The Academy was founded on 16 February 1954 by Australian Fellows of the Royal Society of London with the distinguished physicist Sir Mark Oliphant as founding President. It was granted a Royal Charter establishing the Academy as an independent body but with government endorsement.
The Academy's Constitution was modeled on that of the Royal Society of London. It receives government grants towards its activities but has no statutory obligation to government.
Professor Andrew Holmes AM PresAA FRS FTSE
Professor Andrew Holmes is a Laureate Professor of the School of Chemistry at The University of Melbourne. In October 2004 he was appointed ARC Federation Fellow and inaugural VESKI Fellow at the Bio21 Institute at The University of Melbourne and at CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies. Professor Holmes has been recognised for his groundbreaking work on light-emitting polymers. He has also been the recipient of a long list of awards including the Royal Society’s Royal Medal and the Descartes Prize. He was elected to the Academy in 2006 and served as Foreign Secretary from 2010 to 2014. He became President of the Academy in May 2014.
The Academy's objectives
The objectives of the Academy are to promote science through a range of activities. It has defined four major program areas:
- recognition of outstanding contributions to science
- education and public awareness
- science policy
- international relations
Strategic plan: 2010–2015
The vision of the Academy, as Australia’s primary representative of natural and applied science, is:
Excellence in Australian science
The Academy’s mission is:
To champion Australian scientific excellence, to promote and disseminate scientific knowledge, and to provide independent scientific advice, for the benefit of Australia and the world
Promote excellence in scientific research nationally and internationally
- To identify priority areas of research, training and infrastructure support for discipline development in conjunction with the national committees for science
- To provide career development and network building opportunities for young researchers
- To promote support for the best Australian scientific research, including facilitating access to international scientific organisations and programs
- To support the promotion of Australian science capabilities internationally and contribute expertise and leadership in regional and global collaborative networks
Develop and sustain a national scientific culture
- To ensure that the Academy and the fellowship are fully representative of the best scientists in Australia and, through competitive awards, promote community recognition of the contributions of high quality science to health, well-being and national prosperity
- To support the teaching of science at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary), elevate national standards, enhance teacher competencies and encourage students’ consideration of science and technology based careers
- To provide forums for discussion and debate, publications and balanced, expert information on scientific issues of national significance and/or community concern
Provide valued independent scientific advice to assist policy development and program delivery
- To develop networks and alliances with relevant stakeholders to provide conduits for input of insights and expertise on scientific matters
- To provide authoritative advice on matters of research support, education and training, and science application to inform policy development and decision making
- To monitor scientific developments in Australia and overseas to anticipate and communicate potential impediments and opportunities
Coat of arms
Azure a representation of the building of the Australian Academy of Science at Canberra ensigned of a Mullet of seven points Argent on a Canton Argent a representation of the Royal Crown proper And for the Crest On a Wreath of the Colours a demi Swan rousant Sable Ducally gorged Or the wings charged with a conventional representation of the nucleus of an Atom with three Particles in orbit Or as the same are in the margin hereof more plainly depicted. On the dexter side a Kangaroo and on the sinister side a Talbot both proper and Ducally gorged Or as the same are also in the margin hereof more plainly depicted the whole to be borne and used for ever hereafter by the Australian Academy of Science on Seals or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms.
The Academy Council had certain allusions in mind when choosing elements of the arms.
On the shield there are three charges. The seven-pointed silver star represents the Commonwealth of Australia. The representation of the Academy building was used because of its unique and simple design; its use conforms to ancient heraldic practice when it was common for the bearer of arms to include a conventionalised representation of his own castle. The third charge, a royal crown on a silver canton, was included by special permission of The Queen in recognition of the royal foundation of the Academy in 1954 when the Charter was presented by hand of the Sovereign in Canberra.
In the crest biological science is represented by the swan and physical science by the conventional symbol on its wing. Moreover the black swan is uniquely Australian. The use of the ducal coronet might be regarded as a symbol of the Academy’s status.
The dexter supporter is taken from the Australian arms, but with the heraldic ‘differencing’ of the coronet. The sinister supporter is identical with the supporters of the arms of the Royal Society of London and was included, with the permission of the Council of the Society, to signify the close relations of the two bodies and, in particular, the fact that Fellows of the Royal Society resident in Australia made the first moves to establish the Academy.
The secretariat of the Academy is home to a vibrant team of experts including scientists, educators, policy and project managers, and communicators. Led by Chief Executive Dr Sue Meek AO, the staff support Fellows and National Committees for Science to champion scientific excellence, promote and disseminate scientific knowledge, and provide independent scientific advice.