Five near extinguishments of life on Earth have been related to changes in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Extra-terrestrial meteorites are often blamed, but Earth’s own forces may be suspect. Heat within the Earth builds volcanoes. Even small volcanic eruptions have local, regional and global climate effects. Giant lava fields coincide with the three most recent mass extinction events. Scaling up impacts from small eruptions to such voluminous eruptions indicates that volcanism is a major contributor to climatic disruption, with dire consequences for life.
Dr Karin Orth lectures in Earth Sciences at the University of Tasmania. After a primary degree at Monash University and working for the Victorian Geological Survey, she gained her PhD in Tasmania. She has worked on ancient volcanic rocks in various regions across Australia, most recently on a very large field of ancient volcanic rocks that stretch across the Kimberley of northern Western Australia.
All are welcome, free lecture.
In the past decade the field of astronomy has been building towards a revolution in the way we measure distances and other fundamental physical properties of the stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The rapid increase in detector sensitivity and computing power in the 21st century has enabled both ground-based and space-based astronomy missions to survey enormous areas of the sky with unprecedented precision in the astrophysical parameters.
Andrew will discuss some of the most significant recent developments to come out of this “big data” revolution, which range from improved knowledge of the frequency and masses of planets around nearby stars, the distribution of luminous and dark matter in the Milky Way, and the forensics of working out how the galaxy itself was assembled by infalling matter over billions of years.
Dr Andrew Cole is Associate Professor in Physics and Astronomy and the Director of the Greenhill Observatory, the home of UTAS optical astronomy research infrastructure. Dr Cole studies the processes and effects that govern the evolution of matter in the Universe from the Big Bang to the present day. Essentially, how things came to be from the beginning of time as we know it. Along with many who came before him and undoubtedly many to follow, he is driven by an innate curiosity, stubbornness and a sense of adventure. Dr Cole uses the UTAS 1.3-metre Harlingten telescope to search for exoplanets around stars in the direction towards the centre of the Milky Way by analysis of gravitational microlensing light curves.
The R. M. Johnston Memorial Medal for 2016
Prof David Green FRS
Born and educated in Tasmania, David Green is internationally recognised as a leader in experimental igneous petrology. He held the Chair of Geology from 1977 to 1994 and was Director of the Research School of Earth Sciences at ANU from 1994 to 2001. Collaborating with A. E. Ringwood he brought research in the geo-sciences a major step forward by combining high-pressure and also high-temperature equipment with the electron microscope. Prof Green had insights based on new research that led to a major study (and paper) on the genesis of basaltic magmas. This alone has been cited and used for further work by others at least 1300 times.
David has been adept at selecting significant petrological observations and hypotheses and then devising experimental strategies to investigate further. The widest range of topics has flowed including – mineral assemblages of peridotites at high pressures; the reasons for compositional variability of basaltic magmas including the rôles of carbon and hydrogen; as well as the origins of and relationships among luna basalts, and the nature of the lunar interior.
Prof Green, throughout his career has built co-operative research teams applying complementary approaches to diverse problems related to the petrology and geochemistry of natural rocks. Since returning to Tasmania he has been instrumental in the establishment of institutions particularly the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies which has achieved international acclaim and influence. It is an honour for The Royal Society of Tasmania to offer acknowledgment to David Green’s scholarship with the R. M. Johnston Memorial Medal.
The Clive Lord Memorial Medal for 2016
Prof Henry Reynolds
Clive Lord had a deep interest in Tasmanian history including the place of the aboriginal identity. Henry Reynolds is a fitting person to be recognised by The Royal Society of Tasmania as he has a distinguished academic and personal background that unites these subjects. Indeed Henry has frequently researched and presented history from an Aboriginal perspective. Henry was educated in Tasmania, then a teacher in schools in Australia and England. He established the Australian History program at the Townsville University College where through meticulous research he initiated a focus on frontier conflict in Australia between settlers and indigenous people. This theme is of central importance to the history of Tasmania. In numerous academic articles and books, Prof Reynolds has explained the high level of violence and conflict involved in the colonisation of Australia, and the Aboriginal resistance as evidenced in numerous massacres of the indigenous people.
Henry was on friendly terms with Eddie Mabo and related his “chats” with Eddie in his writing. Later Henry encouraged Eddie to take the matter of land ownership to court. Henry has remained dedicated to justice and human rights. He was elected as a National ‘Living Treasure’ in 1998 – one of just 100! He has written the “History of Tasmania” which brings together the main themes in the island’s history and interprets them in an engaging and accessible way. His writing explores Tasmania’s uniqueness as an island, long isolated from the mainland of Australia. He documented the first extraordinary encounters between European explorers and Tasmanian Aborigines, conveying as far as possible the Tasmanians’ views of the strangers – including how they observed the white men! His research and writing has also considered the Black War of the 1820’s and the convict system and its legacy.
