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The Royal Society of New South Wales

The Society is the oldest learned society in the Southern Hemisphere, tracing its origin to the Philosophical Society of Australasia, founded in Sydney in 1821.

Our purpose is to advance knowledge through "... the encouragement of studies and investigations in Science Art Literature and Philosophy".

Membership of the Royal Society of New South Wales is open to anyone interested in Science, Art, Literature or Philosophy and their relationships. For more information, go to About us, visit our Membership Page or download our Brochure.


Forthcoming events

Thursday 20 November 2014

The Liversidge Research Lecture 2014

"Recent Studies on the Total Synthesis of Natural Products and Related Systems"

Professor Martin Banwell

Research School of Chemistry, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University, Canberra

A diverse range of biologically active natural products is being targeted for synthesis in our laboratories. The motivations for undertaking such work are three-fold: (a) to develop structure-activity relationship (SAR) profiles for the relevant class, (b) to develop new synthetic methodologies and (c) sometimes to establish the true structure of the natural product.1 Of course, such pursuits can become all the more fascinating when completely unexpected processes are uncovered. In this presentation, examples of all of these possibilities will be presented.

1. M. G. Banwell, Tetrahedron, 2008, 64, 4669.

Martin BANWELL was born and educated in New Zealand. In 1979 he completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the Victoria University of Wellington where he worked under the supervision of Brian Halton. After a post-Doctoral period with Leo Paquette at the Ohio State University he took up a Senior Teaching Fellowship at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. In 1982 Banwell moved to a Lectureship at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and then to an equivalent position at the University of Melbourne in 1986. He was promoted to a Readership in Organic Chemistry at the same institution in 1993. In 1995 he moved to the Research School of Chemistry (RSC) at the Australian National University as Senior Fellow. In 1999 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry and served as Director of the RSC from the beginning of 2008 until mid-2013.

Professor Banwell's research interests are in the area of synthetic organic chemistry, particularly the development of new methodologies and their application to the total synthesis of biologically active natural products. He is the author or co-author of some three hundred journal articles in this broad area. A particular emphasis has been the exploitation of strained organic compounds and the products of whole-cell biotransformations for such purposes. In recognition of his work, Professor Banwell has received a number of awards including the Rennie and Birch Medals of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. In 2003 he received the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) Award in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and was elected to Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science in the following year.

Time: 5:30 pm for 6:15 pm start. Refreshments served outside the theatre from 5:30 pm

Lecture Theatre 4, School of Chemistry, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney

All welcome. This is a free event.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Jak Kelly Award Presentation, 1228th OGM and Christmas Party

The winner of the Jak Kelly Award will present his or her work to the Society

The Jak Kelly Award winner will be determined at the Australian Institute of Physics Postgraduate awards day on Tuesday 18 November 2014 at the Slade Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, University of Sydney commencing at 2:00 pm. The Award will be presented to the winner on 3 December by Mrs Irene Kelly, widow of Professor Kelly.

All Fellows, Members and friends are encouraged to attend the Society's Christmas Party following the Jak Kelly Award presentation and join in the festivities. A range of hot and cold delicacies will be served, accompanied by suitable refreshments.

Time: 6:15 for 6:30 pm start. No refreshments served prior to the event.

Card Room, 2nd floor, Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street Sydney.

Cost: $35.00 per person.

Please note dress code: jacket and tie.

Booking essential: Book for the Christmas Party after the meeting

The full 2014 programme may be found here

Recent events

Wednesday 5 November 2014

1227th Ordinary General Meeting

"A drop of Optics"

Dr Steve Lee and Dr Tri Phan, joint winners of the 2014 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology

The talk at the 1227th AGM was presented by Dr Steve Lee and Dr Tri Phan, joint winners of the 2014 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology. They received the award for developing a very inexpensive polymer lens with extraordinarily high resolution that can be used on cameras like those found on mobile telephones.

