1289th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Matthew England FRSN FAA“Dispelling climate change myths—how ocean physics can help explain surprises in the modern-day climate record”

Professor Matthew England FRSN FAA
Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 9 December, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video Presentation: YouTube Video

Summary: Certain aspects of the climate record are often seized upon in an attempt to disprove the threat of human-caused climate change. Notable examples include the decade-long slowdown in global surface warming that occurred in the early 2000’s, as well as recent surface cooling and sea-ice expansion around Antarctica. This talk will describe how ocean and climate dynamics can explain these behaviours of the coupled climate system, and how the threat of anthropogenic climate change remains as real as ever.

Professor Matthew England  is a Scientia Professor of Ocean & Climate Dynamics at the University of New South Wales who has previously held ARC Laureate and Federation Fellowships. He was the founding Director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) during 2006-2013. In 2014 England was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 2016 as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and was the winner of the Society's most prestigious award, the James Cook Medal, in 2019.



1288th OGM and Open Lecture

Helicobacter pylori image “Where have all the ulcers gone — long time passing?”

Professor Adrian Lee FRSN and
Professor Thomas Borody FRSN
UNSW Sydney (1) and
Centre for Digestive Diseases (2)

Date: Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom Webinar.
Video presentation: YouTube video

This is the first presentation in the series Great NSW Discoveries, a sequence of presentations documenting past and present discoveries that have made a difference. In it, Emeritus Professor Lee and Professor Borody will tell little known stories of the essential contributions by RSNSW Fellows to one of the greatest medical advances in our times. The presentations will be introduced by Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN and the discussions will be rounded out by Emeritus Professor The Honourable Peter Baume AC DistFRSN.

Summary: In 1982 Robin Warren and Barry Marshall at the Royal Perth Hospital described the presence of squiggly bacteria in the gastric mucosa of patients with Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD).Helicobacter pylori was on the map! They would deservedly be awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery, which would change the world – medicine would never be the same again. It is not possible for even the modern generation of gastroenterologists to appreciate the way PUD dominated the lives of both patients and doctors 50 years ago — surgical lists were full of patients for gastrectomy, medical wards with patients with uncontrolled pain and complications. Twenty percent of men had a Duodenal Ulcer. Emergency rosters meant bleeding or perforated ulcers. Yet today, PUD is rarely seen – a recent analysis of the impact of H. pylori and its eradication over 25 years in Australia shows a saving of 19,000 deaths, and $10B in costs.

Warren and Marshall would have struggled to develop their ideas without the professional support of Professor Adrian Lee, with a long history of study of “squiggly” bacteria in the gut. His experience in the growth of these bacteria, their role in animal models, and his contributions to diagnosis, vaccine development and the link to cancer, added to the biology and broad understanding of these bacteria, enabling interpretation of the Perth discovery in a biological context. Warren and Marshall understood the importance of eradication to prove causation, but were unable to develop sterilising therapy, so only an association could be claimed. Professor Tom Borody carefully trialled a series of antibiotics to develop the first effective antibiotic combination, enabling for the first time, proof of causation of duodenal ulcers. This began a long sequence of contributions to our understanding and treatment of PUD by Borody including addition of PPI’s, and development of “escape” therapy. He worked with the Newcastle group to develop the first “near-patient” “yes/no” test, and identified a role for the host response in conditioning outcomes of the “host-parasite” relationship.

Adrian Lee will discuss Adventures with spiral bugs and Helicobacter.  Adrian’s adventure began in 1967 at the Rockefeller University in New York when he did a post doc with Rene Dubos one of the grandfathers of the gut microbiome. Moving to UNSW in 1969 as a lecturer in Medical Microbiology, he continued his interest in the bacteria of the mouse intestinal tract concentrating on the spiral/helical bacteria that colonised gut mucus. He also worked on the spiral pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni, and then on the organism that Barry Marshall and Robin Warren had grown from gastric biopsies using his culture techniques. Later, he developed the first animal models of Helicobacter pylori infection including the first vaccine studies and demonstration of H.pylori -induced gastric malignancy. For ten years, he travelled the world trying to convince clinicians to treat H.pylori infection. Progressing to Professor of Medical Microbiology in 1990, he also worked as a WHO consultant in medical education. In 2000, he left his beloved spiral bugs to cross to the dark side at UNSW becoming Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) with a brief to improve the quality of teaching. Retiring in 2006, he carried out consultancies in tertiary education and now writes about his squiggly bugs and runs a choir.

