Newsletter January 2024
|Geraldine Hall Memorial Prize
Congratulations to Dr Wendy Laupu who has been awarded the Geraldine Hall Memorial Prize for a paper on “Improving Public Health in Remote Communities”. Wendy will travel to Norfolk Island to deliver a public lecture on Wednesday 1 May, Norfolk Island being the place of residence of the late Geraldine Hall who operated the pharmacy on the Island. David Hall, son of Geraldine Hall, will present the prize.
The chief independent reviewer wrote of “this interesting article”: “I found this to be informative and well-researched. It is also highly relevant to Australia and current challenges facing our healthcare systems”. The chief reviewer made a few editorial suggestions which the author has incorporated in the paper, which is now being considered by the co-editors of the Special Issue 130 of Proceedings of The Royal Society of Queensland on the preconditions of well-being. It will be published online, open access, after acceptance and typesetting. Members will be advised.
The prize-winning paper draws connections between dietary nutrients and well-being, especially mental health.
Members can honour departed relatives or friends, or advance their field of scientific interest, with comparable donations to the Research Fund. The Royal Society of Queensland Research Fund is a registered Charity and Tax-Deductible Gift Recipient ABN 33 120 792 616. Donations of more than $2 are fully tax deductible for Australian taxpayers. A gift in your Will can make a lasting legacy for generations. To discuss please phone Mr James Hansen on 07 32632254.
|Walter Fisher Memorial Prize
Presentations were made on the occasion of the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 9 December by four awardees of the Walter Fisher Memorial Prize, 2 in person, and 2 remotely:
- Dr Kylie Agnew-Francis (from University of Queensland): Understanding the molecular landscape and diversity of Queensland’s native Hericium fungi.
- Dr John Dearnaley (from University of Southern Queensland): Structural characterisation of valuable new antibiotics from Queensland rainforest endophytic microfungi presented by Brooke Raphael.
- Ms Allison Mertin (from University of Melbourne and Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney): Investigating the plant growth promotion potential of native seed fungi to improve native Australian grassland restoration. Presented via USB.
- Dr Rebecca Webb (from University of Melbourne): Even fungi get stressed sometimes: Glutathione and stress tolerance in the amphibian Chytrid. Presented on Teams.
The presentations were wonderfully inspiring. All researchers were obviously putting the funds they have received from the Society and other sources to excellent use. Of particular interest was a finding of antibiotic activity of an extract from native Queensland fungi against candida and staph bacteria. This research will attract global attention if subsequent research confirms the finding.
We welcomed about a dozen visitors including colleagues of the presenters. Presentations will shortly appear on the Society’s website.
There was discussion after the presentations about the huge potential there is for original research into fungi and the lack of reliable funding for research. There was expressed support for a submission and even a public campaign by the Society on behalf of researchers in this field for secure funding. Is there a member who would like to coordinate a funding submission?
Congratulations to Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz, Associate Editor of the Proceedings for Volume 132 and Dr Julien Louys, Editor for bringing another scientist into the world. Justyna has written:
“Julien and I are excited to share the arrival of our baby boy Jude Albert Leon Louys, born on 30 November 2023. We wish you all the best for the New Year!
Justyna, Julien, & Jude (the triple J was unintentional! 😉)”
|Congratulations: Members Achieving
Professor Ian Lowe has been reappointed as a member of the Board of Health and Wellbeing Queensland an arm of Queensland Health charged with driving “systems change that addresses the preventable burden of disease, for a healthier and fairer Queensland”. Professor Lowe has also agreed to be Coordinating Editor for articles produced under the banner of our “Preconditions of well-being” initiative. More on the progress of that in the next Newsletter.
Dr Donnell Davis has been elected to the prestigious position of National President of the United Nations Association of Australia. She has previously been the President of the Queensland chapter. Dr Davis is an excellent networker and regularly brings to attention snippets of information that we post on our QSN website of general science. She has recently drawn to attention the Champions of the Earth honours awarded by the United Nations Environment Programme, https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/
It is an honour to count achievers of this stature as members of the Society’s professional network.
|Annual General Meeting, Special Meeting to Change Constitution and Election of Council for 2024
The Annual General Meeting of the Society was held on Saturday 9 December 2023, at Griffith University Southbank including the election of the new Council for 2024. The meeting was attended by about 13 members. It closed with a short social gathering. We thank member Dr Phillipa England for her assistance in arranging the room for this event.
