We are delighted to see a mix of the new and familiar from our late 2020 call for nominations for members of our governing Council. As none of the available positions were contested, our Returning Officer (Dr William Birch AM MRSV) has declared the these RSV members elected to these roles for a two year period, commencing from the next Annual General Meeting (set for May 2021). Our thanks to these members for their willingness to lead the Society and shape its future; we wish everyone every success during their tenure. Current Officers and Councillors of the Society will continue in their roles until they variously expire at the Annual General Meetings set for 2021 and 2022, including our incumbent President David Zerman, who will continue on the leadership team as our Immediate Past President following the May AGM.
I am delighted to advise the RSV Council Meeting of 27 February, 2020 unanimously agreed to appoint four leaders in the Victorian science community as Fellows of the Royal Society of Victoria.
Being elected a Fellow is the highest membership honour the Society can bestow on a person and entitles the Fellow to use of the postnominals ‘FRSV.’ Our four new Fellows will be formally inducted as part of the Society’s Annual General Meeting program which will be held on Thursday 14 May between 5 and 8pm. Members, please mark this event in your diary. You will receive an invitation with full details, including an address by Professor Marilyn Renfree AO, in late March.
On behalf of your Council, please join me in congratulating our four new Fellows.
The contribution of Dr David Maughan Churchill to the life and leadership of our Society has been significant, not just as one of our four Trustees, but also as our President from 1983 to 1984. David’s election was a meaningful moment in our long succession of science community leaders, as his corresponding tenure as the Government Botanist of Victoria and Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) recalled the role and contribution of our first (Royal) President, Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller, in 1859, and perpetuated the long relationship between the RBG’s scientific leadership and the RSV.
After noticing the presence of both brush-tailed and ring-tailed possums foraging around and damaging the plants in her backyard, zoologist and keen gardener Professor Lynne Selwood came up with the idea to develop a substance that could preserve and protect her beloved plants from browsers, i.e., animal species that use trees for their habitat and something that was readily accessible for all to use. During the first five years, she conducted a series of independent experiments, choosing particular plants from her garden that were inedible to possums.
The Society’s first female member, Helen Harriet Neild (1859 – 1907) was registered as a Member of the Royal Society of Victoria on 10th October, 1889. The second child and eldest daughter of eleven siblings in the Neild household, Nellie had been brought up as a young society woman, notably singing at the Shakespeare Society’s musical gatherings in the late 1880s. She had attended the University of Melbourne to attain a science degree, which in those early years was offered as a Bachelor of Arts under Sir Frederick McCoy’s guidance. She is identified by Dr Allan Madsley as a zoologist.