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 following RSV members elected to the following roles for a two year period, commencing from the next Annual General Meeting (set for May 2021):
President: Mr Robert Gell AM FRGS FEIANZ MRSV
Having joined the Royal Society of Victoria’s Council in 2019, I have enjoyed the opportunity to subsequently join the Executive and become Vice-President. I am now very honoured to have been nominated to become President.
I continue to believe it is now time for the Royal Society of Victoria to step out, and up. The ‘One Victoria’ proposition is in full-swing; 2021 will be a critical year in taking that proposal forward as an opportunity to establish Melbourne and Victoria as the science capital of the country. In parallel, the Society faces a critical period until that project bears fruit.
I wish to begin a series of programs that will move the Society away from being an unviable membership organisation to a profitable one, (re)built on the pillars of our ability to be independent science translators, connecting and appealing to the community to support science as a transformative agent for the 21st century. This will require a number of changes within the organisation, including to its governance structure. Victoria needs a voice that our community can draw on to provide independent, scientific information, correction where required and strategic advice if consulted.
Vice-President: Dr Catherine de Burgh Day MRSV
I have had the honour of serving as a Councillor of the Royal Society of Victoria for almost 3 years. I have passionately engaged with the opportunities and responsibilities of being on the Council and have gained a good understanding of how the Society functions. I believe that The Royal Society of Victoria is at a turning point, and needs to adapt to face the challenges of the future. We must become a modern Society in which a lean, diverse and engaged Council has responsibility for providing strategic oversight and long-term vision, leaving the day-to-day running of the Society to our excellent staff. In the last few years we have exploded into the public eye thanks to their amazing efforts, and we need to do whatever we can to enable this work to continue.
I believe it is time for the next generation to step up and take the lead. I will proudly represent the Society, support our members and staff, and work with the President and Council to steer us into a bright future.
Honorary Treasurer: Mr Siddharth Verma MRSV
My background in business, entrepreneurship and community building helps bring a practical and real-world business approach to the promotion and learning of STEM in Australia.
I am a BEng (Civil) and MBA (master in Marketing). My work at BrainSTEM (a nonprofit that I founded), includes STEM Mentoring and Design Thinking programs for high-school students.
The lack of diversity and equity in STEM continues to trouble me. As a STEM Outreach Committee Member at the RSV, I help in promoting and supporting STEM outreach programs throughout Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria. I am a committee member of the VicHealth Staying On-Track youth mentoring program aimed at improving mental health, employability and life skills of young Australians.
Starting my own business taught me to take risks, build resilience and sharpen my business skills. Running a community of 2000+ entrepreneurs has provided life lessons in collaboration, communication and inspiring people toward a common goal. I believe that my qualifications and experience will help me in my role as the Honorary Treasurer to meaningfully contribute to the work that the RSV Is doing and help support its effort in the promotion of science.
Councillor: Associate Professor Robert Day MRSV
In my current term as a Councillor, I have focused on the ways that the Royal Society can contribute to scientific advice for government and the community. I am on the RSV Policy Committee, where I have helped draft policy on forest management and other issues. I have contributed to advisory workshops on emergency responses to climate events and climate change adaptation for the State Government, and provided input to the Draft Marine and Coastal Policy. I am now the representative of the RSV on the Stakeholder Technical Advisory Group to the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability.
As I will retire from Melbourne University in 2021, if re-elected I plan to expand and devote more time to this role in the RSV and also contribute more to engagement: bringing science to the Victorian community, particularly in relation to the possibilities for climate change action and adaptation by individuals and community groups.
Councillor: Dr Viktor Perunicic MRSV
Dear fellow RSV members and friends,
I miss seeing you in person. For those who joined us recently, I’m a current RSV Council member, a physicist working in the quantum computing industry. My academic background is in applications of physics to biology, specifically quantum sensors for the imaging of membrane proteins. I hope we get a chance to meet properly soon.
All of us, including the RSV, have been seriously impacted this past year. The circumstances RSV faces in the next 12-18 months are exceptionally sensitive. In short, my focus as a Council member has become singularly set on ensuring RSV survives. On the positive side, as a consequence of several vital efforts by the leadership team and Council undertaken over the past few years, we have some opportunities to emerge strong out of this crisis. That said, the situation is non-trivial, and requires careful and continuous guidance.
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.