Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society judges to have made a "substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science".
Fellowship of the Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, is a significant honour which has been awarded to many eminent scientists from history including Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Michael Faraday (1824), Ernest Rutherford (1903), Srinivasa Ramanujan (1919), Albert Einstein (1921), Winston Churchill (1941), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1944), Dorothy Hodgkin (1947), Alan Turing (1951) and Francis Crick (1959). More recently, fellowship has been awarded to Stephen Hawking (1974), Tim Hunt (1991), Elizabeth Blackburn (1992), Tim Berners-Lee (2001), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2003), Atta-ur Rahman (2006), Andre Geim (2007), James Dyson (2015), Ajay Kumar Sood (2015), Subhash Khot (2017) and around 8000 others in total, including over 280 Nobel Laureates since 1900. As of 2016[update], there are around 1600 living Fellows, Foreign and Honorary Members.
Fellowship of the Royal Society has been described by The Guardian newspaper as “the equivalent of a lifetime achievement Oscar” with several institutions celebrating their announcement each year.
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:
Every year, up to 52 new Fellows are elected from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations 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. See Fellows of the Royal Society and Female Fellows of the Royal Society.
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[update] there are around 165 Foreign Members, who are entitled to use the post-nominal ForMemRS. See Foreign Members of the Royal Society.
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 Bill Bryson (2013), Melvyn Bragg (2010), Robin Saxby (2015), David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville (2008) and Onora O'Neill (2007). Honorary Fellows are entitled to use the post nominal letters HonFRS. Others including John Maddox (2000), Patrick Moore (2001) and Lisa Jardine (2015) were elected as honorary fellows, see Honorary Fellows of the Royal Society.