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Fellow of the Royal Society

Fellowship of the Royal Society
Headquarters of the Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace in London
Awarded for"Contributions to the improvement of natural knowledge"[1]
Sponsored byRoyal Society
Date1663; 361 years ago (1663)
LocationLondon
CountryUnited Kingdom
Total no. FellowsApproximately 8,000[2] (1,743 living Fellows)

Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the Fellows of the Royal Society of London to individuals who have made a "substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science".[1]

Fellowship of the Society, the oldest known scientific academy in continuous existence, is a significant honour. It has been awarded to many eminent scientists throughout history, including Isaac Newton (1672),[2] Benjamin Franklin (1756), Charles Babbage (1816), [2] Michael Faraday (1824),[2] Charles Darwin (1839),[2] Ernest Rutherford (1903),[3] Srinivasa Ramanujan (1918),[4] Albert Einstein (1921),[5] Paul Dirac (1930), Winston Churchill (1941), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1944),[6] Dorothy Hodgkin (1947),[7] Alan Turing (1951),[8] Lise Meitner (1955)[9] and Francis Crick (1959).[10][11] More recently, fellowship has been awarded to Stephen Hawking (1974), David Attenborough (1983), Tim Hunt (1991), Elizabeth Blackburn (1992), Raghunath Mashelkar (1998), Tim Berners-Lee (2001), Venki Ramakrishnan (2003), Atta-ur-Rahman (2006),[12] Andre Geim (2007),[13] James Dyson (2015), Ajay Kumar Sood (2015), Subhash Khot (2017), Elon Musk (2018),[14] Elaine Fuchs (2019) and around 8,000 others in total,[2] including over 280 Nobel Laureates since 1900. As of October 2018, there are approximately 1,689 living Fellows, Foreign and Honorary Members, of whom 85 are Nobel Laureates.[15]

Elected in 1672, Isaac Newton was one of the earliest fellows of the Royal Society.

Fellowship of the Royal Society has been described by The Guardian as "the equivalent of a lifetime achievement Oscar"[16] with several institutions celebrating their announcement each year.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Fellowships

Stephen Hawking was elected a Fellow in 1974.[24]

Up to 60 new Fellows (FRS), honorary (HonFRS) and foreign members (ForMemRS) are elected annually in late April or early May, from a pool of around 700 proposed candidates each year.[25] New Fellows can only be nominated by existing Fellows for one of the fellowships described below:

Fellow

Bill Bryson, elected as an Hononary Member in 2013

Every year, up to 52 new fellows are elected from the United Kingdom, the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations and Ireland, which make up around 90% of the society.[26][27] Each candidate is considered on their merits and can be proposed from any sector of the scientific community. Fellows are elected for life on the basis of excellence in science and are entitled to use the post-nominal letters FRS.[1]

Foreign member

Jennifer Doudna, elected as a Foreign Member in 2016

Every year, fellows elect up to ten new foreign members. Like fellows, foreign members are elected for life through peer review on the basis of excellence in science. As of 2016, there are around 165 foreign members, who are entitled to use the post-nominal ForMemRS.[28]

Honorary fellow

Ramanujan was elected a Fellow in 1917.

Honorary Fellowship is an honorary academic title awarded to candidates who have given distinguished service to the cause of science, but do not have the kind of scientific achievements required of Fellows or Foreign Members. Honorary Fellows include the World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (2022), Bill Bryson (2013), Melvyn Bragg (2010), Robin Saxby (2015), David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville (2008), Onora O'Neill (2007), John Maddox (2000),[29] Patrick Moore (2001) and Lisa Jardine (2015).[30] Honorary Fellows are entitled to use the post nominal letters HonFRS.[31]

Former statute 12 fellowships

David Attenborough was elected a Fellow in 1983, under former statute 12.

Statute 12 is a legacy mechanism for electing members before official honorary membership existed in 1997.[32] Fellows elected under statute 12 include David Attenborough (1983) and John Palmer, 4th Earl of Selborne (1991).

Royal Fellow

The Council of the Royal Society can recommend members of the British royal family for election as Royal Fellow of the Royal Society. As of 2023 there are four royal fellows:

  1. Charles III, elected 1978[33]
  2. Anne, Princess Royal, elected 1987[34]
  3. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, elected 1990[35]
  4. William, Prince of Wales, elected 2009[36]

Elizabeth II was not a Royal Fellow, but provided her patronage to the society, as all reigning British monarchs have done since Charles II of England. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1951) was elected under statute 12, not as a Royal Fellow.[37]

Election of new fellows

The election of new fellows is announced annually in May, after their nomination and a period of peer-reviewed selection.[1]

Nomination

Each candidate for Fellowship or Foreign Membership is nominated by two Fellows of the Royal Society (a proposer and a seconder), who sign a certificate of proposal.[38] Previously, nominations required at least five fellows to support each nomination by the proposer,[38] which was criticised for supposedly establishing an old boy network and elitist gentlemen's club.[39][40][41] The certificate of election (see for example[42]) includes a statement of the principal grounds on which the proposal is being made. There is no limit on the number of nominations made each year. In 2015, there were 654 candidates for election as Fellows and 106 candidates for Foreign Membership.[1]

Selection

The Council of the Royal Society oversees the selection process and appoints 10 subject area committees, known as Sectional Committees, to recommend the strongest candidates for election to the Fellowship. The final list of up to 52 Fellowship candidates and up to 10 Foreign Membership candidates is confirmed by the Council in April, and a secret ballot of Fellows is held at a meeting in May. A candidate is elected if they secure two-thirds of votes of those Fellows voting.

An indicative allocation of 18 Fellowships can be allocated to candidates from Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences; and up to 10 from Applied Sciences, Human Sciences and Joint Physical and Biological Sciences. A further maximum of six can be 'Honorary', 'General' or 'Royal' Fellows. Nominations for Fellowship are peer reviewed by Sectional Committees, each with at least 12 members and a Chair (all of whom are Fellows of the Royal Society). Members of the 10 Sectional Committees change every three years to mitigate in-group bias. Each Sectional Committee covers different specialist areas including:

  1. Computer science
  2. Mathematics
  3. Astronomy and physics
  4. Chemistry
  5. Engineering
  6. Earth science and environmental science
  7. Molecules of Life[43]
  8. Cell biology
  9. Multicellular organisms
  10. Patterns in Populations[44]

Admission

New Fellows are admitted to the Society at a formal admissions day ceremony held annually in July,[45] when they sign the Charter Book and the Obligation which reads: "We who have hereunto subscribed, do hereby promise, that we will endeavour to promote the good of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, and to pursue the ends for which the same was founded; that we will carry out, as far as we are able, those actions requested of us in the name of the Council; and that we will observe the Statutes and Standing Orders of the said Society. Provided that, whensoever any of us shall signify to the President under our hands, that we desire to withdraw from the Society, we shall be free from this Obligation for the future".[1]

Since 2014, portraits of Fellows at the admissions ceremony have been published without copyright restrictions in Wikimedia Commons under a more permissive Creative Commons license which allows wider re-use.[46][47]

Research fellowships and other awards

Brian Cox, a professor of physics, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016 having previously held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) from 2005 to 2013.[48]

In addition to the main fellowships of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS & HonFRS), other fellowships are available which are applied for by individuals, rather than through election. These fellowships are research grant awards and holders are known as Royal Society Research Fellows.[49]

