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How to Become an APS Fellow

by Barrett Ripin, APS Associate Executive Officer and Ken Cole, APS Honors Program

Ken Cole
Ken Cole

It is time for the annual call for APS Fellowship nominations. Fellowship is one of the highest levels of professional recognition conferred by the APS and by one's peers. It recognizes members who have contributed to the advancement of physics by independent, original research or who have rendered some other special service to the cause of the sciences.

The nomination process is straightforward and not terribly time consuming. A nomination form that cites the principal contributions of the candidate to physics is filled out and signed by two members of the Society (they do not have to be Fellows themselves) and sent to the Executive Officer prior to the operative deadline. Typically, one or two additional letters of support are included in the package, as well as a CV or publication list for the nominee. A nomination remains active for up to two years.

Contributions may consist of advances in knowledge through original research and publication, significant and innovative contributions in the applications of physics to science and technology, or significant contributions to the teaching of physics or service and participation in the activities of the Society.

After receipt by the APS, most nominations are first sent to the fellowship committee of an appropriate division, topical group, or forum for peer review. Neither the nominee nor nominators need be members of that unit. Unit fellowship committees forward their recommendations to the APS Fellowship Committee, chaired by the vice-president of the Society, which reviews the qualifications of all candidates including a few that do not fit within any unit's purview. From there, nominees are presented to Council at the Elections Meeting. There is an APS Constitutional limit to the number of fellows elected annually of no more than + of one-percent of the membership, or about 200 per year.

The above process is not as formidable as it may seem. If you know of a deserving colleague, nominate him or her. They will remember this gesture for the remainder of their careers - I do. Don't be shy, if you think you qualify, drop big hints to colleagues who might nominate you. Unfortunately, many outstanding candidates are overlooked simply because colleagues assume that they already are fellows; this happens even to Nobel Laureates! Foreign, women, minority, and industrial physicists appear relatively underrepresented among fellows. If you belong to an underrepresented group and know of someone who deserves to be nominated, make a special effort to nominate them - if not you, who?

Instructions for submitting fellowship applications and deadlines are on the Announcements page and under the Fellowship button of the APS Home Page, or call the honors office at (301) 209-3268

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette