Royal Institution of Australia

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The RiAus is housed in the historic Adelaide Stock Exchange building, located between Pirie and Grenfell Streets in the Adelaide city centre
The Science Exchange

Opened in October 2009, (RiAus) the Royal Institution of Australia is a national scientific not-for-profit organisation with a mission to 'bring science to people and people to science'.

Concept[edit]

The concept of a Royal Institution of Australia was proposed by Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield CBE, as Thinker in Residence for the South Australian Government during 2004 and 2005.[1][2] Greenfield was Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain from 1998 to 2010. The South Australian Premier Mike Rann was receptive of the idea and secured State, Federal and private sector funding for the building and the programs. The Royal Institution of Australia's inaugural Chairman is Peter Yates AM.[3]

As a national hub for science communication, RiAus promotes public awareness and understanding of science. RiAus highlights the importance of science in everyday life by creating online content, public events, and education and teacher support programs.

RiAus foundation partners include the State Government of South Australia, the Commonwealth Government and Santos Ltd. It has a paid membership program, including both corporate and individual members, and most events are free.

RiAus is the first and only sister organisation outside of the UK of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (RiGB).[4]

Adelaide Stock Exchange Building[edit]

RiAus is housed at The Science Exchange in South Australia, which is Adelaide's former Stock Exchange building. Built in 1901 and designed by the architects Hedley Allen Dunn in collaboration with Henry Fuller, this red brick building in Federation/Edwardian style with Arts and Crafts influences (including a stained glass window by William Morris & Co, with three of the six panels after the designs of Edward Burne Jones)[5][6] is listed among the 120 nationally significant 20th century buildings in South Australia,[7]

Half of the building, which is open to the public on weekdays, has heritage value. The other half was gutted by two fires in the 20th century and is now office space for RiAus and the Australian Science Media Centre.

History[edit]

The establishment of RiAus was amongst the recommendations Professor Greenfield made during her Adelaide residency, which included initiatives to encourage collaboration and complementary research programs across South Australian universities, science communication programs for children, professional development for school teachers and the establishment of the Australian Science Media Centre. A key recommendation was the Bragg Initiative, which encouraged a relationship between South Australia and the RiGB [8] and was taken up by the South Australian government.

In June 2008, work commenced to convert the former Adelaide Stock Exchange building, which had remained empty for many years, into The Science Exchange.[9]

RiAus was opened on 8 October 2009 by the President of the Council of RiGB, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.[10]

Bragg Initiative[edit]

The Bragg Initiative, which led to the initial development of RiAus, was named for William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg. This father and son team won the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics for their 'services in the analysis of crystal structures by means of X rays'.[11] The Braggs worked most of their lives in Adelaide, but both served as directors of RiGB at different times. Both father and son had an enormous passion for communicating science to the broader community. The Bragg Initiative was as program within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, South Australian Government and was managed by Linda Cooper, Project Director.

Director[edit]

The Inaugural Director of RiAus was Professor Gavin Brown AO, Scottish born mathematician and former Vice Chancellor of The University of Adelaide and The University of Sydney.[12]

The current Director is Dr Paul Willis, a renowned science communicator, palaeontologist, science journalist and broadcaster. Prior to taking up his appointment at RiAus, Dr Willis was a presenter for ABC-TV's Catalyst. He replaced Acting Director, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith AM, who filled in after the resignation of Professor Gavin Brown (now deceased).

Programs[edit]

RiAus has developed a variety of world-class programs that allow scientists, researchers and media to connect with the community. These programs spotlight local, national and international scientific talent and develop public awareness of scientific topics.

RiAus programs use innovative and engaging formats including cultural fusions with theatre, music, dance and art, hands-on-activities, workshops, forums, debates, presentations and vodcasts.

RiAus provides professional development opportunities for scientists, students and education professionals with the development of STEM career packs and classroom resource notes for teachers.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]