20 December 2005
The Department of Education, Science and Training provides a grant-in-aid to each of the four learned academies and to the National Academy Forum. The grant-in-aid guidelines call for a review of the scheme every five years. For the 2005 review, Minister Brendan Nelson appointed a three-person committee comprising Bruce Alberts (outgoing President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences), John Ralph, AC, FAA (Chair of the Australian Foundation for Science) and John Hay, AC (Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Queensland). The committee met in Canberra on 17-18 September and interviewed representatives from the four academies.
The Minister has now received the review report and has written to say: ‘I was pleased by the Review’s positive report of the performance of the Australian Academy of Science as well as of the Academies more generally. The Government is considering the Review’s recommendations for additional funding in the context of the 2006-2007 Budget.’
In recommending an increase in the annual grant-in-aid to the Academy of Science, the committee of review said: ‘The main purpose of this increase is to allow the Academy of Science to continue and expand its programmes for outstanding early-career scientists.’
Of course, any review will find areas for improvement and the committee commented that the academies should raise the media profile of their work, policies and outcomes.
The committee went on to say: ‘Despite a high volume of work in the public interest, the existence of the learned academies is relatively little known in the general community.’ Council will have the opportunity to discuss this matter, and others raised by the committee, early in the New Year.
We were very pleased to receive a very professional, thoughtful and thorough review report that recommends that the learned academies be adequately resourced.
With best wishes for a happy festive season, Jim
The Academy’s latest Newsletter is available at http://www.science.org.au/newsletters/aas63.pdf.
ACADEMY MEDAL AWARDED TO PROFESSOR MIKE GORE
The Academy’s Council has awarded the Academy Medal to Professor Mike Gore for his dedication to science education and the promotion of science. Through the establishment of Questacon, his vision has brought the excitement and wonder of science to countless children and adults, particularly through Questacon’s outreach programmes that have taken interactive science exhibits to millions of people across Australia. The Medal will be presented to Professor Gore at the Annual General Meeting in 2006.
The Academy Medal recognises outstanding contributions to science by a person outside the Fellowship who has, by sustained efforts in the public domain, significantly advanced the cause of science and technology in Australia or who has made a substantial contribution to the Academy.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2006 ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS
The 2007 Flinders Medal and Lecture for research in the physical sciences:
Professor Peter Hall, FAA, Australian National University
The Craig Medal for research in any branch of chemistry:
Professor Barry Ninham FAA, Australian National University
The Mawson Medal and Lecture for research in the earth sciences:
Dr Kenneth McNamara, Western Australian Museum
The Ian Wark Medal and Lecture for research which contributes to the prosperity of Australia:
Professor Graeme Clark AC, FAA, The Bionic Ear Institute, Melbourne
Junior awards (researchers under 40 years)
The Dorothy Hill Award for research by female scientists in the earth sciences:
Dr Adriana Dutkiewicz, University of Sydney
The Fenner Medal for research in biology (excluding the biomedical sciences):
Dr Barry Brook, Charles Darwin University
The Frederick White Prize for research in the physical, terrestrial or planetary sciences:
Dr James Tickner, CSIRO Minerals
The Gottschalk Medal for research in the medical sciences:
Dr Joel Mackay, University of Sydney
The LeFèvre Memorial Prize for basic research in chemistry:
Dr Michael Sherburn, Australian National University
The Pawsey Medal for research in physics:
Dr Mahananda Dasgupta, Australian National University
The Graeme Caughley Travelling Fellowship supports ecologists to visit scientific centres and to deliver public lectures in countries other than Australia or New Zealand:
Dr David Forsyth, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Melbourne
The Rudi Lemberg Travelling Fellowship supports overseas or Australian scientists to visit scientific centres in Australia and to deliver public lectures:
Professor Jan Vymazal, ENKI o.p.s., Czech Republic
The Selby Fellowship supports overseas scientists to visit scientific centres in Australia and to deliver public lectures:
Professor Godfrey Hewitt, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
The Maxwell Ralph Jacobs Awards supports research in forestry:
Mr Vic Jurkis, Forests NSW
Dr David Forrester, University of Melbourne
The Conservation of Endangered Species Award supports research on endangered Australian vertebrate species:
Dr Peter Banks, University of New South Wales
Project: Wildlife general - protecting prey with chemical camouflage
Dr Meri Oakwood, Envirotek, New South Wales
Project: Monitoring extinction of the Northern quoll
Dr Andrea Phillott, Central Queensland University
Project: Dispersal patterns and swimming behaviour of hatchling Flatback turtles
Ms Jessica van der Waag, University of Western Australia
Project: How to support Malleefowl recruitment in a fragmented landscape
LOCKHART REPORT ON HUMAN CLONING AND EMBRYO RESEARCH LEGISLATION
The Chair of the Academy's National Committee for Medicine, Professor Bob Williamson, welcomed the release of the Lockhart report that reviewed the Human Cloning Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 that was released on 19 December 2005.