Tom Borody will discuss How we cured Helicobacter pylori infection in Australia.  Professor Borody is a world renowned medical doctor from Australia with over 40 years experience in clinical research and practice, including at the St Vincent Hospital in Sydney and at the Mayo clinic in the US. In 1984 he established the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney, overseeing its growth into an active clinical research institute with 65 employees. Professor Borody is most famous for his ground-breaking work developing the triple therapy cure for peptic ulcers in 1987, which has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and the Australian health system more than $10 billion in medical care and operations. Professor Borody is a leader in the clinical microbiota dating back to 1988 when he started performing what is now called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT). He holds over 150 patents in areas such as; treatment of Helicobacter pylori, Crohn’s disease, bowel lavage, IBS and FMT. 


RSNSW and Four Academies Forum 2020

Globe and coronavirus“After COVID-19:
Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times”

Date: Thursday, 5 November 2020, 8.50am – 4.30pm
Venue: Live streaming from Government House, Sydney.
Report and Videos: Forum Report and YouTube Playlist


One hundred years after the 1918 Spanish flu claimed more than 50 million lives, pandemics remain on the list of major global risks. They are difficult to predict and invariably alter the course of history in ways we cannot foresee. The impact of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic spread quickly well beyond the people it infected, creating massive shifts across society and all sectors of the economy.

The pandemic has exposed the social and economic vulnerabilities of today’s highly leveraged and interconnected world. It has also compounded prevailing existential risks for Australia, including the impact of climate change, a decade of household income stagnation, and an erosion of critically important political institutions that underpin national prosperity and our free, open, democratic society.

The Royal Society of New South Wales will again join with the four Learned Academies of Australia to stage our annual Forum in Government House, Sydney, on 5th November under the gracious Vice-Regal Patronage of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales. The Forum will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has become a wake-up call for all of us to drive a wide-ranging, national program that will create a more resilient, self-sufficient and prosperous Australia.

Transformations achieved already during the pandemic include escalations of telemedicine, automation, and digital commerce and communications, to name but a few. These show us what is possible when the wrecking-ball of a virus exacts its human and economic toll. Our challenge now is to take these transformations further and build the society and institutions we envisage for a much better future.

The Royal Society of NSW acknowledges the generous support of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, the NSW Government Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the New South Wales Smart Sensing Network.


The complete program, containing abstracts of the presentations and brief biographies of the presenters, is available as a pdf document.

Start End  
08:30 08:50 Registration 
08:50 08:55 Guests seated
08:55 09:15 Governor is announced into the Ballroom
    Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
President, Royal Society of NSW
    Official Opening
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Governor of New South Wales
    Introduction to the Moderator and Rapporteur  (Eric Knight FRSN, Executive Dean, Macquarie Business School)
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE— Chair, Forum Program Committee
09:15 10:15 Keynote Address
Immunity from history: what can we learn from collective responses to crises
Peter Hobbins — Principal Historian, Artefact Heritage Services
10:15 10:45 Morning Tea — served on the Verandah
10:45 11:45 Session I: Forging a resilient future for Australia’s youth
    The New Normal? Living in the liminal and what comes next?
Genevieve Bell AO FTSE— Distinguished Professor and Director, 3A Institute, The Australian National University, and Senior Fellow, Intel
    Emerging generations and evolving intersections between technology and humanity
Jordan Nguyen — Founder & CEO, Psykinetic
11:45 12:45 Session II: Sweeping Changes to Australia’s Healthcare System
    COVID-19: Transforming the way we provide health care
Teresa Anderson AM — Chief Executive, Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health
    The Australian COVID-19 public health response: lessons and future directions
Gregory Dore — Scientia Professor and Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
12:45 14:00 Lunch  — served on the Verandah
14:00 15:00 Session III: Australia’s Culture and Creative Industries
    The weaving power of indigenous storytelling
Larissa Behrendt AO FASSA — Distinguished Professor, University of Technology Sydney
    For what it’s worth: performing arts value lost and found during COVID-19
Bethwyn Serow — Arts and Policy Strategist
15:00 16:00 Reshaping Australia’s Institutions
    Martin Parkinson AC PSM FASSA — Chancellor, Macquarie University
    Anne Tiernan — Professor and Dean Engagement, Griffith Business School, Griffith University
    in conversation with
Julianne Schultz AM FAHA — Professor in Media and Culture, Griffith University, and Chair, The Conversation Media Group
16:00 16:30 Rapporteur Session
Eric Knight FRSN, Macquarie University
16:30 18:00 Refreshments — served on the Verandah

1287th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Huw Price“Where now for the study of time?”

Professor Huw Price
Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy
University of Cambridge

Date: Wednesday, 7 October 2020, 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Summary: The scientific world has just marked the centenary of Sir Arthur Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light by gravity. This work, based on observations during a solar eclipse in 1919, made Eddington a household name. He became one of the great science communicators of his generation. When he died in 1944, TIME magazine said that the world had lost 'one of mankind’s most reassuring cosmic thinkers'.