Prof Reynolds is no stranger to criticism from other historians and writers but is himself meticulous in basing his work on a vast resource of evidence readily available in archives and recorded during the actual ‘frontier’ times.
In his book ‘A History of Tasmania’ Prof Reynolds reminds us how the past lives on, and how this is especially so in Tasmania. Henry Reynolds has brought forward a compelling story for all of us and is a most fitting recipient of the 2016 Clive Lord Memorial Medal of The Royal Society of Tasmania.
The Royal Society of Tasmania Annual Doctoral Awards for 2016
In 2016 we had 26 quality nominations for these awards. Each nominee was worthy. The purpose of the awards is for the Society to offer external recognition to recent graduates who have shown genuine distinction and mature promise in their chosen field. Both awardees clearly show that strength at this stage of their career. The award winners were, in alphabetical order:
(a) Dr Aliaa Shallan
Aliaa’s first significant study was the first to demonstrate control over the size of fractures formed during dielectic breakdown of plastic. Her research has focused around developing a microfluidic device for drugs in fluids. A major segment of this centres around making nanochannels in microchips by dielectric breakdown – in effect a “lab on a chip” system. An electrokinetic trap has indeed been made and is the first non-sensor system to analyse drugs in body fluids. Dr Shallan’s work is recognised widely and being applied globally.
(b) Dr Jane Younger
Dr Younger’s research has made a significant contribution already to the field of Antarctic ecology, specifically with respect to how ice-dependent penguins and seals are likely to respond to climate change. In summary, Jane’s very practical work studied palaeological changes in populations of Antarctic ice-dependent predators and their environmental drivers. Her work also filled in gaps in scientific knowledge essential to the future of penguins and seals, for instance. The data sets produced by Jane are contributing dramatically both to the fields of ecology and evolution. In addition Dr Younger’s results, having been reported directly to the Australian Government, will contribute to this nation’s conservation and management policies for Antarctica.
2017 Doctoral Award
Dr Lavenia Ratnarajah
Dr Ratnarajah’s research focussed on the effects of natural iron fertilization by baleen whales and Antarctic krill on the Southern Ocean carbon cycle.
Dr Ratnarajah’s dissertation demonstrated that Antarctic krill acts as an efficient reservoir of Fe, with much of the consumed Fe being stored in the digestive organs and not incorporated into the muscle. Baleen whales then recycle the Fe stored in Antarctic krill through their diet and subsequent defecation. Although whale faecal material consists mostly of particulate Fe, the concentration of dissolved Fe in whale faecal material is comparable to marine ice and continental ice, but considerably higher than other sources in the region. This suggests that baleen whales could play an important role in recycling Fe to HNLC regions of the Southern Ocean.
2017 M.R. Banks Medal
Prof Michael C Breadmore
Professor Breadmore is an outstanding scientist and scholar having been awarded three consecutive fellowships from the Australian Research Council and in August 2017 was awarded with a DSc by the University of Tasmania. He is also a proud Tasmanian who has made the deliberate decision to work in Tasmania for the majority of his career to date. His current work in the use of low cost additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing) for the production of new analytical devices is internationally recognized as leading new directions in the analytical sciences.
2017 The Royal Society of Tasmania medal
Distinguished Prof Ross R Large
Dr Klocker will talk about the 2016, 2017, and 2018 caving and cave diving expeditions he led to Sistema Huautla, one of the world’s deepest cave systems located in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The goal of the expeditions is to connect Sistema Huautla with its outlet in the remote Santo Domingo Canyon about 10 kilometers from its entrance. The successful connection of Sistema Huautla with its outlet would result in the world’s deepest and most spectacular cave traverse.
Dr Klocker will focus in particular on the March 2018 expedition which promises to be one of the most ambitious and challenging cave diving projects ever attempted as the divers attempt to surpass the previous limit of exploration, some five kilometers underground, reached in 1984 when logistical challenges halted progress.
Dr Klocker, originally from Austria, completed a diploma in marine environmental science in Germany, and moved to Hobart to work as honorary research fellow at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC. He undertook a PhD as part of the UTAS-CSIRO joint PhD program in Quantitative Marine Science, followed by a postdoctoral position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he worked on ocean turbulence in the Southern Ocean. He returned to Australia as a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate System Science and the Australian National University. Dr Klocker was then awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies continuing his specialist work on ocean turbulence.
