Royal Society of South Australia

The Royal Society of South Australia (RSSA) is a Learned Society whose interest is in Science, particularly, but not only, of South Australia. The major aim of the Society is the promotion and diffusion of scientific knowledge, particularly in relation to Natural Sciences.

The Society stems directly from the Adelaide Philosophical Society founded on 10 January 1853. The title "Royal" was granted by her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1880 and the Society became known by its present designation. It was incorporated in 1883.

Adelaide Philosophical Society

The Society had its origins in a meeting at the Stephens Place home of J. L. Young (founder of the Adelaide Educational Institution) on the evening of 10 January 1853. Members inducted were Messrs. John Brown, John Howard Clark, Davy, Doswell, Charles Gregory Feinaigle, Gilbert, Gosse, Hamilton, Hammond, W. B. Hays, Jones, Kay, Mann, W. W. Whitridge, Williams, Wooldridge and John Lorenzo Young.[1] J. Howard Clark was elected secretary. On 15 September rules were adopted and His Excellency the Governor Sir Henry Young was elected president.[2] At the time of its first Annual General Meeting membership had risen to 35.[3] T. D. Smeaton has also been credited with helping found the Society.[4]

It became the Royal Society of South Australia late in 1880,[5] following the nomenclature used in other Australian colonies, and perhaps hoping to emulate their success.[6] The Field Naturalists Society of South Australia was formed as a section of the Society in 1883.


There are five classes of members:[7]

  • Honorary Fellows,
  • Sustaining Fellows,
  • Fellows,
  • Associate Fellows and
  • Student Fellows

Awards and medals

The society awards:[8]

  • The Verco Medal
  • The Publication Medal
  • The Royal Society of South Australia Postgraduate Student Prize
  • The H. G. Andrewartha Medal

List of presidents

Royal Society of South Australia Presidents:[9]

1853–1854 Sir Henry Young
1855 Benjamin Babbage
1856–1861 Sir Richard MacDonnell
1862–1868 Sir Dominick Daly
1869–1872 James Ferguson
1877 Sir William Jervois
1878–1879 Ralph Tate
1880–1881 Sir Samuel Way
1882 Sir Charles Todd
1883H. T. Whittell
1884 Sir Horace Lamb
1885 Henry Mais [10]
1886–1889 Edward Rennie
1889 Sir Edward Stirling
1890–1891 Thomas Blackburn [11]
1892–1894 Ralph Tate (2nd term)
1895–1896 Walter Howchin
1897–1899 William Lennox Cleland
1900–1903 Edward Rennie (2nd term)
1903–1921Sir Joseph Verco
1921 Richard Sanders Rogers [12]
1922–1924 Robert Pulleine [13]
1925Sir Douglas Mawson
1926 Theodore Osborn
1927 Frederic Wood Jones
1927–1928Sir John Cleland
1929–1930 Leonard Keith Ward
1931 Charles Fenner [14]
1932 Thomas Harvey Johnston [15]
1933 James Arthur Prescott
1934 John McConnell Black
1935 Thomas Draper Campbell [16]
1936 Cecil Madigan
1937 Herbert Mathew Hale [17]
1938 James Davidson [18][19]
1939 Henry Fry
1940 Ralph W. Segnit
1941 Sir John Cleland (2nd term)
1942 Joseph Garnett Wood
1943 William Ternent Cooke [20]
1944 Herbert Womersley [21]
1945 Sir Douglas Mawson (2nd term)
1946 Clarence Sherwood Piper [22]
1947 Hugh Christian Trumble [23]
1948 D. C. Swan
1949 Norman Tindale [24]
1950 A. W. Kleeman
1951 B. C. Cotton
1952 H. G. Andrewartha [25]
1953 S. B. Dickinson
1954 J. K. Taylor
1955 R. V. Southcott
1956 C. G. Stephens
1957 I. M. Thomas
1958 L. W. Parkin
1959–1960 T. R. N. Lothian
1961 R. V. Southcott (2nd term)
1962 Nelly Hooper Ludbrook
1963 J. T. Hutton
1964 A. R. Alderman
1965 S.J. Edmonds
1966 B. Daily
1967 H. B. S. Womersley
1968 K. R. Miles
1969 F. J. Mitchell
1970 C. B. Wells
1971 W. G. Inglis
1972 H. Wopfner
1973 K. E. Lee
1974 G. F. Gross
1975 J. W. Holmes
1976 C. R. Twidale
1977 B. P. Webb
1978 J. J. H. Szent-Ivany
1979 J. K. Ling
1980 S. A. Shepherd
1981 Warren Bonython
1982–1983 D. W. P. Corbett
1984 J. S. Womersley
1985–1986 Mike Tyler
1987 T. D. Scott
1988–1989 G. M. E. Mayo
1990–1992 N. A. Locket
1992–1994 W. D. Williams
1994–1996 M. Davies
1996–1998 T. C. R. White
1998–2000 M. A. J. Williams
2000–2002 N. F. Alley
2002–2004 O. W. Wiebkin
2004–2006 Rob W. Fitzpatrick [26]
2006–2008 Allan Pring [27]
2008–2010 John T. Jennings [28]
2010–2012 Nicholas J. Souter
2012–2014 Craig R. Williams
2014–2016 C. Michael Bull
2016–Present J. Long