One of Eddington's favourite cosmic subjects was Time's Arrow, a term he himself introduced to the literature in his 1927 book, The Nature of the Physical World. Eddington thought that there is something essential about time that physics is liable to neglect: the fact that it "goes on", as he often puts it.

Despite the best efforts of philosophers to pour cold water on this idea, similar claims are still made today, in physics as well as in philosophy. In the lecture that begins this presentation, Huw Price argues all sides in these debates can profit by going back to Eddington. Eddington appreciates some of the pitfalls of these claims with greater clarity than their contemporary proponents, and also issues a challenge to rival views that deserves to be better known.

The lecture was delivered in Copenhagen in 2011 at Setting Time Aright – An international and inter-disciplinary meeting investigating the Nature of Time. This was the third international conference of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), and it was organised in conjunction with the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney. For this evening’s event, Huw Price is joined by two current co-Directors of the Centre for Time, Kristie Miller and Alex Holcombe, to ask: Where now for the study of time?

What Kristie Miller will talk about: One compelling account of time is that time is a fourth dimension similar to, but not the same as, the three spatial dimensions. On this view, each of us is extended along this temporal dimension. So rather than its being the case that we move through time, by being first here, and then there, instead we are really one long elongated worm that is stretched out through time. Often though, this is not how we conceptualise time, nor is it how we experience time, or ourselves in time. Regardless of what time is really like, the ways that people think about, and experience, time, have an impact on how they understand their lives. Some of our most recent research focuses on the ways in which what we want, and where we want it, are affected by the ways that we think about and engage with the temporal dimension. In a nutshell, one hypothesis is that the way we think about time leads us to have what seem to be irrational preferences: we prefer that we experience more suffering, rather than less suffering, as long as that suffering is located in our past, rather than our future.

What Alex Holcombe will talk about: Alex will explain how scientific psychology research has revealed a number of illusions associated with our experience of time, and hopefully demonstrate a few of them, screen sharing and video link permitting. These illusory phenomena, together with theoretical considerations regarding what perception is for, cast doubt on the validity of inferences about the nature of reality from our experience.

Professor Huw Price is Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy and a Fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He is Academic Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, and was co-founder with Martin Rees and Jaan Tallinn of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. In 2019 he joined the inaugural Board of the Ada Lovelace Institute, and became the UK Director of the new China-UK Research Centre for AI Ethics and Governance. Before moving to Cambridge in 2011 he was ARC Federation Fellow and Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, where he was founding Director of the Centre for Time.

His publications include Facts and the Function of Truth (Blackwell, 1988; 2nd. edn. OUP, forthcoming), Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point (OUP, 1996), Naturalism Without Mirrors (OUP, 2011) and a range of articles in journals such as Nature, Science, Philosophical Review, Journal of Philosophy, Mind, and British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. His René Descartes Lectures (Tilburg, 2008) were published as Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism (CUP, 2013), with commentary essays by Simon Blackburn, Robert Brandom, Paul Horwich and Michael Williams. He is also co-editor of three collections published by Oxford University Press: Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality (2007, co-edited with Richard Corry); Making a Difference (2017, co-edited with Helen Beebee and Chris Hitchcock); and The Practical Turn (2017, co-edited with Cheryl Misak).

He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow and former Member of Council of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and a Past President of the Australasian Association of Philosophy. He was consulting editor for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy from 1995–2006, and is an associate editor of The Australasian Journal of Philosophy and on the editorial boards of Contemporary Pragmatism, Logic and Philosophy of Science, the Routledge International Library of Philosophy, and the European Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Associate Professor Kristie MillerAssociate Professor Kristie Miller is an ARC Future Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, and a co-Director of the Centre for Time. She works primarily in metaphysics, which is the study of what things there are, and how things interact. Her work in the philosophy of time focuses on two distinct kinds of questions. The first of these is what time, in itself, is like. Her most recent work in this area investigates the question of whether, in light of recent theories in physics that dispense with time altogether in their description of the world, we should conclude that reality is in some good sense timeless. Or, should we instead conclude that time somehow emerges out of a kind of timeless stew. The second of these questions pertains to the connection between time, and our experience of ourselves in time. Her most recent work in this area investigates both how we think about, conceptualize, and experience time.

Professor Alex HolcombeProfessor Alex Holcombe is a professor of psychology at the University of Sydney and co-director of its Centre for Time. Inside the lab, he studies how humans perceive and process visual signals over time. Outside of the lab, he has been active in open science initiatives such as and co-founded the Association for Psychological Science journal Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science.