In addition to the award of Fellowship (FRS, HonFRS & ForMemRS) and the Research Fellowships described above, several other awards, lectures and medals of the Royal Society are also given.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Elections". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Fellowship of the Royal Society 1660–2015". London: Royal Society. 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015.
  3. ^ Eve, A. S.; Chadwick, J. (1938). "Lord Rutherford 1871–1937". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2 (6): 394–423. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1938.0025.
  4. ^ Neville, Eric Harold (1921). "The Late Srinivasa Ramanujan". Nature. 106 (2673): 661–662. Bibcode:1921Natur.106..661N. doi:10.1038/106661b0. S2CID 4185656. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  5. ^ Whittaker, E. (1955). "Albert Einstein. 1879–1955". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 1: 37–67. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1955.0005. JSTOR 769242. S2CID 619823.
  6. ^ Tayler, Roger J. (1996). "Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. 19 October 1910 – 21 August 1995". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 42: 80–94. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1996.0006. S2CID 58736242.
  7. ^ Dodson, Guy (2002). "Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin, O.M. 12 May 1910 – 29 July 1994". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 48: 179–219. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2002.0011. PMID 13678070. S2CID 61764553.
  8. ^ Newman, M. H. A. (1955). "Alan Mathison Turing. 1912–1954". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 1: 253–263. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1955.0019. JSTOR 769256.
  9. ^ "The Royal Society – Fellow Details". The Royal Society. 13 September 2020. Archived from the original on 7 March 2021. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  10. ^ Bretscher, Mark S.; Mitchison, Graeme (2017). "Francis Harry Compton Crick OM. 8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 63: rsbm20170010. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2017.0010. ISSN 0080-4606.
  11. ^ Rich, Alexander; Stevens, Charles F. (2004). "Obituary: Francis Crick (1916–2004)". Nature. 430 (7002): 845–847. Bibcode:2004Natur.430..845R. doi:10.1038/430845a. PMID 15318208.
  12. ^ "Atta-Ur Rahman". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Andre Geim". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 20 November 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Elon Musk elected as Fellow of the Royal Society". Sky News. 9 May 2018. Archived from the original on 4 January 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  15. ^ "Fellows". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 29 April 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  16. ^ Blackstock, Colin (2004). "Fellows keep Susan Greenfield off Royal Society list". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Eminent cancer researchers elected to Royal Society Fellowship". London: Institute of Cancer Research. 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Royal Society Fellowship for Crick scientist". London: Francis Crick Institute. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Manchester scientists elected as Fellows of Royal Society". Manchester: University of Manchester. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Royal Society Fellows". London: Imperial College London. 2016. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Three University of Aberdeen researchers elected to Royal Society". Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016.
  22. ^ "The Royal Society announces election of new Fellows 2015". Cambridge: University of Cambridge. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Seven Oxford academics elected Fellows of the Royal Society". Oxford: University of Oxford. 2016. Archived from the original on 30 April 2016.
  24. ^ "Stephen Hawking". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  25. ^ Keeler, C. Richard (2011). "Three Hundred Fifty Years of the Royal Society". Archives of Ophthalmology. 129 (10): 1361–1365. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.222. PMID 21987680.
  26. ^ Council of the Royal Society (29 January 2015). "Statutes of the Royal Society" (PDF). London: Royal Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 March 2023. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  27. ^ "Fellowship of the Royal Society – a window on the election process" (PDF). London: Royal Society. October 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  28. ^ Gulyas, Balázs; Somogyi, Peter (2012). "János Szentágothai 31 October 1912 – 8 September 1994: Elected ForMemRs 20 April 1978". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 59: 383–406. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2012.0038. PMC 4477047. PMID 26113752.
  29. ^ Gratzer, Walter (2010). "Sir John Royden Maddox. 27 November 1925 – 12 April 2009". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 56: 237–255. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2009.0024.
  30. ^ Hunter, Michael (2017). "Lisa Jardine CBE. 12 April 1944 – 25 October 2015". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 63: rsbm20170015. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2017.0015. ISSN 0080-4606.
  31. ^ "Fellows Directory". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  32. ^ "Young guns". The Royal Society. 25 May 2020. Archived from the original on 9 March 2023. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  33. ^ "Prince Charles". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  34. ^ "Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal Princess Anne KG KT GCVO GCStJ QSO GCL FRS Royal Fellow". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  35. ^ "His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO ADC(P) FRS Royal Fellow". London: Royal Society. 1990. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  36. ^ "His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge KG KT ADC(P) FRS Royal Fellow". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  37. ^ "His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG Kt OM GBE FRS Statute 12". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  38. ^ a b Athene Donald (20 April 2012). "Ten Things You Should Know about Election to the Royal Society". Occam's Typewriter. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014.
  39. ^ Gallagher, Paul (2013). "Sparks fly over Royal Society gender study". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013.
  40. ^ Gallagher, Paul (2002). "A bunch of jolly-good fellows or old cronies who don't deserve £25m a year?". Times Higher Education. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014.
  41. ^ Connor, Steve (2002). "Royal societies not recruiting enough women, say MPs". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016.
  42. ^ "Certificate of Election and candidature: EC/2007/16: Andre Geim". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019.
  43. ^ "Sectional Committee 6: Molecules of Life". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 7 March 2023. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  44. ^ "Sectional Committee 9: Patterns in populations". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 7 March 2023. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  45. ^ McManus, Jo (2010). "Royal Society Admissions Day: photographing new Fellows". Archived from the original on 14 April 2015.
  46. ^ "Images released by the Royal Society". Wikimedia Commons. Archived from the original on 7 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  47. ^ Byrne, John (11 September 2014). "New images released are quickly put to use". Wikimedia Foundation blog. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014.
  48. ^ "Professor Brian Cox OBE FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 29 April 2016.
  49. ^ "Research Fellows directory". Archived from the original on 3 May 2016.
  50. ^ "University Research Fellowship: for outstanding scientists in the UK". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016.
  51. ^ Cook, Alan (2000). "URFs become FRS: Frances Ashcroft, Athene Donald and John Pethica". Notes and Records of the Royal Society. 54 (3): 409–411. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2000.0181. S2CID 58095147.
  52. ^ "Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016.
  53. ^ "Newton Advanced Fellowships". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 15 May 2016.
  54. ^ "Industry Fellowships". royalsociety.org. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016.
  55. ^ "Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship". London: royalsociety.org. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
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Fellow of the Royal Society
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