The following is now the official list of the new Councillors from the AGM for 2024:
- Dr Nelson Quinn, President of The Royal Society of Queensland, 2024
- Dr Joseph McDowall, Treasurer, 2024, Coordinating Editor of the RSQ Proceedings and Web Administrator
- Mr James Hansen, Secretary, 2024
- Colin Lynam, Vice-President (QSN & Knowledge Management) and Councillor, 2024
- Dr Peter Dart, Councillor, 2024
- Dr Ross Hynes, Past President and Councillor, 2024
- Dr Phillipa England, Councillor, 2024
- Mr Andy Grodecki, Councillor, 2024
- Mr Charles Nason, Councillor 2024
- Dr Patricia Dale, Councillor, 2024
- Dr Anne-Marie Smit, Councillor, 2024
We warmly welcome the three new Council members, Patricia Dale, Charles Nason and Anne-Marie Smit who took up their positions on 1 January. A short bio for Charles Nason is appended to this Newsletter.
Office-bearers include Dr Geoff Edwards (Policy and Assistant Webmaster), Pamela Lauder (Administration Coordinator), Gary Hopewell (Facebook) and Alex McDowall (Assistant Webmaster).
The discussion relating to the change of the constitution was held over until a date to be advised.
The minutes of the meeting are attached to this Newsletter.
|David Marlow Writing PrizeSpecial Issue on Planning for Climate Change
Applications for the David Marlow Writing Prize closed on 31 December and are now being assessed. We have extended the deadline, as we knew that some works were near completion. There is no specified deadline for articles for Special Issue 133 on Planning for Climate Change. Anyone who has an original contribution to make in a related field is warmly encouraged to contact the Coordinating Editor, Dr Joseph McDowall on email@example.com .
Our website has the details: https://www.royalsocietyqld.org/proceedings-133/
|Support WelcomeAssociate Editor(s) invited
The Society would like to acknowledge the continued support of Dr Joseph McDowall, our Treasurer who is now a Gold Supporter. Thank you, Joseph, these contributions make a huge difference to our ability to service the membership.
Joseph has also agreed to be the Coordinating Editor of the Proceedings of The Royal Society for 2024. Here is an excellent opportunity for one or more of our younger members to gain experience in editing under the supervision of an experienced mentor without taking on the responsibility for the entire volume. An Associate Editor might for example be asked to handle reviews of just one article, which limits the workload involved, but enlarges that person’s professional network.
An Associate Editor might be invited to canvass their colleagues for potential articles. Assisting someone else bring an idea to life and appear in print is nearly as satisfying as writing an article oneself!
|Vale Prof Peter Leggat
Emeritus Professor Peter Leggat was a member in good standing of the Society and prime organiser of the 2016 workshop at the Cairns Institute on Community Health that initiated its Preconditions of Well-being project. We re-publish this obituary Vale Emeritus Professor Peter Leggat – JCU Australia from the James Cook University website. Prof. Leggat also organised prizes for science students at JCU. The Society is grateful for his service to science, medicine, and public policy through his membership.
Professor Leggat was an advocate of the investment of Fellows by the Society. He didn’t live to see that come to pass, but last year he was informed that the proposal was alive and under consideration by the Council.
|Queensland Science NetworkJoin in the daily discussions on:https://www.linkedin.com/company/queensland-science-network/?viewAsMember=true//
The Queensland Science Network (QSN) LinkedIn social media platform aims to provide “followers” with a current and broad spectrum of scientific, social, Landcare and policy discussions relevant to Queensland. It has nearly 1300 global followers. CHECK IT OUT NOW.
A meeting to review progress and discuss a work program for the QSN was held on Tuesday 28 November. The Queensland Science Network is a collaboration between 26 not-for-profit scientific and naturalists’ societies. Its website is a portal to each group and to general science. It includes a portal into the Queensland STEM Education Network, a compendium of educational materials.
There was a vigorous and valuable discussion over the question of whether QSN might become the “trading name” of the Society in its public policy analyses. The name “Royal” can be a positive, a reminder of the rich Enlightenment tradition of evidence-led enquiry in which the Society stands, in a world awash with misinformation and disinformation. But the term could also be seen as anachronistic in the light of the decline of influence and prestige in Australia of the British monarchy. No conclusion was reached, but it can be said that QSN remains a label for any project that the Society wishes to launch.
