National Committees

Antarctic Research

Professor Steven Chown, recipient of the Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research.

Professor Kurt Lambeck FAA, Professor Steven Chown, member of the National Committee for Antarctic Research, and Dr Tony Worby, CEO of the Anatarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC, represented the Academy at the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into Australia’s future activities and responsibilities in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters, in September 2014. Read the Academy’s submission to the 20 year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan

Professor Chown was awarded the Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research at the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) Open Science Conference, held in Auckland during August.

Two members of the committee are lead authors of the outcomes of the 1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan, which were published online in August 2014 as a comment in Nature, entitled ‘Six priorities for Antarctic science’. The committee made a submission to the Horizon Scan in late 2013.

More information on the National Committee for Antarctic Research


Triennial Congress and General Assembly

The major international event during the International Year of Crystallography was the triennial International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) Congress and General Assembly held in August in Montreal, Canada. Australia was represented at each of the sessions of the General Assembly by National Committee for Crystallography members Professor Alice Vrielink, University of Western Australia, Professor Brendan Kennedy, University of Sydney and Dr Richard Garrett, ANSTO. Professor Stuart Batten, Monash University, also attended.

Australia was well represented in the election of members of the Commissions of the Union with 3 of 20 commission chairs and members or consultants on most other commissions. Professor Jill Trewhella, University of Sydney, Professor Batten and Dr Garrett will chair the commissions on Small Angle Scattering, Structural Chemistry, and Synchrotron and XFEL Radiation respectively.

The General Assembly confirmed that the next meetings will be held in Hyderabad, India in 2017 and in Prague, Czech Republic in 2020.

More information on the Congress and General Assembly

Crystallography photo exhibition

Romanesco broccoli, an image from the Crystallography in everyday life travelling photo exhibition. The exhibition is at Questacon in Canberra until early January. Photographer: Graziano Lolli (Italy) Rights: © / Graziano Lolli /Used with permission of the International Union of Crystallography

Australian crystallographer wins 2014 CODATA Prize

CODATA—the International Council for Science’s Committee on Data for Science and Technology—recently announced that the 2014 CODATA Prize has been awarded to Professor Sydney Hall, an internationally renowned crystallographer and Emeritus Professor at the University of Western Australia. The prize acknowledges outstanding achievement in the world of scientific and technical data, and it is particularly fitting that a crystallographer should be so recognised during the International Year of Crystallography.

Professor Sydney Hall receives his award from CODATA Secretary General Dr Sara Graves. Image courtesy Anne Hall

In his role during the 1990s as Editor of Acta Crystallographica Section C: Crystal Structure Communications, Professor Hall devised a universal self-defining text archive and retrieval (STAR) file format that evolved into the Crystallographic Information Framework (CIF), a data and publications standard. The CIF standard has been widely adopted by journals publishing crystal structure results, to enable data validation. It also provides the core data model for widely used databases such as the Cambridge Structural Database and the Protein Data Bank and is being applied to such diverse applications as botanical taxonomy, quantum chemistry, chemical informatics and biographical databases. Professor Hall’s efforts have reached beyond crystallographic data and into many other science disciplines.

Professor Hall received the Prize at SciDataCon 2014, the International Conference on Data Sharing and Integration for Global Sustainability, in New Delhi during November.

More information on the National Committee for Crystallography

Brain and Mind

National Committee for Brain and Mind: L to R Professor Jason Mattingley, Professor Anthony Hannan, Associate Professor Steve Petrou, Dr Sabine Hammond, Professor Max Coltheart FAA, Emeritus Professor Brian Byrne, Emeritus Professor Pat Michie (Chair), Professor John Sutton, Professor Michael Ibbotson, Professor David Badcock (Deputy Chair)

The National Committee of Brain and Mind is advancing the development of a web site of Brain and Mind research and resources in Australia. It has also committed to developing the first Decadal Plan of Brain and Mind Science, with submissions to be sought in 2015.

More information on the National Committee for Brain and Mind

Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

A key action for the first five years of the recently completed Ecosystem Science Long Term Plan is to form an Ecosystem Science Council to offer leadership to implement the plan. Throughout October and November 2014 a special reference group worked with the steering committee for the plan to design a structure for the new council and implement a recruitment process.

More information on the National Committee for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

Mathematical Sciences

The National Committee for Mathematical Sciences is progressing with the development of the Decadal Plan for the Mathematical Sciences.

An Australian delegation attended the 17th General Assembly of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), in August in Korea, and made a report on the meeting. The Foreign Secretary, Professor Cheryl Praeger FAA also attended the meeting as a member of the IMU Executive. Professor Praeger is Vice President of the IMU International Commission on Mathematical Instruction until 2016.

Professor Nalini Joshi is involved in a new international women in maths website and several other Australians also played key roles in the meeting as outlined in the report.

More information on the National Committee for Mathematical Sciences


The National Committee for Nutrition is focusing on translational research and training programs for nutritionists and nutrition researchers, including in leadership.

The committee and the Nutrition Society of Australia co-sponsored early- to mid-career researcher Dr Amelia Cook to attend an international leadership course, iYouLead 2014: International Young Food And Nutrition Leadership in August. Held in four Indonesian cities and organised by the Food and Nutrition Society of Indonesia in collaboration with Indonesian Food Technologists Association, the theme was ‘Strengthening Youth Capacity for Future Global Leadership on Nutrition, Food and Health’.

More information on the National Committee for Nutrition


Australian becomes President of the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics

Professor Bruce McKellar AC FAA became President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) at the General Assembly in Singapore, 5–7 November, 2014. Professor McKellar was elected President-Designate at the IUPAP General Assembly in London in 2011. He is the first Australian President of this leading international physics organisation—and its first President from the southern hemisphere.

IUPAP was formed in 1922 to represent physics internationally. Australia became a member in 1925. The mission of the Union is to assist in the worldwide development of physics, to foster international cooperation in physics, and to help in the application of physics toward solving problems of concern to humanity.

More information about IUPAP

General Assembly of the International Council for Science

The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-government organisation with a global membership of national scientific bodies and international science unions. It plans and coordinates research to address major issues of relevance to science and society. The Academy is responsible for Australia’s representation on ICSU.

The 31st General Assembly (GA) of ICSU took place in Auckland on 31 August – 3 September 2014. Academy Foreign Secretary Professor Cheryl Praeger FAA attended the meeting as the voting delegate for Australia.

The Academy welcomed the re-election Professor David Black AO as the Council’s Secretary General, his second term in the position after having served as its leader since 2011. Australian Professor John Buckeridge was elected to the ICSU Executive Board as an Ordinary Member.

Academy President, Professor Andrew Holmes FAA, presented the findings of a one-year external review of ICSU, undertaken by a panel appointed by the ICSU Executive Board, which included Professor Holmes. The review was Chaired by Sir Peter Knight. Read the findings of the review

A Science Advice for Governments meeting was held prior to the GA on 28–29 August. The meeting involved senior scientists, official, science advisors, experts and scholars, and focused on opportunities, challenges and best practices on national science policy processes. The meeting was attended by more than 200 participants from over 40 countries, including Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC FTSE, Professor Michael Barber FAA FTSE and the Academy’s Chief Executive Dr Sue Meek AO FTSE. The summit ended with the agreement to develop a formal network supported by an expanded organising committee.

More information on ICSU

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