The Royal Society of Victoria convenes Victoria’s science community. It is the State’s oldest learned society and a part of Australia’s intellectual life since 1854. Located in a heritage-listed building at 8 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, the Society provides a dynamic program of lectures, symposia and forums about science.

Membership is open to anyone interested in science, its history and supporting its promotion for the benefit of the community.

Through the RSV Science Foundation, the Society supports community outreach and scientific research through an awards program, recognising lifetime achievements and encouraging early career progression of Victorian scientists through a suite of special honours and prizes.

Free public lectures on compelling topics across the disciplines are held on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. See our upcoming lectures featured on this page, or view the full year’s program of lectures here. While attendance is free, numbers are limited and we recommend booking your place; details are available on each event’s page.

Recent Updates

Genetic Rescue


- You may not know it, but Australia is facing an extinction crisis. With the worst rate of mammalian extinction in the world, over 1,700 species of animals and plants are currently at risk of becoming extinct in Australia. The future of biodiversity conservation relies on multiple factors, including removing native animals from the dangers of introduced predators, changing the culture of clearing land, and having support of the government, conservationists, and society as a whole. These changes would help populations to recover, however when the gene pool of a species has bottlenecked so much, even if the population size increases, their genetic health will remain poor. To avoid the current health problems such as all koalas having chlamydia and Tasmanian devils having infectious facial tumours, genetic rescue is potentially the solution. With Dr Weeks and his colleagues leading the way, endangered and threatened Australian flora and fauna will hopefully flourish once again.

A Silver Medallist – London Design Awards


- Our warmest congratulations to our partners Decibel Architecture for taking out a silver medal at the London Design Awards for their conceptual work on “Magic” as a “for-purpose” project! “Importantly, this project is not a development play, but a community-driven, purpose project. The plans predict a $30million profit from apartment sales which will be used to upgrade RSV's heritage-listed home on the neighbouring site, develop a new science engagement centre and cafe, and create a perpetual endowment fund, enabling the RSV’s purpose, projects and awards programs to be supercharged for the next 160 years.” “The residential tower will also double as a science engagement precinct and will demonstrate ingenuity, striving for PassivHaus standard and cutting-edge sustainable technologies.” The London Design Awards are convened to “accelerate transformation, celebrate courage and grow demand for design.”
RSV Research Medal

Professors Anthony Burkitt and Jamie Rossjohn are the 2018 RSV Medallists for Research Excellence


- RSV President David Zerman emphasises the Medal is not just about discovery and innovation, but also about fostering and supporting a thriving research community and workforce to achieve collective impact. "Some of this is demonstrated through a scholar's personal output of journal articles and the related citations, or through patents and commercialisation, but it is also the research ecosystem that a leader supports through mentorship, collaboration and public engagement. We look very favourably on research leaders who bring effective teams together, and who actively promote younger scientists in particular, either through direct supervision, co-authorship of major papers, or simply creating opportunities for meaningful, purposeful work in an intensely competitive job market."
partners

A Magic Partnership Begins


- On 8 October, a group of about 16 people, including the Society’s Councillors, the senior team from Grocon and the leaders of Decibel Architecture, convened in the historic Burke & Wills Room to sign a Heads of Agreement, setting out the scope of our collaboration for our proposed Magic Project. In this place of deep significance to Victoria’s rich history of scientific endeavour, we took a major step on the path to realising a future vision for Victoria’s scientific capabilities. In exploring the boundaries of what we can achieve on our small, CBD site, we embark on a new expedition; to be well planned, and with the appropriate expertise in the mix to lead us through as a community of members and supporters. This is substantially new work in the development sector, and will require a translational research approach – the opportunities for involvement by some of Victoria’s outstanding scholars in the broad field of sustainable urban development are plain to see.

Is Victoria’s Liveability Resilient to Extreme Weather?


- Imagine sweltering through four days of 40°C – 50°C temperatures. Or not being able to get home because flooding has disrupted rail and road networks. With the changing global climate, such scenarios are possible within the next 20 years. The question is: will Victoria be resilient to these challenges? This is the problem senior government officials and researchers gathered together to answer. RSV’s inaugural Future Thinking Forum saw representatives from over 35 agencies, including universities and government, meet to discuss Victoria’s capacity to cope with extreme weather. The proceedings began with the description of two possible extreme weather scenarios: a severe heatwave and an extreme flooding and wind event. These scenarios were not one of a distant future, nor were they from a dystopian, Eco-Disaster novel. They could be Victoria’s reality within the next two decades.
The amygdala is the first respondent to perceived racial differences

The Neuroscience of Racism: Science and Stories


- People often say that we are not born racist, however the truth is actually more complicated: new-born infants exhibit no preference for faces of various ethnic groups, however from the age of 3 months, infants begin to take longer to scan faces - indicating that they are thinking more about appearances - and exhibit a preference for faces of their parents’ (and own) ethnic group(s).  These findings imply that while we may not be born racist, our perceptions of ethnic differences are learned during early development as a result of exposure to own- versus other-race faces. In this reflective piece, Catriona Nguyen-Robertson considers the neuroscience of racism as presented to the Society by Dr Larry Sherman, drawing parallels to her own experience as an Australian with a mixed heritage of Vietnamese and Scottish parentage.