Annual General Meeting of the Hunter Branch

Open Lecture: Planetary Health—Safeguarding Health in the Anthropocene Epoch 

Professor Tony Capon
Monash University

The Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW has cancelled its Annual General Meeting and Open Lecture, scheduled for 25 March, due to the evolving corona virus pandemic.  Further information about existing registrations will be posted as it becomes available.

Enquiries: Please address enquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (M: 0457 612 463)

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Hunter Branch of the Royal Society of NSW is scheduled to be held at 5.00pm on Wednesday, 25 March at Newcastle City Hall, prior to the Open Lecture on Planetary Health at 5.30 pm.

Open Lecture: Planetary Health

Professor Tony Capon directs the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and holds a chair in planetary health in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. A public health physician and authority in environmental health and health promotion, his research focuses on urbanisation, sustainable development and human health. He is a former director of the International Institute for Global Health at United Nations University (UNU-IIGH) and has previously held professorial appointments at the University of Sydney and Australian National University. He is a member of the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health that published its report Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch in 2015, and the International Advisory Board for The Lancet Planetary Health.

Two of his recent publications are:

  • ‘Advancing Planetary Health in Australia: focus on emerging infections and antimicrobial resistance.’ Hill-Cawthorne et al. BMJ Global Health (2019)4(2) e 001283
  • ‘Human Health on an Ailing Planet’ - Historical Perspectives on Our Future.’ Dunk JH et al. NEJM, 2019, 381(8):778-782

On the Shoulder of Giants: Lecture 1 - Henry Carmichael

Henry Carmichael POSTPONED: Please contact SMSA on 02 9262 7300 regarding bookings

On the Shoulders of Giants: Creation of Learned Societies in NSW 

Henry Carmichael — Educational Progressive, Social Reformer, Secularist, Winegrower

Dr Lesley Scanlon
Vice-President, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Date: Postponed
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney
Entry: $15 for Fellows, Members and Associate Members of the Royal Society and SMSA Members and $20 for Guests and General Entry
Dress Code: Smart Casual
All are welcome. Bookings are essential, either on 02 9262 7300 or through the SMSA booking portal Click Here to Register

This is the first in the four lecture series, On the Shoulders of Giants: Creation of Leaned Societies in Colonial NSW, presented jointly by the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the Royal Society of NSW. This series will broadly cover the history of the two institutions, their contributions to learning and adult education in the colony, and significant figures in both organisations whose impact is felt still today.

When Henry Carmichael arrived in Sydney in 1831 he was on a ‘mission of educational reform’. An indefatigable educational activist, he saw education as a means of developing individual habits of mind and the key to social reform. Carmichael’s progressive educational ideas and practices drew on the works of Jeremy Bentham, Pestalozzi, Lancaster and von Fellenberg. Dr Lesley Scanlon explores how Carmichael actualised these ideas at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Normal Institution and the Porphyry Lyceum. His commitment to the ideal of liberal education is also evident in his advocacy of a national, secular education system and his championship of technical education. It is time to reappraise the work of this early educational thinker whose ideas remain relevant today.

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies 2020

Four Societies logo Challenges for the Future: Energy Storage and Waste Plastic — Two Australian Solutions Going Global’

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer FAA FTSE FMAE FRSN
School of Chemistry, University of Sydney

A joint meeting of the Australian Institute of Energy, the Australian Nuclear Association, the Sydney Division of Engineers Australia, and the Royal Society of NSW.

Date: Thursday, 12 March 2020, 6.00 for 6.30pm
Venue: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney

In any discussion of a sustainable future, two issues loom large. First, how do we store the energy from Australia's abundant renewable resources? Second, how do we deal with the growing mountain of plastic waste?

As it happens, two technological breakthroughs addressing these issues have been developed in Australia by companies co-founded by our speaker, Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sydney:

  •  a zinc-bromide battery, Gelion’s Endure, and
  •  Licella’s Cat-HTR Technology, a chemical recycling process, which turns plastic waste into fuels, waxes, and new plastics that can be recycled again and again.