Dr Klocker got hooked by caving in 2008 while doing his PhD, and soon after combined his caving and diving addiction to become a cave diver in 2011. In Australia his main focus has been on cave exploration in the Junee-Florentine in Tasmania, an area known for Australia’s deepest cave systems, remote sumps and huge exploration potential. In the last couple years he also turned his attention towards major cave systems in Mexico, in particular Sistema Huautla, where he enjoys the challenge of combining deep ‘dry’ caving and challenging cave diving in one of the world’s most amazing cave systems.
The primary function of Launceston’s Government Cottage was accommodation for the Lieutenant-Governor and other high-ranking officials either visiting or living in the town. However during the years the Franklins were resident in Van Diemen’s Land their penchant for the sciences added another facet to the complexity of its story. Lynette will reveal how the building was utilised to promote the study of the natural world that gave impetus to scientific endeavours in the north including the establishment of the Launceston Horticultural Society and the consolidation of the Royal Society.
Lynette Ross has worked in the fields of history and archaeology since the late 1980s. Her career includes positions at UTAS, at Port Arthur as Heritage Officer and working as a private contractor. In the late 1990s she was engaged by the Launceston City Council to compile a history of the Government Cottage that used to lie in the north eastern part of what is now City Park. The book on the subject is being readied for publication and this lecture is based on one of its chapters.
GENEROUSLY SUPPORTS THE PRESENTATION OF THIS LECTURE
There is a growing recognition of climate-related financial risk and legal liability for government and businesses. Increasing stakeholder demand for disclosure of climate change risks and opportunities, and a legal liability risk associated with failing to incorporate climate change in decision making are key drivers for change. Technology is also a major impetus for change with transformation in the transport sector representing a significant opportunity for Tasmania. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2016 rated failure of climate change adaptation and mitigation as the most impactful risk to the global economy over the next decade. This talk will explore what’s changed in climate change.
Sophie Muller is the Director of the Tasmanian Climate Change Office in the Department of Premier and Cabinet. She leads the Tasmanian Government response to climate change including policy and projects focusing on addressing the State’s emissions, the transition to a low carbon economy and responding to the impacts of climate change through adaptation. Sophie is a graduate of the University of Tasmania with a Master of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts. She has worked in the climate change field for the past five years and has held roles across government in tourism, health and education. Sophie is passionate about driving change in complex public policy areas to achieve positive outcomes for the Tasmanian community.
Lecture at 8 pm Royal Society Room, TMAG Customs House building. Enter through Dunn Place car park and look for the RST banners at the entrance.
Honours, Awards and Bursaries Committee
Our Society now has the opportunity to offer up to three or four bursaries per year for Tasmanian students who have been selected to attend an overseas science, engineering or mathematics peak activity having attended a similar one in Australia. The amount of each bursary will be in the order of $1000.
We have always supported the youth in the Tasmanian community and this bursary scheme is a further step.
Typically a Tasmanian student at the end of Grade 11 may be chosen to attend a ‘summer school’ in one of the sciences or a combination, such as “The National Youth Science Forum” or “The Australian Mathematics Olympiad”. Following those events, a handful are recommended or chosen to represent Australia and attend an international equivalent. It is those youngsters that we wish to assist. In the past we actually have helped a number, but a recent announcement to several peak organisations brings the name and status of the Royal Society to the forefront in the school communities.
The Royal Society of Tasmania is offering financial support for Tasmanian students selected to attend international events in science, mathematics or engineering.
Applicants will be encouraged to forward one or two pages to the Society about their experience at the specific summer school (or similar) and aspirations of further study or even work choices.
In addition, a copy of the official invitation to attend the overseas science/mathematics event is essential. To support the application the appropriate teacher at school needs to write a supportive letter.
Dr John G. Thorne AM
10th April: M.R. Banks medal winner Prof Michael Breadmore: Chemical answers now – safer food, water and environment through chemistry on a chip
1st May: Ms Sophie Muller Director of the Tasmanian Climate Change Office in the Department of Premier and Cabinet – Putting the change in climate change
5th June: Dr Andreas Klocker – Sistema Huautla, Cave diving for science in one of the world’s most spectacular deep caves
3rd July: Joint Astronomy lecture
9th August: Margaret MacMillan, the noted Canadian historian of WW1, in Hobart as part of a short National speaking tour
4th September: A.Prof Arko Lucieer
2nd October: Postgraduate night
14th November: Susannah Fullerton OAM FRS (N), President of the Jane Austen Society – And so to bed … The Diary of Samuel Pepys
4th December: UTAS Vice Chancellor Prof. Rufus Black for Christmas Lecture and dinner.