1286th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor John Rasko AO“The Dawn of Molecular Medicine—Gene Therapy: past, present and future”

Professor John Rasko AO
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Centenary Institute, University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 2 September 2020, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video recording: YouTube Video

Summary: Over the next five years a possible 900% increase in Gene and Stem Cell Therapy approvals has been forecast. The convergence of substantial incremental technical advances towards combined cell and gene therapy has led to improved clinical outcomes in immune deficiencies, haemoglobinopathies, blindness, immunotherapies and other inherited diseases. An audit of cell, tissue and gene products with marketing authorization in 2018 worldwide identified 44 unique products, 37 of them are cell and tissue therapies (84%) and mainly autologous (55%).

The challenge of realizing the full potential of genetic understanding has been vital in overcoming the hurdles of efficient gene therapy. Since the first human clinical trial using gene technology in 1989, there have been nearly 3,000 approved clinical trials worldwide. The overwhelming majority of human clinical trials involves short-term gene expression or random integration of a therapeutic gene. Emerging technologies require controlled development in compliance with safety, regulatory and GMP requirements.  More precise gene targeting tools were first described in the early 2000s. Targeted gene editing or replacement using Zinc Finger Nucleases or TALENS have been tested in about a dozen clinical trials since 2009. 

In parallel with objectively proven therapies, ‘stem cell tourism’ has become a billion dollar industry with increasing examples of false claims. Embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells have been mired in controversy and clinical development has been forestalled. We reported an analysis of the global distribution of more than 400 unique businesses marketing stem cell-based interventions. Many of these online entities promote clinical applications of ‘stem cells’ beyond present-day standards of care. These data should be of immediate concern to governments and ethicists being lobbied to amend laws governing the manufacture, distribution and clinical use of human cell-based medical products. Unregulated, untested or unsafe stem cell ‘therapies’ place the field at a difficult crossroad. Blurring the lines that distinguish evidence-based cell therapies from those that are not remains a fundamental public health concern.

Highlights in the clinical cell & gene therapy field will be discussed with special reference to haemophilia, thalassemia, graft versus host disease and cancer.

 Professor John Rasko is an Australian pioneer in the application of adult stem cells and genetic therapy. Since 1999 he has directed the Department of Cell and Molecular Therapies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at the Centenary Institute, University of Sydney. He is the President (2018-20) of the prominent International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy.

John Rasko is a clinical haematologist, pathologist and scientist with an international reputation in gene and stem cell therapy, experimental haematology and molecular biology. In over 160 publications he has contributed to the understanding of stem cells and blood cell development, gene therapy technologies, cancer causation and treatment, human genetic diseases and molecular biology.

He serves on hospital, state and national bodies including Chair of GTTAC, Office of the Gene Technology Regulator — responsible for regulating all genetically-modified organisms in Australia — and immediate past Chair of the Advisory Committee on Biologicals, Therapeutic Goods Administration. Contributions to scientific organisations include co-founding (2000) and past-President (2003-5) of the Australasian Gene & Cell Therapy Society; Vice President (2008-12) and President-Elect (2016-18) International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy; Scientific Advisory Committees and Board member for philanthropic foundations; and several Human Research Ethics Committees. He is a founding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2018, the Board of the ABC honoured him as the sixtieth Boyer Lecturer. He is the recipient of national (RCPA, RACP, ASBMB) and international awards in recognition of his commitment to excellence in medical research, including appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia.


Science Week 2020: The Periodic Table

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert“The Periodic Table: ‘.. a medley of haphazard facts falling into line and order’ (C. P. Snow)”

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW and UNSW Sydney

Date: Thursday, 20 August 2020, 6.00pm 
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video Presentation: YouTube video

The ancients had isolated and named around thirteen substances, mostly metals, not necessarily realising they were unique, chemically-indivisible ‘elements’. With the discovery of Oganesson (118 Og) we have completed the seventh row of the modern periodic table. In between, the science of Chemistry has been built on the discovery and manipulation of more and more of the elements that make up our world.

Periodic Table reduced

2019 was declared the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, being the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the modern periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev.

Brynn Hibbert will take a ramble through the table, re-telling great stories that have been collected by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute as part of its celebrations of Mendeleev’s discovery, and explaining just how we discover and name new elements. Hibbertium here we come!

No chemistry training is required by the audience but the talk does address the NSW Chemistry Stage 6 Syllabus Module 1: Periodicity with inquiry question “Are there patterns in the properties of elements?” and so might be of interest to schools.

Brynn Hibbert is a former, and now Emeritus, Professor of  Analytical Chemistry at UNSW. He is a go-to expert witness in the courts on matters chemical, particularly on drugs of abuse (in society and sports), although he has been known to do the occasional murder. As a member of committees of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)  he has been involved in the formal recognition process of new elements, his first  foray being Copernicium (element 112) and most recently Oganesson (118). In 2019 he won the first essay competition on ‘stories from the periodic table’ organised by the RACI with his tale of the discovery of iodine (and which will be re-told in his talk). Brynn is a Vice President of the RSNSW, and was President in 2016 – 2017.