Verco Medal recipients

"The medal shall be awarded for distinguished scientific work published by a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Australia. It is the highest honour that the Society can bestow on one of its Fellows. Only those who have made a significant, outstanding contribution to their field(s) of study receive the award."[8]

The medal is named in honour of Joseph Verco. The first award of the medal was to Prof Walter Howchin in 1929.[29]

Previous winners include:

2004Neville Alley[30]
1962Herbert Andrewartha
1996Mike Archer (paleontologist)
1989Ian Beveridge
1930John McConnell Black
2003John Bowie[31]
1933John Burton Cleland
Patrick De Deckker
1960Henry Herbert Finlayson
1999Rob Fitzpatrick
1970Martin Glaessner[32]
1946Herbert M. Hale
1935Thomas Harvey Johnston[33]
1929Walter Howchin
1963Nelly Hooper Ludbrook
1945Cecil Madigan
1931Douglas Mawson
1971Charles P. Mountford
1957Clarence Sherwood Piper[34]
1938James Arthur Prescott
2008Scoresby Shepherd
2010Mike Smith[35]
1968Reg Sprigg
1956Norman Tindale
1980Michael J. Tyler
1955Leonard Keith Ward
Tom White
2007Martin Williams[36]
1990William David (Bill) Williams[37]
1943Herbert Womersley
1969Hugh Bryan Spencer Womersley[38]
1944Joseph Garnett Wood
1932not awarded
1934not awarded
1936–1937not awarded
1939–1942not awarded
1947–1954not awarded
1958not awarded
1964not awarded
2013Alan Cooper[40]
2014John Long[41]
2017Corey Bradshaw[42]
2018Mike Lee[43]

Notable members

Notable members of the Royal Society of South Australia have included:

See also


  1. Adelaide Philosophical Society South Australian Register 11 January 1853 p.3 accessed 30 May 2011
  2. Adelaide Philosophical Society South Australian Register 19 September 1853 p.3 accessed 30 May 2011
  3. Adelaide Philosophical Society South Australian Register 30 January 1854 p.3 accessed 30 May 2011
  4. "The Late Mr. T. D. Smeaton". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929). Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia. 19 February 1908. p. 5. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  5. "Adelaide Philosophical Society". South Australian Register. XLV, (10, 577). South Australia. 7 October 1880. p. 2 (Supplement to the South Australian Register.). Retrieved 3 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  6. "Tuesday, October 12, 1880". The South Australian Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 12 October 1880. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  7. Membership, Royal Society of South Australia Inc.
  8. Awards & Medals Archived 12 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Royal Society of South Australia Inc.
  9. List of Presidents Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, RSSA
  10. Sally O'Neill, 'Mais, Henry Coathupe (1827–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974, pp 200-201
  11. Blackburn, Thomas (1844–1912), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  12. Joyce Gibberd, 'Rogers, Richard Sanders (1861–1942)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, p. 443.
  13. Neville Hicks, Helen McIntosh, 'Pulleine, Robert Henry (1869–1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp 306-307.
  14. Lynne Trethewey, 'Fenner, Charles Albert Edward (1884–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 481-482.
  15. Dorothea F. Sandars, 'Johnston, Thomas Harvey (1881–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, p. 501.
  16. Tasman Brown, Ruth Rogers, 'Campbell, Thomas Draper (1893–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 361-362.
  17. Hale, Herbert Mathew (1895–1963), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  18. Davidson, James (1885–1945), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  19. T. O. Browning, 'Davidson, James (1885–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 226-227.
  20. Cooke, William Ternent (1877–1957), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
    Margaret Macilwain, 'Cooke, Constance Mary Ternent (1882–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, Melbourne University Press, 2005, pp 76-77.
  21. Womersley, Herbert (1889–1962), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  22. Piper, Clarence Sherwood (1903–1988), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  23. Trumble, Hugh Christian (1903–), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  24. Tindale, Norman Barnett (1900–1993), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  25. Andrewartha, Herbert George (1907–1992), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
    L. C. Birch and T. O. Browning, Herbert George Andrewartha 1907-1992 Archived 2 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol.9, no.3, 1993.
  26. Dr. Rob W. Fitzpatrick, CSIRO
  27. Dr. Allan Pring, SA Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  28. Dr. John Jennings, University of Adelaide. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  29. Award of the Sir Joseph Verco Medal 1929-1976, TRSSA, Vol 100, p.208,
  30. The Board of South East Energy
  31. Frog research – more than skin deep, 16 December 2003, also at
  32. Glaessner, Martin Fritz (1906–1989),
  33. Johnston, Thomas Harvey (1881–1951),
  34. Piper, Clarence Sherwood (1903–1988),
  35. Dr Mike Smith, National Museum of Australia
  36. Royal Society honours for two, Adelaidean, October 2007,
  37. Williams, William David (1936–),
  38. Womersley, Hugh Bryan Spencer (1922–),
  39. Dr Helmut Wopfner—Biography, PESA News, June/July 2010, p.56
  40. "Alan Cooper". The Conversation. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  41. flindersblogs (9 October 2014). "Flinders scientist wins coveted science prize". Flinders University. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  42. newsdesk (11 October 2017). "Ecologist heads for top biology award". Flinders University. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  43. Sly, David (16 October 2018). "Palaeontology expert wins top science medal". Flinders In Touch. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  44. Cumming, D.A. and Moxham, G. They Built South Australia published by the authors February 1986 ISBN 0-9589111-0-X

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