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Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the judges of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, re ...
of London to individuals who have made a "substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics,
engineering science Engineering physics, or engineering science, refers to the study of the combined disciplines of physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and engineering, particularly computer, nuclear, electrical, electronic, aerospace, materials or mechanical en ...
, and
medical science Medicine is the science and practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, treatment, palliation of their injury or disease, and promoting their health. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practic ...
". 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),
Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic inducti ...
(1824),
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin ( ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, widely known for his contributions to evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended ...
(1839),
Ernest Rutherford Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand physicist who came to be known as the father of nuclear physics. ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' considers him to be the greatest ...
(1903), Srinivasa Ramanujan (1918),
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest and most influential physicists of all time. Einstein is best known for developing the theory ...
(1921), Paul Dirac (1930),
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 during the Second World War, and again from ...
(1941), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1944), Dorothy Hodgkin (1947),
Alan Turing Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical co ...
(1951), Lise Meitner (1955) and Francis Crick (1959). More recently, fellowship has been awarded to Stephen Hawking (1974), David Attenborough (1983),
Tim Hunt Sir Richard Timothy Hunt, (born 19 February 1943) is a British biochemist and molecular physiologist. He was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Paul Nurse and Leland H. Hartwell for their discoveries of protein molec ...
(1991), Elizabeth Blackburn (1992), Tim Berners-Lee (2001),
Venki Ramakrishnan Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (born 1952) is an Indian-born British and American structural biologist who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath, "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome" ...
(2003), Atta-ur-Rahman (2006), Andre Geim (2007), James Dyson (2015),
Ajay Kumar Sood Ajay Kumar Sood (born 26 June 1951) is an Indian physicist, researcher and is serving as the 4th Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. He is also holder of 2 US and 5 Indian patents, known for his pioneering research findin ...
(2015),
Subhash Khot Subhash Khot (born June 10, 1978 in Ichalkaranji) is an Indian-American mathematician and theoretical computer scientist who is the Julius Silver Professor of Computer Science in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York Unive ...
(2017) and around 8,000 others in total, including over 280 Nobel Laureates since 1900. , there are approximately 1,689 living Fellows, Foreign and Honorary Members, of which over 60 are Nobel Laureates. Fellowship of the Royal Society has been described by ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'' as "the equivalent of a lifetime achievement
Oscar Oscar, OSCAR, or The Oscar may refer to: People * Oscar (given name), an Irish- and English-language name also used in other languages; the article includes the names Oskar, Oskari, Oszkár, Óscar, and other forms. * Oscar (Irish mythology) ...
" with several institutions celebrating their announcement each year.


Fellowships

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. New Fellows can only be nominated by existing Fellows for one of the fellowships described below:


Fellow

Every year, up to 52 new fellows are elected from the United Kingdom, the rest of the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the ...
and Ireland, which make up around 90% of the society. 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.


Foreign member

Every year, fellows elect up to ten new foreign members. Like fellows, foreign members are elected for life through
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer revie ...
on the basis of excellence in science. , there are around 165 foreign members, who are entitled to use the post-nominal ForMemRS.


Honorary fellow

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 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ( ti, ቴዎድሮስ አድሓኖም ገብረኢየሱስ, sometimes spelt ti, ቴድሮስ ኣድሓኖም ገብረየሱስ, label=none; born 3 March 1965) is an Ethiopian public health official, researcher, and ...
(2022), Bill Bryson (2013), Melvyn Bragg (2010),
Robin Saxby Sir Robin Keith Saxby FREng Fellow of the Royal Society, HonFRS (born 4 February 1947) is an English engineer who was chief executive and then chairman of ARM Holdings, which he built to become a dominant supplier of embedded systems. Early l ...
(2015), David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville (2008), Onora O'Neill (2007),
John Maddox Sir John Royden Maddox, FRS (27 November 1925 – 12 April 2009) was a Welsh theoretical chemist, turned physicist, and science writer. He was an editor of ''Nature'' for 22 years, from 1966 to 1973 and 1980 to 1995. Education and early ...
(2000), Patrick Moore (2001) and Lisa Jardine (2015). Honorary Fellows are entitled to use the post nominal letters HonFRS.


Former statute 12 fellowships

Statute 12 is a legacy mechanism for electing members before official honorary membership existed in 1997. Fellows elected under statute 12 include David Attenborough (1983) and
John Palmer, 4th Earl of Selborne John Roundell Palmer, 4th Earl of Selborne, (24 March 1940 – 12 February 2021), was a British peer, ecological expert, and businessman. He was one of the hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the enactment of the H ...
(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. there are five royal fellows: #
Charles III Charles III (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is King of the United Kingdom and the 14 other Commonwealth realms. He was the longest-serving heir apparent and Prince of Wales and, at age 73, became the oldest person t ...
, elected 1978 #
Anne, Princess Royal Anne, Princess Royal (Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise; born 15 August 1950), is a member of the British royal family. She is the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the only sister of ...
, elected 1987 #
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, (Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick; born 9 October 1935) is a member of the British royal family. Queen Elizabeth II and Edward were first cousins through their fathers, King George VI, and Prince George, Duke ...
, elected 1990 # William, Prince of Wales, elected 2009 # Prince Andrew, Duke of York, elected 2013
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. She was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states during ...
was not a Royal Fellow, but provided her patronage to the society, as all reigning
British monarchs There have been 13 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland on 1 May 1707. England and Scotland had been in personal union since 24 March 1603. On 1 January 1801, the Kingdom of Great Brit ...
have done since Charles II of England. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1951) was elected under statute 12, not as a Royal Fellow.


Election of new fellows

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


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. Previously, nominations required at least five fellows to support each nomination by the proposer, which was criticised for supposedly establishing an old boy network and elitist gentlemen's club. The certificate of election (see for example) 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.