Science Week 2020: The COVID Curve in Context

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy“The COVID Curve in Context:  or Back to the Future—something old and something new”

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW and the University of Newcastle

Date: Tuesday, 18 August 2020, 6.00pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Image Professor Clancy’s talk will address two issues: (a) the pattern of health in Australia, and how COVID-19 fits this pattern, and what we can learn from past pandemics in Australia; and (b) why old people die and young people “don’t turn a hair”, and how we can make our airways young again.  The talk will also consider why we don’t have a useful vaccine, and what we need to do, and can do, in the future to learn to live with COVID-19.

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy was the Foundation Professor of Pathology in the University of Newcastle Medical School and a clinical immunologist who undertook research in mucosal immunology and the development of mechanisms to enhance mucosal resistance and control mucosal inflammation. He has a strong involvement in the biotechnology of natural products that maximise mucosal immune competence, protecting against infection, and he maintains a clinic in gastroenterology focused on inflammatory bowel disease.

Professor Clancy also has strong, longstanding interests in histocartography relating to the discovery and development of Terra Australis, and the history of science and medicine, with a focus on epidemics. He has written five books on histocartography and is a regular speaker on maps—curating exhibitions and writing numerous articles on this topic.


1285th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Professor Peter Radoll“Growing Black Tall Poppies”

Professor Peter Radoll
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous)
University of Canberra

Date: Wednesday, 5 August 2020, 6.30pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video recording: YouTube video

How do the contradictions of success intersect with race, higher education and Indigenous cultural values?

We are at a time that doing the right thing now seems more important than considering the long-term future of our community. Governments are trying to meet Indigenous employment targets, by funnelling many of our potential best and brightest into government traineeships from year 11, taking them away from the opportunity pipeline of future university study. The competition to attract these students to universities results in letting them know that they do not have to obtain the best grades at school as there are other pathways designed just for them; a subtle message that you do not have to excel. This can become a demotivating factor for Indigenous students who ideally would be better suited to a degree that requires a top ATAR score, and one that they are capable of achieving.

Are these structures supporting our success, or stopping us from reaching our full potential? 

As new terms, such as ‘cyber feminism’ enter our lexicon in the era of gender politics, within our universities, 75% of all professors are male, yet the majority of Indigenous university leaders are female.  Female Indigenous university enrolments and completions out number Indigenous males two to one. 

As we take on these challenges and complexities,we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to capitalise on our ipseity.  As a Nation, by all of us embracing Indigenous culture, as the whole of our Australian history and story, we do not lose or give away something that we hold close. Instead, we all gain so much more knowledge and become richer for the embrace.

Professor Peter Radoll is a descendant of the Anaiwan people from the New England ranges area of Northern New South Wales.He is currently Professor of Information Technology and Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous at the University of Canberra. Peter is also Director of the Ngunnawal Centre at the University which provides support, training and study facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – a role dear to his heart.

Starting out his working life as a motor mechanic, Peter has gone on to well over ten years as a senior academic and leader in the higher education sector at the Australian National University, The University of Newcastle and the University of Canberra. Peter’s passion and commitment to Indigenous Higher Education is also evident in the roles he has outside the University. He is a Director on the Board of the Smith Family, the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC), and a Member of the Advisory Group for the CSIRO Indigenous Girls’ STEM Academy.


1284th OGM and Open Lecture

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE FRSN“Why Art Matters in Times of Crisis”

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE FRSN

Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 8 July 2020, 6.30pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video recording: YouTube video

The Royal Society of NSW has long emphasised science, but literature, arts and philosophy have always been categories of interest and responsibility. Today, we find more and more that neither the arts nor science can stand alone; each needs the other. Ms Macgregor is fascinated by the interrelationship of science and creativity. In this important talk she will raise ideas about the indispensability of the arts especially in a time in which it seems as if our survival depends only on science.

Summary: Museums and galleries around the world have had to close their doors, turning to digital programs to stay connected with their audiences. News is dominated by the health crisis and the consequent financial issues. What role can museums and galleries play in these unsettling times where social distancing is the norm? MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor believes in the social impact of art and will outline how artists can play a critical role as we face the challenges of a changed world post crisis.

