Shining a Light on Patients

Dr Rajesh Ramanathan combines nanoparticles with light to achieve a wide range of biomedical applications. From sensing chemicals and bacteria, to healing wounds and imaging patients, his nanotechnology is at the forefront of biomedical science and its potential is endless. Winner of the 2019 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for Physical Sciences, Dr Ramanathan shared his journey to incorporate elements of nature into the design of nanoparticles for a wide range of biomedical applications. By shining a light on patients and nanoparticles, he can reveal their glucose levels, repair their wounds, and image their tumours.

A Warming Climate’s Extremes

Current climate models cannot capture the persistence of drought and length of heatwaves, and they struggle to simulate future rainfall extremes, sometimes because they offer conflicting results, because climate prediction and greenhouse gas emission models are not just in the hands of climate scientists. They have to take the human population into account – demography, economics, technology, and our actions. The modelling of future carbon dioxide emissions provides multiple possible futures depending on these. Professor Andy Pitman asks “what do you want for your future? Which do you think we can achieve?”

Problems and Problem Solving Around Epilepsy

Among epileptic patients, 70% are effectively treated with drugs and live a generally normal life, but the other 30% are resistant to these drugs. Some can get around this by having invasive surgical procedures. Yet despite progress of the last 30 years to improve epilepsy treatment, the percentage of patients who cannot be treated remains at 30%. One of the most debilitating aspects of epilepsy is the uncertainty of when a seizure will occur – even if they are as infrequent as two a year. If you don’t know when the seizures will come, you cannot know when you are safe. Professor David Grayden wants to predict the onset of seizures, which could change the lives of over 15 million people.

Vale Dr David Maughan Churchill, 1933 – 2019

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.

The RSV’s Mystery Portrait – Solved!

The Society’s long history of convening the science community and promoting science in our state has contributed to a burgeoning archive deposited with the State Library of Victoria, who provide public access to these for the benefit of researchers. Meanwhile, we still maintain quite a few curious documents and objects from our past, squirrelled away in various shelves, cabinets and cupboards, our small archive room and the squeezy spaces beneath the raked seating of the Ellery Theatre. One such object is this mysterious portrait from the mid-20th century, painted in 1961 by Orlando Dutton, depicting a scholar, his medals and a microscope, without any name provided.