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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

Annual General Meeting and 8th Meeting of the 193rd Session (2013-2014)

President's Report

Report by the President, Professor Ian Robson, presented at the Society's Annual General Meeting on June 16th 2014

1. Corporate Governance of the Society

(a) Charity status

Charity name: The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Registered Charity number: SC015549
Principal Address: 29/3 East London Street, Edinburgh, EH7 4BN

(b) Council for the 193rd session

Professor Ian Robson *
Mr Alexander Hayward *
Dr Alison Morrison-Low
Dr Tacye Phillipson
Dr Jane Ridder-Patrick
Professor Stuart Munro *, Professor Stephen Salter *, Dr Beverley Bergman, Mr Peter Jones *, Kyle Arnot
Other officers:
Mr Graham Rule
Excursion Organiser:
Mr Robert Reekie
Programme Secretary:
Brigadier Ian Gardiner
Dr Allen Simpson

* Councillors who will complete their term of office in this session and I would like to thank all these for their services.

(c) Meetings of Council

Council met on two occasions during the session: October 31st and April 9th. Agreement to increase the number of cheque signatories was also reached by Council through an email circulation in May.

Following the major changes enacted during the 192nd session, the key activities of the year were to (i) continue the drive for recruitment, especially for young people, (ii) continue the excellent work of improving the web-pages of the Society; (iii) recruit a Vice President and new members to Council, (iv) recruit a new President for the next three years. I am happy to say that all have been successfully executed.

The new members of Council for the coming three years to be proposed to the AGM are: Michael Topping, Neil Short and Jim Floyd.

Mr Peter Jones is proposed for Vice President along with Professor Stuart Munro for President.

(d) The Rules of the Society

The only change during the session was to increase the cheque signing powers by adding the Secretary and Web-Master to that of the Treasurer.

2 Activities during the 193rd session

(a) Meetings

As in previous years, the main activity of the Society is the monthly lectures that are open to the General Public. Thanks to all concerned, the programme of speakers was in place before the summer recess of 2013 and, similar to the previous year, only one talk had to be changed due to the unavailability of the speaker. The talks were all of an extremely high standard, covering a wide range of topics and very appealing to the audiences. The schedule of talks is given below:

Monday 7th October 2013. Professor Robin Sellar MB BS BSc DMRD FRCR FRCP FRCS, Professor of minimally invasive brain surgery, Edinburgh University. "The brain: attacked from within".

Monday 11th November 2013. Professor Murray Campbell FRSE, University of Edinburgh. "Rebecs and racketts, sackbuts and serpents: the fascinating world of early musical instruments".

Monday 2nd December 2013. Professor Tom Stevenson, Chairman of the Museum of Communication, Burntisland. "Microelectronics - key to our modern life style".

Monday 20th January 2014. Prof Gillian Wright MBE, Director, UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. "The James Webb Space Telescope Mission".

Monday 10th February 2014. Professor Stephen Blackmore CBE FLS FRGS FiBiol FRSE, Regius Keeper & Queen's Botanist, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. "Gardening the Earth: Prospects for a Small Planet".

Monday 10th March 2014. Professor James Hough FRS FRSE FRSA. Chief Executive, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, University of Glasgow. "The Search for Gravitational Waves"

Monday 12th May 2014. Dr Victoria Martin, School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh. "After the Higgs boson: what's next for the Large Hadron Collider?".

Monday 16th June 2014. The AGM talk will be given by Dr Jane Ridder-Patrick entitled "Scottish Contributions to the Scientific Revolution".

Council decided that it would be beneficial for the meeting dates to be regularised and so from next session, all meetings will take place on the last Monday of the month. This should establish a set pattern which should be beneficial to Fellows. I am delighted to be able to announce that all the meetings for the next session are already organised and published on the web and thanks go to members of Council for their suggestions and to Brigadier Ian Gardiner for the subsequent organisation of the programme.

(b) Excursions

Two excursions have been planned for the summer (one of which has already taken place): Saturday June 7th to Torness Nuclear Power Station in East Lothian; Monday July 14th to the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility at the Kings Buildings, University of Edinburgh.

3 Medals and awards

(a) The Technological Studies Prize and Bronze Medal

The Societies Prize and medal for the best Highers student in Technological Studies was awarded to Catriona Sinclair of George Watson's College.The award, constituting a book token for £100 was presented at the Science in the Parliament event at Our Dynamic Earth on November 13th 2013.

(b) Honorary Fellows

No Honorary Fellows are proposed for this session but it was extremely gratifying to learn that one of our Honorary Fellows, Professor Peter Higgs, was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics.

4 Membership and Members

The membership stood at 178 [same as last year.]. Five memberships lapsed and we welcomed six new Fellows, which is a very welcome trend. The meetings were all well attended and the average meeting size stood at 45.

During the year there was one death to record, that of John Hull

It has been my great honour and pleasure to serve the Society as President over the past three years. I believe we are now in a much stronger position moving forward and I wish my successor and all of you, the Fellows, all the very best for the future.

Professor Ian Robson, President

The Royal Scottish Society of Arts is Registered Scottish Charity SC015549

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