‘The Lockhart Committee report should be welcomed by every Australian with a commitment to medical research’, said Professor Williamson. ‘The recommendations will bring Australia into line with the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. We will be able to develop cellular models for common conditions, such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, using somatic cell nuclear transfer, something that is already being achieved in other countries. Because there will be an Australian Stem Cell Bank, we can ensure that the minimum number of embryos are used under strict conditions.’
‘I am particularly pleased that these new and exciting experimental approaches will only be permitted in the context of a strict prohibition on cloning for reproduction. The community wants this guarantee that advanced medical research meets the highest ethical standards. Now that the debate is concluded, I hope that the Government adopts this carefully thought out set of recommendations without further delay.’
The Academy’s submission to the review committee is available online at http://www.science.org.au/reports/25july05.pdf.
SINO-AUSTRALIAN GRASSLAND WORKSHOP
The Academy, with support from AusAID, hosted the Sino-Australian Workshop on the Management of Grassland-Livestock Systems and Combating Land Degradation in Northern China, 6-7 December 2005.
The meeting was opened by the President of the Academy, Jim Peacock, and the Chinese Ambassador to Australia, Madam Fu Ying. The aims of the meeting were to enhance communication and cooperation between Chinese and Australian scientists, provide a forum for identifying and discussing the root causes of grasslands degradation in China, sharing the lessons learned from efforts to fight it, and identify gaps and opportunities for new research and development programs seeking to address the problem.
There were several recommendations at the end of the workshop and team leaders were identified to start working on them. It is expected that a meeting in Beijing in February 2006 will further discuss ways to implement the recommendations.
Connections : linking science with literacy' is an important initiative for primary schools. Developed by the Academy in partnership with the Department of Education, Science and Training, PrimaryConnections promotes teaching science and literacy as complementary subjects to students aged 5–13 years.
Stage 3 of the project commences in 2006 with 100 education professionals gathering at the Shine Dome for a three day intensive workshop. The conference aims to assist representatives from each state and territory to engage with the unique PrimaryConnections teaching and learning model, as well as help them to prepare to train schools interested in using the programme.
The transition between trialling and national roll out will continue in 2006 as the Academy aims to: publish the first set of eight units; develop and trial future unit topics; develop a pre-service teacher education resource pack and continue with our programme of advanced professional learning for teachers. Further information on the project can be found at www.science.org.au/primaryconnections.
The Victorian Fellows held their annual Christmas dinner on 24 November at the Observatory Café in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the original site of the Great Melbourne Telescope. Seventy Fellows and guests were treated to an excellent dinner and a recital by the Tailem Quartet, a string ensemble of the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music.
DIARY DATES 2006
21–26 January. Quantum Nanoscience (a conference in the Sir Mark Oliphant International Frontiers of Science and Technology Conference Series, co-sponsored by the Academy), University of Queensland (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/people/milburn/qnsresearch/QNSConference.htm).
31 March. Deadline for Cooperative Research Centres Programme 2006 Selection Round. Information and guidelines are available at http://www.crc.gov.au.
19–21 April. Mastering the Data Explosion in the Earth and Environmental Sciences (Elizabeth and Frederick White Conference), Shine Dome, Canberra (http://rses.anu.edu.au/cadi/Whiteconference).
26 April. Clunies Ross Award Dinner, Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. For more information contact Cherry Servis by email at mailto:email@example.com or by phoning (03) 9340 1209.
26–28 April. 10th International Symposium on Biochromatography, University of Science and Technology, Lille, France (http://www.univ-lille1.fr/SBCN2006).
3–5 May. Science at the Shine Dome, incorporating the Annual General Meeting.
25–26 May. Urbanism, Environment and Health (2006 Fenner Conference on the Environment), Shine Dome, Canberra. Organised by the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, and co-sponsored by the Academy (http://nceph.anu.edu.au/Fenner2006/index.htm).
COUNCIL MEMBERS (www.science.org.au/fellows/council/)
President, Jim Peacock
phone (02) 6246 5250, fax (02) 6246 4866, firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary (Physical Sciences), Robert Frater
phone (02) 9886 5628, email@example.com
Secretary (Biological Sciences), John Shine
phone (02) 9295 8120, firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary (Science Policy), Philip Kuchel
phone (02) 9351 3709, email@example.com
Secretary (Education and Public Awareness), John McKenzie
phone (03) 8344 6407, firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreign Secretary, Bruce McKellar
phone (03) 8344 5122, email@example.com
Treasurer, Phil McFadden
phone (02) 6249 9612, firstname.lastname@example.org