President’s Welcome (list of Presidents current & past below)
Welcome to the Royal Society of South Africa

Scientific knowledge – the collection, understanding and interpretation of evidence and data – is the dynamic of any healthy and progressive society. Reliable and accurate knowledge drives the economy, encourages research, fosters good governance and high standards of education and develops a nation that can hold its own on a global scale.

Independent of government or any other formal institution, the Royal Society of South Africa has a long and prestigious history of contribution to the scientific eminence of South Africa.

The Society is based in Cape Town and there are branches throughout the country. Formally established in 1908 it is a merit-based organisation whose influence and renown is founded on the achievements of its Fellows and Members , men and women who represent a wide range of disciplines from Archaeology to Zoology – with Astronomy, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, Historical Studies, Ichthyology, Mathematics, Mining, Physics and many others in between.

The principal aim of the Society is to promote and develop scientific ideas and knowledge and to focus on research, scholarship, education and communication. We therefore have links with other similar societies and organisations both within South Africa and internationally. We publish an outstanding interdisciplinary journal, The Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa to showcase significant work, we hold conferences, lectures, workshops and discussions and we award prizes and other honours to outstanding South African scientists as well as to learners at school and university who show promise and ability.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information concerning membership, publications and activities such as lectures, conferences and other programmes.


The current President:  2011 – Prof. D A Cowan 


1908 Mr S.S. Hough  

1912 Dr L. Péringuey  

1918 Dr J.D.F. Gilchrist  

1923 Dr A. Ogg  

1928 Dr W.A. Jolly  

1933 Dr A.W. Rogers  

1936 Prof. L. Crawford

1942 Prof. A. Brown

1946 Prof. R.S. Adamson

1949 Dr. J.Jackson

1950 Prof. R.W. James

1953 Dr S.H. Skaife

1955 Dr S.H. Haughton 

1957 Prof. E. Newbery

1959 Prof. A.J.H. Goodwin

1960 Dr S. Meiring Naudé

1962 Dr M.R. Levyns

1964 Dr W.S. Rapson

1966 Prof. W.J. Lutjeharms

1968 Dr G.G.Campbell

1970 Prof. P.V. Tobias

1972 Prof. N. Sapeika

1974 Prof. W.J. Talbot

1977 Prof. A.W. Sloan

1979 Prof. A.C. Brown

1981 Prof. B. Warner 

1983 Prof. E.S.W. Simpson

1984 Prof. R.C. Bigalke

1987 Prof. W. Gevers

1989 Prof. F.R.N. Nabarro

1992 Prof. G.R.F. Ellis

1997 Prof. O.W. Prozesky

1999 Prof. J.P.F. Sellschop

2002 Prof. L.R. Nassembeni

2004 Prof. D.E. Rawlings

2006 Prof. J D Skinner