Ms Elizabeth Macgregor began her career as curator/driver of the Scottish Arts Council's Travelling Gallery. which ignited her commitment to engaging new audiences with the work of living artists. In 1989 she was appointed director of Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and in 1999 she took up the directorship of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art when it was facing significant challenges. To secure its future, she negotiated a new funding model with government, sponsors and philanthropists. Committed to supporting artists and expanding the audience for art, she has initiated a unique program of partnerships in Western Sydney. She successfully negotiated a $53m building redevelopment completed in 2012 which includes a National Centre for Creative Learning. Last year, the Museum attracted over a million visitors. Ms Macgregor’s innovation and contribution to the arts has been recognised with the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award in 2008 and the Australia Business Arts Foundation Business Leadership Award. In 2011 she received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. In 2019 she was included in ArtReview’s International Power 100 list; she won the 'Arts & Culture Category' of the Australian Financial Review '100 Women of Influence Awards', and was awarded the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue’s Patrons’ Prize for Collaboration. She sits on the Foundation of the Sydney Swans and the Board of UNICEF Australia.


Annual Dinner 2020, Distinguished Fellow's Lecture and 199th Birthday Celebration

2020 Annual Dinner, Distinguished Speak Lecture and 199th Anniversary


YouTube video of the Event.

Join us, online, for the Royal Society of NSW’s black-tie Annual Dinner and to celebrate our 199th Birthday, looking forward to our third century. Our Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, will deliver her annual message to the Society.

Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions now allow small gatherings—so why not dress for the occasion, invite friends to share this intellectual and celebratory evening, and toast the Society on its 199th Birthday!

What is an important Birthday without presents?

As a birthday present to the Society for its extraordinary 199-year achievement, we invite Members, Fellows and friends to support our Library and expand its digital collections. We have begun to record and curate our lectures and events, but we are reliant on sub-professional equipment.

Our priority is to buy video/audio recording, streaming and editing equipment—cameras, microphones, video switching equipment, editing software, etc. Help us to enable the Society to build on what it has learnt during these unprecedented COVID times and continue to provide quality online services as we transition to a future that combines face-to-face and online events.

We welcome contributions to the Society’s Library Fund and are grateful to each of you for your gift and your participation in the Society. Donations to the Library Fund are tax deductible and may be made by:

  • Electronic Funds Transfer: from your bank account directly into the Society’s account using the details below. To receive your tax receipt, please also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. advising that you have donated and stating the amount and the transaction date.
Account name:  Royal Society of NSW Library Fund   BSB: 062 319
Reference:  Your family name and initials  Account Number:  1027 5175
  • Credit Card: Via Currinda, at this link, or by phone through the Society’s administrative partner, The Association Specialists, on 02 9431 8691. Please note, credit card payments incur a small transaction fee.

1283rd OGM and Open Lecture

Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott“Drinking for three: Mother, baby and society”

Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FRSN FAHMS

The University of Sydney and
Sydney Children’s Hospital (Westmead)

Date: Wednesday, 3 June 2020, 6.30pm
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video recording: YouTube video

Summary: Australians love alcohol! Amongst the highest consumers in the world, we are renowned for our excellent quality wine. Our national sporting teams are sponsored by the alcohol industry and advertising and promotion of alcohol is rife, including to children. Yet the costs of alcohol are immense. It is difficult to measure the full economic impact of alcohol on our health and mental health and our education, child protection and justice systems. It is impossible to measure the costs to individuals and society.

Alcohol has a particularly devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of society — our children. Tonight, I will discuss the topic of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and the current state of play in Australia. FASD results from the brain injury to the unborn child that is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Children with FASD have severe neurodevelopmental impairment, birth anomalies and learning and behavioural problems, which have lifelong consequences.

Over two decades there has been enormous progress in the recognition of FASD as a significant but preventable public health problem. Clinical practice, education, service development and policy have been guided by a national collaborative approach involving clinicians, researchers, parent support groups, Indigenous communities and NGOs — with government and NHMRC funding. We have a national action plan, advisory group, website, and disease register, training programs and specialist FASD assessment clinics, and research and clinical networks. We have innovative diagnostic techniques and access to the NDIS. But, the future is prevention, which remains our biggest challenge: 60% of Australian women continue to drink during pregnancy and children are increasingly diagnosed with FASD. We know what will minimise alcohol harms but face significant challenges to implementing these interventions, as will be discussed.

About the speaker: Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott holds a Chair in Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and is Consultant Paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (Westmead). She holds a prestigious Practitioner Fellowship, her third, from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. In 2019 she received the James Cook Medal for 2018 from the Royal Society of NSW – its highest honour – and was the first female amongst its 47 recipients at that time.

Professor Elliott has dedicated her career to advancing human rights, health and quality of life for ill and disadvantaged children in Australia and beyond, through education, research, clinical care and advocacy. Specific examples include promoting the health and human rights of: children disabled by rare diseases, FASD and vaccine-preventable and other infectious diseases; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly those in remote Australia; Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children, particularly in Immigration detention; children receiving Cochlear implants; Children with Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGMC); and Children living in developing countries in our region, particularly Vietnam.

