The Guide to Becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society

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Guide to becoming a fellow of the Royal Society of London
Isaac Newton

How can you be listed with Isaac Newton as a Fellow of the Royal Society? Image Source: Bing

A mediocre and a genius can be distinguished as the former is only engaged in boasting himself, and the latter is engaged in not only recognizing but also appreciating true talents. It is well known that the greatest minds of our society work for the society, not for any recognition but to make our lives better. But as it is said, the lion is known by its mane.

Similarly, we get to know about the best talents of our Society through their achievements. There are several renowned institutions to appreciate the work of our true social reformers, and one of the most prestigious ones is the Royal Society of London. The Royal Society of London is a pioneer for gathering the most eminent scientists, technologists, and engineers of the whole world in one place. Becoming a fellow of the Royal Society must be a dream for every astute mind that wants to leave a permanent mark in the world with his work.

But dreams come true to those who work endlessly to catch them. Becoming a fellow of the Royal Society might be hard, but it is one of the most real honors a scholar desires to have. But who is a Fellow of the Royal Society? How can you put up your name in history by listing with big names like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein – all the great scientists we grow up learning about? Where can you find the ultimate guide to becoming a fellow of the Royal Society?  The answer is here.

Yes, you read it right. After reading this article, you will have a clear vision of all the answers to your questions regarding the fellowship. You are never too late to start. So it’s your time to follow this article and find out the complete guide to becoming a fellow of the Royal Society.

The Royal Society of London was found in 1660 to gather the greatest philosophers of the United Kingdom of that time to improve the universal perception of the mass. On November 28, 1660, a seminar was arranged at the Gresham Colleges, London. Eminent people in the field of natural sciences were present there for the lecture of renowned astronomer and physicist Professor Christopher Wren.

Royal Society, Crane Court, off Fleet Street, London: a meet

Royal Society, Crane Court, off Fleet Street, London: a meet Image source: Bing

Coming out of the conference, 12 men didn’t go home that day, unlike others. They started to discuss the process to fulfill the dream that was seen in the early 1640s. Their discussions satisfied the ideas of Francis Bacon, who wanted a scientific revolution to change the perception of the world towards progress. They resolved to set up a college for promoting Physio-Mathematicall Experminetal learning with Bacon’s slogan “Knowledge is power”.

These people weren’t meeting for the first time to discuss the plan. They dreamt of such a society from the early 1640s.  And the initiative called the invisible college of 1660, turned into the Royal Society of London in 1662 when the then King Charles II granted a Royal charter to the Society. This was the beginning of the new pioneer in the scientific revolution.

Since then, the Royal Society of London has been a genuinely national society consisting of ambitious people who are devoted to the progress of Society by promoting science. So becoming a fellow of the Royal Society is not just an honor, it’s an opportunity to be immortal in the heart of the world.

Criteria for becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society:

Before we head towards the complete guide to becoming a fellow of the Royal Society, it is essential to know who can be the Fellow of the Royal Society. The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific academy and allows only some outstanding scholars from particular streams to be eligible for becoming a fellow of the Royal Society.

Only the people who have been engaged, expertise, inspired, promoted in the fields of mathematics, engineering science, and medical science. In a nutshell, only the experts in the streams, as mentioned above, who have made substantial contributions for the advancement of natural knowledge, will be allowed to use the prestigious FRS degree after their names.

The motto of the Royal Society is clear. Knowledge made useful. And the primary criterion for becoming a fellow of the Royal Society is scientific excellence. To be eligible for becoming a fellow of the Royal Society, each candidate has to come from a scientific background and be nominated by two existing fellows of the Royal Society.

Everyone is considered upon his/her own merits. Every year up to 52 Fellows and up to 10 Foreign members are elected through a peer-review process from numerous nominated scientists by the existing Fellows of the Royal Society.

The Royal Society is a national society of the United Kingdom, but unlike other such institutions, it doesn’t impose restrictions upon its membership. Breaking the norms, the Royal Society allows eligible candidates even outside of Britain to be a part of it.

That’s right. Any qualified candidate from across the globe can have the honor of becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society irrespective of caste, creed, gender, or any other form of discrimination. The new fellows are chosen through a nonpartisan election by existing fellows in the following way.

The process of Election explained

 

1. Nomination:

Becoming a fellow of the Royal Society is no less than a prestigious award. So like any other award ceremony, here too, we have appointments first. Two existing fellows of the Royal Society choose a candidate of their choice and nominate them with their signed certificate of proposal. In this way, groups of two existing fellows can nominate as many candidates as they want. They will also inform the candidates about their nominations. Now coming to the certificate. The certificate won’t be like any ordinary certificate stating that the two existing fellows are nominating the candidate.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, a renowned fellow of the Royal Society. Image source: Bing

The certificate must be attached with a statement where the two existing fellows will be pointing out their reasons for nominating the candidate. This statement will be opened to other current fellows of the Royal Society for inspection. All such nominations have to be submitted by September 30 each year.

If the President of the Royal Society suggests any changes to the nominations, that too has to be done within September 30. A nominated candidate remains eligible to take part in the Election for the next seven years. After the nomination process, comes the main stage of the Election.

2. The Election

The election process is rigorous and takes tenure of around ten months to finish. The method of becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society is based upon scientific peer review. After the annual closure date (September 30), the election process starts. The whole process takes place under the strict eyes of the Council of the Royal Society. The Biological Sciences Secretary and the Physical Sciences Secretary stay in command for the smooth running of the election process.

 

The Council selects ten sectional committees that consist of existing fellows from 10 different subject streams. Each candidate’s full curriculum vitae (what we popularly called CV) is sent to his relevant sectional committee, where the existing fellows shortlist candidates in early March by voting. 

 

Ten shortlists from the sectional committees are submitted to the Council. In April, the Council chooses up to 52 Fellows and 10 Foreign members. Nevertheless, this is not the end of the procedure. In May, a secret ballot of existing Fellows is arranged where they vote for the chosen candidates. If a nominee secures at least two-third of the votes, he/she is just at the doorstep of becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Venki Ramakrishnan

Venki Ramakrishnan, the President of the Royal Society. Image Source: Bing

Now, what is the maximum number of new fellows that can be chosen from a particular sectional committee? Not all of the chosen can be from any one or two specific subject streams. So there is a restriction in this case. A maximum of 18 Fellows can be elected from Physical Sciences. The order is as follows –

 

  • There will be around 18 from Biological Sciences
  • A further ten will from the Applied Sciences, as well as Human Sciences and Joint Physical and Biological Sciences
  • Finally, there will be a further 6 – the maximum limit – ‘Honorary,’ ‘General’ or ‘Royal’ Fellows.

3. Official admission to the Royal Society as a new Fellow:

This is the stage of congratulations, warm wishes, and the start of a whole new prestigious journey. Official admission to the Royal Society is like writing your name officially in the pages of history of the greatest names in the science of all time.

The formal admission process is held in July every year. Great opportunities come with significant responsibilities. So becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society brings to you not only a new door to endless possibilities but also a huge responsibility towards the Society overall. New Fellows are formally admitted and welcomed at the Admission Day Ceremony in July, where they accept their fellowship by signing the Charter Book and Obligation of the Fellows of the Royal Society.

becoming a fellow of the royal society

Only the greatest minds are allowed to use the prestigious FRS after their names. Image Source: Bing

So this was your ultimate guide to becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society. Knowledge is of no use until it is used for the upliftment of others. And through this article, you know why FRS is more than just a title after your name and how you can be one of them. 

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