Prof. Maschmeyer will discuss these within their respective contexts of a changing energy landscape and the circular economy. He will briefly review the status quo in each field and current projections of where the fields as a whole are headed, paying particular attention to the Australian perspective. Within ten years, 8% of the world’s expected battery storage will be located here. With huge resources of energy and space, so close to Asia, Australia has a great opportunity to process plastic wastes, uplift their value and send the intermediate products for further refining into new plastics, chemicals, and fuels offshore.

Thomas Maschmeyer Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is Founding Chairman of Gelion Technologies (2015), co-Founder of Licella Holdings (2007), and inventor of its Cat-HTRTM technology. He is also the Principal Technology Consultant for Cat-HTRTM licensees, Mura Technologies and RenewELP. In 2001, he was one of the founding professors of Avantium, a Dutch High-tech company. Currently, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sydney, he served as Founding Director of the $150million Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology. In 2011 he was elected the youngest Foreign Member of the Academia Europea. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences.

Professor Maschmeyer has authored 325+ publications, cited 10,000+ times, including 26 patents. He serves on the editorial/advisory boards of ten international journals and has received many awards, including the Le Févre Prize of the Australian Academy of Science (2007), the RACI Applied Research Award (2011), the RACI Weickhardt Medal for Economic Contributions (2012), the RACI RK Murphy Medal for Industrial Chemistry (2018), the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science (2018) — Australia’s Principal Science Prize — and, most recently, the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies’ Contribution to Economic Development Award (2019).

Frontiers of Science Forum

Four Logos “ Exploring major discoveries and theories in physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry ”

Professor Ben Eggleton, University of Sydney
Professor Mary Myerscough, University of Sydney
Julianna Kadar, Macquarie University
Professor Richard Payne, University of Sydney

A joint meeting the Australian Institute of Physics, the AIP, RACI, RSNSW Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the Royal Society of NSW, and the Teachers’s Guild of NSW

Date: Friday, 6 March 2020, 5.15pm for 6.00pm
Venue: Boston University Sydney Campus. 15–25 Regent Street, Chippendale

Ever since the Copernican revolution in the 16th century, science has been progressing at an exponential rate. Major discoveries and theories in physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry have shaped our existence and civilisation, and continue to grow exponentially. The Frontiers of Science forum will present four international experts who will speak on current and upcoming developments in their fields.

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

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

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

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

Ben Eggleton is a Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney and Director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute. His research deals with photonics at the nanoscale and his group is famous for developing a photonic chip that manipulates light waves at the nanoscale for applications in communications, defence and sensing. Ben is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Optical Society of America and the IEEE, and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of APL Photonics.

Mary Myerscough received her first degrees in Applied Mathematics from the University of Sydney and completed her doctorate at the Centre for Mathematical Biology at Oxford University. She returned to Sydney to take up a research position in the School of Chemistry at Macquarie University where she studied the mathematics of combustion. She became interested in honey bees when her boss dropped a paper on her desk which suggested that the temperature of a stationary honey bee swarm could be modelled in a similar way to a smouldering lump of coal. Mary has worked on problems in social insect behaviour in collaboration with biological scientists at Sydney University, Macquarie University and CSIRO. She also undertakes research into models for atherosclerotic plaque development. Mary is Professor of Mathematical Biology and the ssociate Head of School (Education) in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney.

Julianna Kadar is a PhD Candidate at Macquarie University in the Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution of Fishes Laboratory. She completed her undergraduate degree at Boston University, a Master of Science in Biodiversity Conservation and a Master of Research in Biology before commencing a PhD in 2017. Julianna participates in many education and outreach activities to spread awareness to students and the public about ocean health, sustainability and the scientific process. She is a researcher with CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools, manages marketing and sales for TEDx Macquarie University, and teaches a STEM in Australia course for Boston University engineering students studying abroad in Sydney. She is also a member of the Homeward Bound Program which is working to build and upskill a network of 1,000 women in STEMM over ten years, and will be traveling to Antarctica in 2020 as part of this exciting program.

