Royal Microscopical Society

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Royal Microscopical Society
Founded September 1839, Royal Charter in 1866[1]
Type Professional Organisation and Registered Charity
Registration no. 241990
  • 37-38 St. Clements Street,
    Oxford, England, OX4 1AJ[2]
Coordinates 51°45′01″N 1°14′32″W / 51.750374°N 1.2422313°W / 51.750374; -1.2422313Coordinates: 51°45′01″N 1°14′32″W / 51.750374°N 1.2422313°W / 51.750374; -1.2422313
Origins Microscopical Society of London
Area served
UK, Worldwide
Key people
President Michelle Peckham
Vice President Peter Nellist[3]
£1,639,504 (year ending Dec 2015[2]
Mission to promote the advancement of microscopical science by such means as the discussion and publication of research into improvements in the construction and mode of application of microscopes and into those branches of science where microscopy is important.

The Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) is a learned society for the promotion of microscopy. It was founded in 1839 as the Microscopical Society of London, which makes it the oldest organisation of its kind in the world. In 1866, the society gained its royal charter and took its current name. Founded as a society of amateurs, its membership consists of individuals of all skill levels in numerous related fields from throughout the world. Every year since 1852, the society has published its own scientific journal, the Journal of Microscopy, which contains peer-reviewed papers and book reviews. The society is a registered charity, and is dedicated to advancing science, developing careers and supporting wider understanding of science and microscopy through its Outreach activities.

The Royal Microscopical Society is a member of the Foundation for Science and Technology, the Biosciences Federation, the International Federation of Societies for Microscopy, and the European Microscopy Society.


Alfred William Bennett, botanist, publisher, early vice-president and editor of the Journal of Microscopy from 1897 until his death in 1902.[5]

On 3 September 1839 a meeting of 17 gentlemen including physicist Joseph Jackson Lister and the botanists Edwin John Quekett and Richard Kippist,[6] was held at Quekett's residence on Wellclose Square to take into consideration the propriety of forming a society for the promotion of microscopical investigation, and for the introduction and improvement of the microscope as a scientific instrument[1][7][8][9] At this gathering it was agreed that a society should be founded and a committee appointed. It was named the Microscopical Society of London and a constitution was drawn up.[10] On 20 December 1839, a public meeting was held at the Horticultural Society's rooms at 21 Regents Street in London. At the convention, Professor Richard Owen was elected President, along with Nathaniel Ward as Treasurer, and Farre as Secretary.[10] A Council was also appointed, consisting of J.S. Bowerbank, Thomas Edwards, Dr F. Farre, George Gwilt, George Jackson, Dr John Lindley, George Loddiges, the Rev. C. Pritchard, Edwin John Quekett, M.J. Rippingham, Richard Horsman Solly and Robert Warington. With them, forty-five men were enrolled as members.[10]

At its foundation, the Society acquired the best microscopes then obtainable from the three leading makers, Powell & Lealand, Ross, and Smith.[11] The first president of the society was palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen who is best known for coining the word "dinosaur" and for his role in creation London's Natural History Museum.[12] It was renamed the Royal Microscopical Society in 1866, when the Society received its Royal Charter. Its governing documents are its Charter and By-laws.

Meetings, courses and conferences[edit]

Each year the RMS hosts a programme full of meetings, courses and conferences. These events provide opportunities for keeping abreast of the very latest developments and attract speakers of the highest quality and delegates active in all areas of science from forensics to flow cytometry, live cell imaging to SPM.


RMS members come from a wide range of backgrounds — from undergraduates and research students to leaders in their various fields – within the biological & physical sciences.

Benefits of RMS membership include:

  • Subscription to quarterly membership magazine infocus
  • Subsidized subscription rates to Journal of Microscopy
  • Membership of the European Microscopy Society
  • Opportunity to network and socialize with other members at RMS organised events
  • Discounted registration fees to all RMS courses and meetings
  • Inclusion in the RMS membership list giving access to correspondence addresses for all RMS members
  • Receipt of Electronic newsletter "efocus"

After three years of continuous Ordinary Membership, members are invited to become a Fellows of the society after a set number of criteria have been met, which allows for individuals to benefit from voting and election rights as well as the use of the post-nominal letters FRMS after their names.[13]

Honorary Fellows[edit]

Listed below are the Honorary Fellows of the Society of both past and present:[14][15]