In recent years, miniaturisation has revolutionised sensors: small image sensors means that the optical device can also be miniaturised and it is much easier to get good optical qualities in a small lens than a large one. The early miniaturised lenses were ground from small pieces of glass and were quite expensive to manufacture. (Read more...)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

1226th Ordinary General Meeting

"Australia's most spectacular environmental rehabilitation project: Phillip Island, Pacific Ocean"

Dr Peter Coyne

Perched atop a submerged seamount, in turn atop a submarine ridge, Phillip Island and its close neighbour Norfolk Island are tiny specks, the only land in a vast expanse (2.5 million square kilometres) of the southwest Pacific Ocean. Both islands were created by volcanic activity between 2.8 and 2.2 million years ago. The plateau top of the seamount, 100 x 35 kilometres, is between 30 and 75 metres below present sea level. Sequential ice ages during the last 2 million years exposed the entire plateau, an area about 100 times the size of the present islands. Such an area could have accommodated about four times as many species as the present islands. During the last ice age the entire plateau was exposed for 24,000 years until 13,000 years ago. Sea level 25 metres higher, reached 10,000 years ago, still exposed an island about 35 km long, large enough to accommodate more than double the species count of the present islands and joining these islands with dry land. An island at least this large was exposed for 60,000 years during the last ice age, before the sea reached its present level just 6,000 years ago. (Read more...)


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

1225th Ordinary General Meeting

"The Fourth Dimension and beyond: the paradox of working in unimaginable worlds"

Scientia Professor Ian Sloan AO FRSN

Professor Ian Sloan is not content to work in an environment of four dimensions – he is quite at home in space with many more dimensions than most of us are accustomed to. Many mathematical problems can be considered as problems and multidimensional space – the question is how do we imagine these environments? The dimensions of a space can be considered to be the number of directions that you can go from any single point within it. For example, in our four-dimensional world, from any point we can go in three spacial directions, plus time. If we are in a six-dimensional environment, we can go in six directions from any given point and mathematically we don't need more than six variables to describe this environment. But why would we be interested in multidimensional spaces?

(Read more...)


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

1224th Ordinary General Meeting

"Science: essential education and the role of the Australian Academy of Science"

Emeritus Scientia Professor Eugenie Lumbers AM FAA Dist FRSN

Eugenie LumbersThe world is experiencing an exponential rate of technological progress. Change was relatively gradual from the time and the domestication of the horse until the 17th century. Indeed, in the early stages the Industrial Revolution, industry was still heavily dependent on horse-drawn transport. In 1900, just 14 years after the invention of the motor car, there were still 300,000 horses in service in London. That same year, there were 0.11 cars per thousand people in the US; in 2009 there are 828. This enormous, rapidly accelerating technological change took place as a consequence of science and its application in development of technology. The question is why was such enthusiasm for science in the 1940s and 1950s but this has largely disappeared today in many countries, not the least of which is Australia. This poses a major challenge for Australia – how will we keep up with technological progress when few people are interested in seeking a science or technological education? Despite the apparent interest in science, in a multitude of TV programmes for example, this is actually positioning science as entertainment, not as true science. (Read more...)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

New Fellows cocktail party and 1223rd Ordinary General Meeting

"What causes Multiple Sclerosis?"

Professor Graeme Stewart AM

Professor Graham Stewart AM, director of clinical immunology at Westmead Hospital has researched the genetic influences on disease, in particular on multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is the commonest chronic neurological disorder of young at all. It usually starts with a relapsing/remitting phase (with symptoms occur and then go into remission at for extended periods), usually with onset at about the age of 30. The disease can be relatively benign with periods of disability, it can present as a relapsing/remitting disease with gradual increase in disability, or in about 10-20% of patients it can present as being "primary progressive”, where disability progressively increases over time.

MS is caused by the body's immune system malfunctioning – macrophages devour the myelin sheath around nerve cells, exposing the nerve axon and thereby disrupting the flow of information along the nerve cell. The body is able to repair the damage by re-myelinating the nerve cells after this initial attack however if the myelin is attacked the second time in the same place, the body is unable to repair the sheath and relapse occurs. Hence the symptoms of the disease progress. (Read more...)

Seal of the RSNSW


New Fellows elected

The Society presented testamurs to eleven new Fellows at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 2 July 2014. (more...)

Presentation of Fellowships and the 2013 Awards

The Society's Annual Dinner was held at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 7 May 2014. Eleven fellowships were presented and prizes and medals were formally presented to the 2013 Award winners. (more...)

Walter Burfitt Prize Professor Michelle Simmons, UNSW
James Cook Medal Professor Brien Holden, UNSW
Edgeworth David Medal Associate Professor David Wilson, UNSW
Clarke Medal Professor William Griffin, Macquarie University

Distinguished Fellows Lecture 2014

The Society's Distinguished Fellows lecture was presented by Prof Barry Jones AO Dist FRSN. (more...)

Peter Doherty invested

Prof Peter Doherty AC Dist FRSN was invested by the Governor at Government House on Wed 16 April 2014 (more...)



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