For over 20 years, Professor Elliott has worked to improve the lives of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Australia. She is regarded as pre-eminent in advocacy, research, policy and clinical care regarding FASD and has an international reputation in the field. She is a member of the Australian Government’s FASD Advisory Committee; Co-Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in FASD; Co-Director of the Care and Intervention for Children and Adolescents with Drug and Alcohol Problems (CIDADA); and Head of the CICADA NSW FASD Assessment clinic.

Australian Government funding has allowed Professor Elliott and colleagues to: conduct a FASD prevalence study in remote Aboriginal communities of WA and develop a national Guide to the Diagnosis of FASD, a national Hub (website), a national surveillance system and case Register for FASD, a program to evaluate and disseminate the Diagnostic Guide, and a series of online e-learning modules on alcohol use in pregnancy and FASD. She leads several NHMRC and government funded projects on alcohol in pregnancy and FASD. In 2018 she received the Australian Medical Association’s Excellence in Healthcare Award for her work in FASD and in 2019 received the Starfish Award for research and advocacy in at the International FASD conference in Canada.

Professor Elliott will speak on “Drinking for Three: Mother, baby and society”, a consideration of the urgency of properly addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.


[email protected]: May 2020

Governor of NSW Crest-Silver and Gold-2020[email protected]

Presented by

Her Excellency the Honourable
Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy
“Ten: the Mapping of Colonial Australia

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
The University of Newcastle

Date: Thursday, 21 May 2020, 7.00pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video recording: YouTube video

About the talk: Maps are documents of history: they tell a story of place in context. The printed map has been available for 500 years—a remarkable coincidence with the story of Terra Australis, the mapping of Australia, and of the transition from mythology to empiricism as Western science took centre stage. The human history of New South Wales pre-dates all this by at least 60,000 years, engraved in rock, and embedded in a social history looking at the stars.

The intent of this talk is to highlight a very small part of the cartographic story, namely that of the colonial period from 1788 to 1901. The story will be told through a cartographic record of change events, covering a century where a “gaol of 1000 souls would become an independent nation with the highest standard of living in the world”, and told in the context of the colonial governors of the day — ten from the date of colonisation in 1788 through to responsible government in 1855, and ten from 1855 up to Australian Federation in 1901.

Which governors do you think made the most significant differences during this transition?

About the speaker: Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy was the Foundation Professor of Pathology in the University of Newcastle Medical School and a clinical immunologist who undertook research in mucosal immunology and the development of mechanisms to enhance mucosal resistance and control mucosal inflammation. He has a strong involvement in the biotechnology of natural products that maximise mucosal immune competence, protecting against infection, and he maintains a clinic in gastroenterology focused on inflammatory bowel disease.

Professor Clancy has strong, longstanding interests in histocartography relating to the discovery and development of Terra Australis, and the history of science and medicine, with a focus on epidemics. He has written five books on histocartography and is a regular speaker on maps—curating exhibitions and writing numerous articles on this topic. Together with his wife, Christine, he run tours in Europe on the history of medicine and pharmacy, and the history of science.

About [email protected]: In late 2019, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales and Patron of the Royal Society of NSW, invited representatives of the Society to discuss how the Governor might open Government House to a series of public events based on important and/or influential ideas. Her Excellency’s proposal was that the Royal Society of NSW and other organisations might devise a series of lectures, to be held at Government House, and known as [email protected] on topics of our choice for an invited audience of our Members and Fellows, together with others to be invited by Her Excellency. The lecture would be followed by a reception hosted by Her Excellency. In January 2020, the Governor accepted three topics proposed by the Society. Since then the social restrictions of COVID-19 have intervened, with the face-to-face presentation and reception having to be replaced by an online webinar followed by a live question and answer session. We look forward to a future when we can enjoy the Governor's hospitality at the House.


Meeting Notice - 153rd AGM and 1282nd OGM

Royal Society of NSW

153rd Annual General Meeting
1282nd Ordinary General Meeting

Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2020, 6.00pm 
Venue: Zoom Webinar (Connection link to be provided by email)

Special Note: In line with evolving advice from Commonwealth and State health authorities regarding COVID-19, the Society has suspended face-to-face meetings for the indefinite future. All future events, including formal Society meetings and the events program, will be conducted via video streaming.

Update (1 April 2020):  The balloting process for the Council Elections will commence on 3 April 2020.  

Annual General Meeting

Business of the Annual General Meeting

The formal business of the Annual General Meeting will be conducted using an electronic ballot. In this, Members and Fellows (who are financial for 2020) will receive an email from the Society's Returning Officer, via the electronic balloting company, Election Buddy.  This email will include a unique ballot link that provides a random, secret access key for each voter. Voter anonymity is assured by ballot settings which ensure that voter choices cannot be linked to any voter.