Name Election date Notes
HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 1966 Consort of the British monarch
Johan Sebastiaan Ploem 1976
Sir Peter Hirsch 1977
Ewald Weibel 1978
Archie Howie 1978
James V P Long 1981
M Karnovsky 1982
H Hashimoto 1983
K C A Smith 1984
Calvin Quate 1984
Aaron Klug 1985
Sir Eric Ash 1987
Shinya Inoué 1988
Gerd Binnig 1988
P N T Unwin 1989 FRS
Sir John Meurig Thomas 1989 FLSW FRS HonFREng
Brian Ralph 1989
B Clive Cowen 1989
Hellmuth Sitte 1993
M Petran 1994
Tony Wilson 1998
Peter J Evennett 1998
G A D Briggs 2000
M J Whelan 2001
Sumio Iijima 2001
Paul Hirst 2005
Harald Rose 2008
Brad Amos 2010
John Hutchison[disambiguation needed] 2013
Richard Paden 2014
Ernst Stelzer 2014
Michael Sheetz 2014
Helen Saibil 2014
Anne Ridley 2014
Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz 2014
Ondrej Krivanek 2014
Mildred Dresselhaus 2014
Flemming Besenbacher 2014
Barbara Bain 2014
Sir Colin Humphreys 2015 CBE FREng FRS
Leonore Herzenberg 2015
Max Haider 2015
Dirk van Dyck 2015
Xiaowei Zhuang 2015
Petra Schwille 2015
Michael Ormerod 2015
Peter K. Hepler 2015
David Ehrhardt 2015
Chris Hawes 2015
Eric Betzig 2016
Paul Midgley 2016
John Pethica 2016
Anthony Cullis 2016
Brian J. Ford 2017 FLS


Journal of Microscopy[edit]

The Journal of Microscopy provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for publication, discussion and education for scientists and technologists who use any form of microscopy or image analysis.[16] This includes technology and applications in physics, chemistry, material and biological sciences. The Journal publishes review articles, original research papers, short communications, and letters to the Editor, covering all aspects of microscopy.[17] It is published on behalf of the Society by Wiley-Blackwell.[18]

infocus Magazine[edit]

infocus Magazine is the Royal Microscopical Society’s Magazine for Members. It provides a common forum for scientists and technologists from all disciplines which use any form of microscope, including all branches of microscopy and microbeam analysis. infocus features articles on microscopy related topics, techniques and developments, reports on RMS events, book reviews, news and much more. Published four times a year, infocus is free to members of the RMS.

  • Royal Microscopical Society Microscopy Handbooks

Outreach Activities[edit]

The RMS founded the Microscope Activity Kit Scheme in March 2011. This is a free scheme sending fully equipped Kits of microscopes and ready-to-go activities to Primary Schools throughout the United Kingdom for a term at a time. By December 2014, the Kits had gone from 2 to 50 and had been used by over 20,000 children in the UK.[19]

RMS Diploma[edit]

The RMS Diploma, launched in 2012 to replace the former RMS DipTech qualification, aims to help microscopists advance in their careers by improving and refining their skills to gain a distinguished qualification. The Diploma from the Royal Microscopical Society is attained via a flexible portfolio-based course of study that is designed by the candidate with the assistance of their line-manager, and with input from existing Fellows of the Society. This approach ensures that the study is both challenging and rewarding whilst fitting with, and complementing, the candidate's existing employment.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Study Guide - Diploma of the Royal Microscopical Society. Royal Microscopical Society. 2010. p. 2. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Financial history - 241990 - ROYAL MICROSCOPICAL SOCIETY". Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Council". Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "REPORT AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS For the year ended 31 December 2015" (PDF). 31 December 2015. p. 5 (7). Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  5. ^ Gilbert Baker, John (1902). R.G, Hebb, FRCP, ed. "Obituary - Biographical Memoir of A.W. Bennett". Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society: 158. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Notes". Nature. 25 (638): 275–277. 1882. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/025275a0. 
  7. ^ "RMS - History". Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Brewster, Sir David; Taylor, Richard; Phillips, Richard (1839). Brayley, Edward W, ed. "LXXVII - Proceedings of Learned Societies: Microscopial Society". The London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science. No. XV. Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, London: Richard & John E. Taylor. p. 549. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "UCL Bloomsbury Project - Quekett Microscopical Club". Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Turner, Gerald L'E. (1989). God bless the microscope! : a history of the Royal Microscopical Society over 150 years (1st ed.). [Oxford]: Royal Microscopical Society. pp. 7–8. ISBN 9780950246345. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Gerard L'E. Turner. "1839 - Royal Microscopical Society = History of Scholarly Societies". Scholarly Societies Project. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Tony (January 2016). "Introduction" (PDF). Journal of Microscopy - 175th Anniversary Special Issue. No. 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing). 261 (1): 1. ISSN 1365-2818. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "RMS - Membership Benefits". Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  14. ^ "Honourary Fellows". Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Honorary Fellows Past and Present". Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "Journal of Microscopy - All Issues - Wiley Online Library". doi:10.1111/(issn)1365-2818/issues. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  17. ^ "Journal of Microscopy". Royal Microscopical Society (in en_GB). St Clement's Street, Oxford. 12 May 2008. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  18. ^ "Journal of Microscopy". (in en_GB). St Clement's Street, Oxford. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  19. ^ Microscope Activity Kits - Royal Microscopical Society website

External links[edit]