Richard Payne was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. He graduated in Science, with first class honours, from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2002. In 2003, he was awarded a Gates Scholarship to undertake his PhD at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Chris Abell. After his PhD, Richard moved to The Scripps Research Institute under the auspices of a Lindemann Postdoctoral Fellowship where he worked in the laboratory of Professor Chi-Huey Wong. In 2008, he was recruited to the University of Sydney as a Lecturer of Organic Chemistry within the School of Chemistry. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2011, Associate Professor in 2013, and since 2015 has held the position as Professor of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Professor Payne’s research focuses on the design and synthesis of complex biomolecules with a view to addressing important problems in biology and medicine. His lab is recognised for pioneering a number of technologies for the assembly of large polypeptides and proteins by chemical synthesis. These methods have underpinned the discovery of modified peptide and protein drug leads (including anti-inflammatories, anti-thrombotics and anti-infectives) for a range of diseases.

1281st OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Robin Batterham Soils: the least understood part of science, yet vital for all of us

Professor Robin J Batterham AO

Kernot Professor of Engineering
University of Melbourne

Date: Wednesday, 4 March 2020, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

The decadal plan for agriculture from our Academy of Science suggests that soils are the least understood part of all science. In this talk we will explore how, if we approach the stewardship of our country differently (and many already are) we can improve our drought resilience, have fewer challenges with run off (save the reef), use fewer farm chemicals, produce zero emission products such as meat and, if we get it right, sequester around 40% of Australia’s emissions. The science to do this is innovative and multifaceted. The talk will end with an invitation that, whether we live in cities or in the country, we all have a role to play.

Professor Batterham AO is a former Chief Scientist of Australia and President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and is presently the Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and The Royal Academy of Engineering, amongst others, and holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Melbourne, the University of Technology Sydney, and the University of Queensland. Previously, he has held senior roles in CSIRO (with responsibilities for collaborative research with mining companies) and with Rio Tinto, as Global Head of Innovation and Vice-President for Processing Developments. Most recently, he has had leadership roles at the interface of University, Industry and Government in areas that include mining, mineral processing, and algal and energy systems. Presently, he is the Chair of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, the Chair of the Australia-China Strategic Research Fund, the Chair of the Australian Chamber Choir, and a Member of the International Mineral Processing Council.

Speaking of Music... The Magic of Solo Violin

Speaking of Music…   The Magic of the Solo Violin

Presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Johann Sebastian Bach J S Bach’s solo violin works are regarded as one of the most sublime levels of musical thought in the entire Western canon. 2020 marks the 300th anniversary of these influential works.

Interspersed with live performances of two complete works for the violin, Dr David Hush will outline the historical reasons that the unaccompanied violin recital is more the exception than the rule today, and explore the ways composers who came before Bach influenced his music, and how Bach, in turn, influenced later composers.

Presentations by Anna Da Silva Chen:
• Sonata for Solo Violin 1 in G minor BWV 1001—J S Bach
• Partita for Solo Violin (2019)—David Hush


Date: Thursday, 27 February 2020, 6.00 for 6.30pm
Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street Sydney

Dr David Hush

Dr David Hush has written works spanning solo instrumental, chamber ensemble, choral and orchestral idioms. They have been performed, recorded and broadcast in North and South America, the UK, Europe, Israel, Australia and South Korea.

Anna Da Silva Chen

Violinist Anna Da Silva Chen is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She has won many prestigious awards and scholarships. Chen has performed as soloist with leading Australian orchestras and ensembles.

