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A fellow is a member of a group (or fellowship) that work together in pursuing mutual knowledge or practice. There are many different kinds of fellowships which are awarded for different reasons in academia and industry, often indicating an advanced level of scholarship.
Education and academia
In education and academia there are several kinds of fellowships, awarded for different reasons:
The title of research fellow is used to denote an academic research position at a university or a similar institution and is roughly equivalent to the title of lecturer in the teaching career pathway. Research fellow is also used to refer to the holder of a research fellowship. These are often shortened to the name of the programme or organization, e.g. Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow rather than Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow, except where this might cause confusion with another fellowship, e.g. Royal Society University Research Fellowship).
In the context of graduate school in the United States and Canada, a fellow is a recipient of a postgraduate fellowship. Examples include the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rosenthal Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship and the Presidential Management Fellowship. It is granted to prospective or current students, on the basis of their academic or research achievements.
In the UK, research fellowships are awarded to support postdoctoral researchers such as those funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). At ETH Zurich, postdoctoral fellowships support incoming researchers. The MacArthur Fellows Program (aka "genius grant") as prestigious research fellowship awarded in the United States.
The title of (senior) teaching fellow is used to denote an academic teaching position at a university or similar institution and is roughly equivalent to the title of (senior) lecturer. The title (senior) fellow can also be bestowed to an academic member of staff upon retirement who continues to be affiliated to a university in the United Kingdom.
The term teaching fellow or teaching assistant is used, in the United States and United Kingdom, in secondary school, high school and middle school setting for students or adults that assist a teacher with one or more classes.
Fellowships as a prize or honor
Fellowships can be awarded as a prize in their own right, e.g. the Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS) and Fellows are often the highest grade of membership of many professional associations or learned societies, for example, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators or Royal College of Surgeons. Lower grades are referred to as members (who typically share voting rights with the fellows), or associates (who may or may not, depending on whether "associate" status is a form of full membership). How a fellowship is awarded varies for each society, but may typically involve some or all of these:
- A qualifying period in a lower grade
- Passing a series of examinations
- Nomination by two existing fellows who know the applicant professionally
- Evidence of continued formal training post-qualification
- Evidence of substantial achievement in the subject area
- Submission of a thesis or portfolio of works which will be examined
- Election by a vote of the fellowship
Exclusive learned societies such as the Royal Society have Fellow as the only grade of membership, others like the Faculty of Young Musicians (now defunct) have members holding the post of Associate and posts Honoris Causa. The Management and Strategy Institute has two membership grades titled Fellow and Senior Fellow. Examples of Fellowship in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada include:
- Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS)
- Fellow of the American Physical Society (FAPS)
- Fellow of the American Chemical Society (FACS)
- Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (FAMS)
- Fellow of the American Guild of Organists (FAGO)
- Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (FAAAS)
- Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (FAIMBE)
- Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (FACM)
- Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM)
- Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (FHS)
- Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW)
- Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society (DFBCS)
- Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (FSIAM)
- Fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology (FISCB)
- Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO)
- Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London (FRPSL)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC)
- Fellow of The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (FIDM)
- Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FInstP)
- Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS)
- Fellow of the British Academy (FBA)
- Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS)
- Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS)
- Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP)
- Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS)
- Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)
- Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (FAAAS)
- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA)
- Fellow of the Zoological Society of London (FZS)
- Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS)
- Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (FAAAI)
- Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET)
- Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng)
- Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci)
- Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (FRPharmS)
- Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (FGDC)
Appointment as an honorary fellow in a learned or professional society can be either to honour exceptional achievement and/or service within the professional domain of the awarding body or to honour contributions related to the domain from someone who is professionally outside it. Membership of the awarding body may or may not be a requirement.
Ancient university fellowships
At the ancient universities of the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and Trinity College, Dublin, members of the teaching staff typically have two affiliations: one as a reader, lecturer, or other academic rank within a department of the university, as at other universities, and a second affiliation as a fellow of one of the colleges of the university. The fellows, sometimes referred to as University dons, form the governing body of the college. They may elect a council to handle day-to-day management. All fellows are entitled to certain privileges within their colleges, which may include dining at High Table (free of charge) and possibly the right to a room in college (free of charge).
At Cambridge, retired academics may remain fellows. At Oxford, however, a Governing Body fellow would normally be elected a fellow emeritus and would leave the Governing Body upon his or her retirement. Distinguished old members of the college, or its benefactors and friends, might also be elected 'Honorary Fellow', normally for life; but beyond limited dining rights this is merely an honour. Most Oxford colleges have 'Fellows by Special Election' or 'Supernumerary Fellows', who may be members of the teaching staff, but not necessarily members of the Governing Body.
At Harvard University and some other universities in the United States, "fellows" are members of the Board of Trustees who hold administrative positions as non-executive trustee rather than academics.
In US medical institutions, a fellow refers to someone who has completed residency training (e.g. in internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, etc.) and is currently in a 1 to 3 year subspecialty training program (e.g. cardiology, pediatric nephrology, transplant surgery, etc.).
Industry and corporate fellows
Corporations in research and development - intensive industries (e.g., IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Google or Apple in information technology, Bell Labs, Northrop Grumman or L3 Technologies in telecommunications, United Technologies in aerospace, and Boston Scientific in medical devices, for example) and large scientific organizations (e.g., NASA, ORNL) appoint a very small number of top senior researchers as corporate or technical Fellows, either in Science or in Engineering. These are internationally recognized R&D leaders who are among the smartest individuals in the world in their respective fields.
Examples of Science and Engineering Fellows in research and development - intensive organizations include:
Nonprofit and government fellowships
The title fellow can be used for participants in a professional development program run by a nonprofit or governmental organization. This type of fellowship is a short term work opportunity (1–2 years) for professionals who already possess some level of academic or professional expertise that will serve the nonprofit mission. Fellows are given a stipend as well as professional experience and leadership training.
- "Oxford English Dictionary: Fellow". oed.com. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
- "Research Fellows Directory". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 3 May 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "Research Fellows". Imperial College London. Retrieved 19 June 2016. Contains examples (as of 19 June 2016) of staff titled "Research Fellow", "Junior Research Fellow", "Royal Society – EPSRC Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow" and "Royal College of Surgeons Research Fellow".
- "University Research Fellowship: for outstanding scientists in the UK". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2016-02-03.
- 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.
- Anon (2016). "Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships". wellcome.ac.uk. London: Wellcome Trust.
- Anon (2016). "David Phillips Fellowships". bbsrc.ac.uk. Swindon: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
- Anon (2016). "ETH Zurich Postdoctoral Fellowships (ETH Fellows)". ethz.ch.
- "North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program". teachingfellows.org. Teaching Fellows. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Management and Strategy Institute Fellowship Program".
- UVM Career Services. "Find Non-Profit Fellowships". University of Vermont. Retrieved 19 July 2011.