Since there is a candidate standing for election as Vice-President and the Honorary Librarian, it may be necessary to hold two ballots:

  • A first ballot, running between 3–10 April, to conduct the procedural business of the AGM, together with an election for the Vice-Presidents, comprising:
    • Confirmation of the minutes of the 152nd Annual General Meeting
    • Confirmation that the Annual Report of Council and the Financial Statements for 2019 be received
    • Confirmation of the proposed Auditors for 2020
    • Election of three (3) Vice-Presidents, from a field of five (5) nominees.
  • A second ballot, running between 13–20 April, may be needed to conduct an election for:
    • The Honorary Librarian, from a field of two (2) nominees.

The Agenda and Minutes of the previous AGM are available on the Meetings page of this website.  The Annual Report from Council and the Financial Statements for 2019 are available on the Governance page.

The Annual General Meeting will be held on 22 April by Zoom webinar, at which the results of the ballots will be announced. Members will be provided in advance with a Zoom webinar link through which to join the AGM/OGM webinar. The Ordinary General Meeting will commence immediately following the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting. 

Election of Members of Council and Office-Bearers (2020–21)

Listed below are the nominations for the 2020–21 Council received by the Society's Secretariat by the close of business on Thursday, 12 March 2020.

For those office-bearer roles where there are more nominees than available positions, an election is required. In these cases, nominees have been invited to provide an optional statement outlining how their expertise and experience fits them for these roles and will benefit the Society.

The statements may be accessed by either:

President Ian Sloan Donald Hector Brynn Hibbert
Vice-President (3 positions) Robert Clancy John Hardie Bruce Ramage
  John Hardie Robert Clancy Brynn Hibbert
  Brynn Hibbert John Hardie Bruce Ramage
  Susan Pond Ian Sloan Donald Hector
  Judith Wheeldon Eric Aslaksen Richard Wilmott
Honorary Secretary (General) Bruce Ramage Robert Clancy Brynn Hibbert
Honorary Secretary (Editorial)      
Honorary Librarian Ragbir Bhathal Brynn Hibbert Robert Clancy
  John Hardie Robert Clancy Brynn Hibbert
Honorary Treasurer Richard Wilmott Bruce Ramage Judith Wheeldon
Honorary Webmaster Lindsay Botten Bruce Ramage Stuart Midgley
Councillors (10 positions) Ian Bryce John Hardie Judith Wheeldon
  Robert Clancy John Hardie Bruce Ramage
  Virginia Judge Richard Wilmott Ragbir Bhathal
  Stuart Midgley Susan Pond Stephen Hill
  Bruce Milthorpe Bruce Ramage Brynn Hibbert
  Nyrie Palmer Stuart Midgley Donald Hector
  Robert Whittaker Donald Hector Brynn Hibbert

Ordinary General Meeting 

The 1282nd Ordinary General Meeting will follow the Annual General Meeting and includes a live, video-streamed Open Lecture.  

“Presidential reflections—science stuff and the President’s random path”
Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO FAA FRSN, President, Royal Society of NSW

The Agenda for this meeting and Minutes of the previous OGM can be found on the Meetings page of this website.

The President will sketch his seemingly erratic research career—from atomic physics to mathematics to astrophysics—using the metaphor of the random walk, and touching lightly on science and history along the way. Turning back two centuries, he will describe the Society’s significant early involvement in astronomy through its first President, Sir Thomas Brisbane GCB GCH FRS FRSE.

Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan received a PhD in atomic physics from University College London. After a short (and unpromising) year in industry, he joined the University of New South Wales, and is there still. His research career, covering many areas of physics and computational mathematics, has received a number of awards, including the Lyle Medal of the Australian Academy of Science. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a former President of the International Council on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).


1282nd OGM and Open Lecture

Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan Presidential Reflections—science stuff and the President’s random path

Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO FRSN FAA
School of Mathematics and Statistics
UNSW Sydney

President, Royal Society of NSW

Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2020, 6.00pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Annual General Meeting

The meeting will commence with the announcement of the results of Council Elections, including the procedural motions and outcome of the office-bearer ballots.  The Ordinary General Meeting will follow immediately after the Annual General Meeting, the agenda for which is available on the website.

Ordinary General Meeting: Open Lecture

The President will sketch his seemingly erratic research career—from atomic physics to mathematics to astrophysics—using the metaphor of the random walk, and touching lightly on science and history along the way. Turning back two centuries, he will describe the Society’s significant early involvement in astronomy through its first President, Sir Thomas Brisbane GCB GCH FRS FRSE.

Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan received a PhD in atomic physics from University College London. After a short (and unpromising) year in industry, he joined the University of New South Wales, and is there still. His research career, covering many areas of physics and computational mathematics, has received a number of awards, including the Lyle Medal of the Australian Academy of Science. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a former President of the International Council on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and an Officer of the Order of Australia.


On the Shoulders 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

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.

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