QSN is not incorporated, so the Society takes full responsibility for anything done in its name; but QSN is a vehicle by which the entire natural science sector can become involved.
|NLWRA and ACRIS revived
Acting on a prompt from member Paul Sattler, the Society has been able to find a copy of data and analysis produced under these programs, with the assistance of the National Library of Australia. We are partway through the process of uploading them to the website of the Queensland Science Network https://scienceqld.org/2023/11/20/condition-and-trend/ . It is remarkable that such a wealth of information can effectively disappear from public access and the wonderful network of collaborators disbanded. To prepare a submission for reviving these initiatives requires a person with time to dedicate to the necessary research. Contact our Policy Coordinator ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ if you would like to help.
|Volume 132 now in printVolume 134 now open for papers
The Society is very grateful to Assoc. Prof Julien Louys and Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz for their successful fulfilment of the roles of Honorary Editor and Honorary Associate Editors for volumes 129 of 2021, 131 of 2022 and now 132. They have eminently upheld the scholarly standards of the journal and have produced volumes worthy of its 138 year history. The Proceedings of The Royal Society of Queensland for 2023 has now been printed and hard copies are available for purchase. Please contact our Administration Coordinator Pam Lauder email@example.com should you wish to purchase hard copies at $50 (discount for members).
Authors can submit at any time and articles will now be processed for the 2024 edition. We publish scholarly papers in a range of disciplines. Papers on topics in the natural sciences that are significant for Queensland and Queenslanders are particularly welcome. Papers on related topics including the social sciences, managing the natural environment, education, culture, history, philosophy, heritage and policy are equally welcome. We regularly publish research articles, reviews, short communications and outlook papers.
Please note that that all email traffic about membership should go to the .au address – firstname.lastname@example.org
The email address email@example.com is currently not available.
Please contact Dr Joseph McDowall on firstname.lastname@example.org for any membership enquiries.
The Society’s systems are being streamlined to counter spam attacks.
|President’s Closing Remarks
We look forward to a busy year, with commitments on public well-being, climate change and planning, extension of rangelands and new stewardship work, collaboration with the Royal Societies of Australia and our State counterparts, development of the Queensland Science Network and on increasing membership and resources. All very challenging, so we need every member to think about how they can contribute.
I particularly want to thank our new Council members for getting on board.
0428 231 591
Policy Coordinator, on behalf of the President
The Royal Society of Queensland
02 9136 8019 or (+6723) 52150
|Short Bio – Councillor Charles Nason
Born at Roma to a grazing family. Usual rural upbringing, correspondence school until 10 and then to a boarding school.
Degree in Rural Science at UNE with a post grad diploma of agricultural economics. Employed by Qld Dept of Agric for 5 years on a project in S Qld looking at future research priorities. Overseas travel for 2 years thru about 50 countries.
I “went home” to take over the family farm and have passed it on to my 2 sons and now been retired in Brisbane for 2 years and completed a post grad diploma in environmental management at UQ.
I have served on several agricultural R&D committees wrt grain and beef cattle.
Interests , reflections and concerns: (for your info to reflect my background and beliefs).
I was able to attend university on a Commonwealth scholarship and realise in hindsight that most if not all of my classmates were there because of various scholarships and cadetships. Without such public investment , I believe Australian agriculture would not be where it is today. I believe I experienced the ‘golden age’ of agriculture where production was prioritised and public funding was generous. A few brave souls looked to the future and asked about the potential environmental impacts such as land clearing.
I see the Charleville Pastoral Laboratory project as a thoughtful project on the basis of you can not manage what you do not understand. Our Qld Agric Dept project recommended that the CPL model be extended to understanding the box-sandalwood community but by then public funding for agriculture production was being wound down. I have seen a significant depopulation in the bush and suggest economic efficiency does not lead to social efficiency. I also see a growing rural and urban gap which is also echoed around the world. With a highly urbanised population, I wonder if Australia really understands its landscape.
I found UQ interesting . There seems a realisation that a “people free” landscape is not regarded as natural, and fire created the traditional landscape the early European inhabitants observed. I am concerned that current policy sees the indigenous people as holding much traditional knowledge. I believe much has been lost and this gap may be filled by stuff made up and we may not know the difference. Further the appointed indigenous spokespeople are probably not those with the remaining knowledge.
I feel the present population takes our standard of living for granted without understanding how privileged we are. I suggest that continual growth is not sustainable and we are a “throw away” society as well. Mining, for all of its issues, provides about 2/3 of our export income . Any disruption to this will have significant impacts on the economy and our current lifestyles. We export most of our agricultural production yet import most of the inputs including the scientific expertise.
The presentations by the fungi researchers poses some serious questions. The current situation of significant concern around resistance to antibiotics of which many come from fungi is not reflected in their minute R&D investment, Why? There was a period when the triple bottom line and M&E ( monitoring and evaluation ) were incorporated in most agricultural research projects. These inclusions have largely disappeared. Monitoring is long term and not very ‘sexy’ and is not compatible with the short term project funding culture.
I see a lack of vision for our landscape with little discussion of how to balance production and conservation.