2018 RSNSW Liversidge Lecture

Scientia Professor Martina Stenzel Royal Society of NSW Liversidge Lecture

“The journey from simple polymers to nano-footballs: opportunities for better cancer treatment ”

Scientia Professor Martina Stenzel FAA
School of Chemistry, UNSW Sydney

Date: Thursday, 20 February 2020, 5.30pm for 6.00pm
Venue: The Galleries, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney

The Royal Society of New South Wales and UNSW Science invite you to the RSNSW Liversidge Lecture, to be be presented by the 2018 awardee, Professor Martina Stenzel FAA. The Liversidge Lecture is awarded at intervals of two years for the purpose of encouraging research in Chemistry. It was established under the terms of a bequest to the Society by Professor Archibald Liversidge MA LLD FRS, who was Professor of Chemistry in the University of Sydney from 1874 to 1907 and was one of the Council members who sponsored the Society’s Act of Incorporation in 1881.


The journey from simple polymers to nano-footballs: opportunities for better cancer treatment—Professor Stenzel will take the audience on a journey from simple polymers that are widely used for commodity polymers to highly complex nanoparticles that have shapes of footballs, pancakes and bamboo-sticks. These nanoparticle can now be filled with anti-cancer drugs to facilitate the delivery of therapeutic goods into cancer cells. Our main purpose is to understand how the shape and size of these nanoparticle affect the interaction with healthy and cancerous cells.

Scientia Professor Martina Stenzel studied chemistry at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, before completing her PhD in 1999 at the Institute of Applied Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Stuttgart, Germany. She started as a postdoctoral fellow at UNSW in 1999 and is now a full Professor in the school of chemistry as well as co-director of the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD) and the ARC training center for chemical industries. Her research interests focus on the synthesis of functional nanoparticles for drug delivery applications. She is interested in exploring the relationship between the structure of the underpinning polymers and the resulting nanoparticle shape and size, which will ultimately influence the biological activity. Martina Stenzel published more than 300 peer reviewed papers on polymer and nanoparticle design. She is scientific editor of Materials Horizons and serves currently on a range of editorial boards. She received a range of awards including the 2011 Le Fèvre Memorial Prize of the Australian Academy of Science. Martina Stenzel is a Fellow of the Academy of Science and is currently chair of the Academy’ National Chemistry Committee.

1280th OGM and Open Lecture

Royal Society of NSW Presentations by the 2019 Royal Society of NSW Scholarship Recipients

Emma Austin, University of Newcastle
Shyam Balaji, University of Sydney
Michael Papanicolao, University of Technology Sydney and the Garvan Institute
Thomas Pettit, University of Technology Sydney

Please note that the OGM will be held on the second Wednesday of February, rather than the first. 

Date: Wednesday, 12 February 2020, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

The evening’s program comprises four short talks presented by PhD Candidates who have been awarded Royal Society of NSW Scholarships for 2019.

Ms Emma AustinDrought and wellbeing in Australian rural communities: implications for improving adaptive capacity and resilience to drought
Ms Austin’s research investigates the relationship between drought and wellbeing in rural communities in NSW, taking into account the links between wellbeing and adaptive capacity, and the need for the successful adaptation to drought together with increased resilience which is essential for the survival of rural communities.

Mr Shayam Balaji Searches for Extended Higgs Sectors, Flavour Physics Anomalies and Dark Matter at the LHC
Mr Balaji’s research is in the field of particle physics which explores the fundamental building blocks of the Universe and the interactions between them. The focus of his work, as a member of the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, is in testing exotic Higgs boson models and extensions to the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Mr Michael PapanicolaoCharting the Extracellular Matrix Through Breast Tumour Progression
Mr Papanicolao’s research involves investigations into the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in breast tumour progression. The focus of his work is on charting how the ECM evolves with tumour progression, using protein mass spectrometry and advanced imaging to identify targetable proteins that are important in breast cancer metastasis.

Mr Thomas PettitBotanical biofilters for the phytofiltration of urban air pollutants
Mr Pettit’s research is in the field of biofilter technology, in which he has been developing and assessing the use of active green walls to clean the air of active pollutants to provide functional reductions of air pollution in zones where the are most needed.

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-1

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

Professor Ryan Loxton
Curtin University of Technology

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

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

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

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

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.

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
Site by
All rights reserved; copyright © The Royal Society of NSW.

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.