Selection

The Council of the Royal Society oversees the selection process and appoints 11 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 review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer revie ...
ed by Sectional Committees, each with at least 12 Members and a Chair. Members of the 11 Sectional Committees change every three years to mitigate in-group bias, each group covers different specialist areas including: 0.
Computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to practical disciplines (includi ...
s 1. Mathematics 2.
Astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, g ...
and
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that department of knowledge which r ...
3. Chemistry 4.
Engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more speciali ...
5. Earth science and environmental science 6.
Biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided into three fields: structural biology, enzymology and ...
and molecular cell biology 7. Microbiology,
immunology Immunology is a branch of medicineImmunology for Medical Students, Roderick Nairn, Matthew Helbert, Mosby, 2007 and biology that covers the medical study of immune systems in humans, animals, plants and sapient species. In such we can see the ...
and developmental biology 8.
Anatomy Anatomy () is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science that deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having it ...
, physiology and
neuroscience Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system), its functions and disorders. It is a multidisciplinary science that combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, developme ...
9. Organismal biology,
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Variation ...
and
ecology Ecology () is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms at the individual, population, community, ecosystem, and biosphere level. Ecology overl ...
10. Health and
human science Human science (or human sciences in the plural), also known as humanistic social science and moral science (or moral sciences), studies the philosophical, biological, social, and cultural aspects of human life. Human science aims to expand our u ...
s


Admission

New Fellows are admitted to the Society at a formal admissions day ceremony held annually in July, 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". Since 2014, portraits of Fellows at the admissions ceremony have been published without copyright restrictions in
Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons (or simply Commons) is a media repository of free-to-use images, sounds, videos and other media. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation. Files from Wikimedia Commons can be used across all of the Wikimedia projects in ...
under a more permissive
Creative Commons license A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work".A "work" is any creative material made by a person. A painting, a graphic, a book, a song/lyric ...
which allows wider re-use.


Research Fellowships and other awards

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. Holders of these fellowships are known as Royal Society
Research Fellow A research fellow is an academic research position at a university or a similar research institution, usually for academic staff or faculty members. A research fellow may act either as an independent investigator or under the supervision of a pr ...
s. * University research fellowships (URFs):
Royal Society University Research Fellowship __NOTOC__ The Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) is a research fellowship awarded to outstanding early career scientists in the United Kingdom who are judged by the Royal Society to have the potential to become leaders in their fi ...
s are for outstanding scientists in the UK who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. Previous holders of URFs to have been elected FRS at a later date include Richard Borcherds (1994),
Jean Beggs Jean Duthie Beggs CBE Royal Society, FRS Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, FRSE Doctor of Science, DSc (née Lancaster, born 16 April 1950) is a Scottish geneticist. She is the Royal Society Darwin Trust Professor in the Wellcome Trust C ...
(1998),
Frances Ashcroft Dame Frances Mary Ashcroft (born 1952) is a British ion channel physiologist. She is Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Research Professor at the University Laboratory of Physiology at the University of Oxford. She is a fellow of Trinity College, Ox ...
(1999),
Athene Donald Dame Athene Margaret Donald (née Griffith; born 15 May 1953) is a British physicist. She is Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, and Master of Churchill College, Cambridge. Outside the University, she chaired the ...
(1999) and
John Pethica Sir John Bernard Pethica, (born 1953) is Science Foundation Ireland (S.F.I.) professor of material science at Trinity College, Dublin, Chief Scientific Advisor at the UK's National Physical Laboratory, and a visiting professor at Oxford Unive ...
(1999). More recent awardees include
Terri Attwood Teresa K. Attwood is a Professor of Bioinformatics in the Department of Computer Science and School of Biological Sciences at the University of Manchester and a visiting fellow at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). She held a Roy ...
,
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (born 11 August 1974) is Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and co-director of the Wellcome Trust PhD Programme in Neuroscience at University College London Sarah Jayne Blak ...
, Brian Cox, Sarah Bridle,
Shahn Majid Shahn Majid (born 1960 in Patna, Bihar, India) is an English pure mathematician and theoretical physicist, trained at Cambridge University and Harvard University and, since 2001, a Professor of Mathematics at the School of Mathematical Sciences, ...
,
Tanya Monro Tanya Mary Monro FOSA FAIP GAICD (born 1973)Prof. Tanya Monro
Royal Institution of Australia, riaus.org.au< ...
, Beth Shapiro, David J. Wales and
Katherine Willis Katherine Willis is an American actress and producer, best known for her roles as Myrtle Hale in '' Killers of the Flower Moon'', Diana Lord in ''Tell Me Your Secrets'', and Joanne Street in ''Friday Night Lights''. Early life and education ...
. * Royal Society Leverhulme Trust senior research fellowships are for scientists who would benefit from a period of full-time research without teaching and administrative duties, supported by the
Leverhulme Trust The Leverhulme Trust () is a large national grant-making organisation in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1925 under the will of the 1st Viscount Leverhulme (1851–1925), with the instruction that its resources should be used to suppo ...
. * Newton advanced fellowships provide established international researchers with an opportunity to develop the research strengths and capabilities of their research group. These are provided by the Newton Fund as part of the UK's
official development assistance Official development assistance (ODA) is a category used by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to measure foreign aid. The DAC first adopted the concept in 1969. It ...
. * Industry fellowships are for academic scientists who want to work on a collaborative project with industry, and for scientists in industry who want to work on a collaborative project with an academic organisation. * Dorothy Hodgkin fellowships are for outstanding scientists in the UK at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances. These fellowships are named after Dorothy Hodgkin. 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.


References

{{Authority control Academic awards Fellows of learned societies of the United Kingdom Royal Society 1663 establishments in England