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A fellow is a member of an academy/learned society or a group of learned subjects (a fellowship) which works together in pursuing mutual knowledge or practice. [1] There are many different kinds of fellowships which are awarded for different reasons in academia and industry. These often indicate a different level of scholarship.


Education and academia

In education and academia there are several kinds of fellowships, awarded for different reasons.

Teaching fellowships

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. [2]

Medical fellowships

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.).

Research fellowships

As an academic position

The title of research fellow may be used to denote an academic position at a university or a similar institution; it is roughly equivalent to the title of lecturer in the teaching career pathway.[ citation needed ]

As a financial grant

Research fellow may also refer to the recipient of academic financial grant or scholarship. For example, in Germany, institutions such as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation offer research fellowship for postdoctoral research and refer to the holder as research fellows, while the award holder may formally hold a specific academic title at their home institution (e.g., Privatdozent ). [3]

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. [4] [5] [6] [7] )

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 [8] and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). [9] At ETH Zurich, postdoctoral fellowships support incoming researchers. [10] The MacArthur Fellows Program (aka "genius grant") as prestigious research fellowship awarded in the United States.

Fellowships as a training program

Fellowships may involve a short placement for capacity building, [11] [12] e.g., to get more experience in government, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science's fellowships [13] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellowship programs. Some institutions offer fellowships as a professional training program as well as a financial grant, such as the Balsillie School of International Affairs, where tuition and other fees are paid by the fellowship.

Fellowships as a special membership grade

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). Additional grades of membership exist in, for example, the IEEE and the ACM.

Fellowships of this type can be awarded as a title of honor in their own right, e.g. the Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS). Exclusive learned societies such as the Royal Society have Fellow as the only grade of membership.

Appointment as an honorary fellow in a learned or professional society can be either to honour exceptional achievement 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.

How a fellowship is awarded varies for each society, but may typically involve some or all of these:

In ancient universities

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[ citation needed ]. 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.[ citation needed ] 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.

Some senior administrators of a college such as bursars are made fellows, and thereby become members of the governing body, because of their importance to the running of a college[ citation needed ].

In the U.S.

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[ citation needed ].

Industry and corporate fellows

In industries intensive in science, medicine, and research & development, companies may appoint a very small number of top senior researchers as corporate, technical or industry fellows, either in Science or in Engineering. These are internationally recognized leaders who are among the best in the world in their respective fields. [14] [15] [16]

Corporate, Technical or Industry Fellow in either Science or Engineering is the most senior rank or title one can achieve in a scientific or engineering career, though fellows often also hold business titles such as Vice President [17] [18] or Chief Technology Officer. [19] [20]

Notable examples of fellows in scientific, medical and other research-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) [21] 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.

See also

Related Research Articles

A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline, profession, or a group of related disciplines such as the arts and science. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honour conferred by election.

Royal Society of Canada academy in Canada

The Royal Society of Canada, also known as the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada, is the senior national, bilingual council of distinguished Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists. The primary objective of the RSC is to promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the sciences. The RSC is Canada's National Academy and exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both official languages, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.

Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles or designatory letters, are letters placed after a person's name to indicate that the individual holds a position, academic degree, accreditation, office, military decoration, or honour, or is a member of a religious institute or fraternity. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters, but in some contexts it may be customary to limit the number of sets to one or just a few. The order in which post-nominals are listed after a name is based on rules of precedence and what is appropriate for a given situation. Post-nominal letters are one of the main types of name suffix. In contrast, pre-nominal letters precede the name rather than following it.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted by the judges of the Royal Society of London to individuals who have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

A licentiate is a degree below that of a PhD given by universities in some countries. In others, for example almost all countries in the European Union, a licentiate is a 3 to 4 years degree, equivalent to a bachelor's degree. The term is also used for a person who holds this degree. The term derives from Latin licentia, "freedom", which is applied in the phrases licentia docendi meaning permission to teach and licentia ad practicandum signifying someone who holds a certificate of competence to practise a profession. Many countries have degrees with this title, but they may represent different educational levels.

The Institute of Biology (IoB) was a professional body for biologists, primarily those working in the United Kingdom. The Institute was founded in 1950 by the Biological Council: the then umbrella body for Britain's many learned biological societies. Its individual membership quickly grew; in the late 1990s it was as high as 16,000 but declined in the early 21st century to 11,000. It received a Royal Charter in 1979 and it held charitable status. The IoB was not a trade union, nor did it have the regulatory power over its membership although it did have the right to remove a member's Chartered status and was empowered by its Royal Charter to represent Britain's profession of biology. In October 2009, the IoB was merged with the Biosciences Federation (BSF) to form the Society of Biology, which has around 14,000 individual members and over 90 member organisations. In May 2015, the Society was granted permission to become the Royal Society of Biology.

Sir Peter James Donnelly is an Australian mathematician and Professor of Statistical Science at the University of Oxford, and the CEO of Genomics PLC. He is a specialist in applied probability and has made contributions to coalescent theory. His research group at Oxford has an international reputation for the development of statistical methodology to analyze genetic data.

Geraint Rees neurologist

Geraint Ellis Rees FMedSci is Dean of the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences, UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (AI) and a Professor of Cognitive Neurology at University College London. He is also a Director of UCL Business and a trustee of the charities the Guarantors of Brain and in2science

The Chartered College of Teaching is the recognised professional body for the teaching profession in the United Kingdom. The college was founded in 1846 and was incorporated by royal charter as The College of Preceptors in 1849. A supplemental charter was granted in 1998 changing the College's name to The College of Teachers. A further supplemental charter granted in 2017 changed the college's name to The Chartered College of Teaching, updated its objects and gave it the right to award the professional status of Chartered Teacher (CTeach). The college's patron is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

John "Shôn" Eirwyn Ffowcs Williams, is Emeritus Rank Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a former Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1996–2002). He may be best known for his contributions to Aeroacoustics, in particular for his work on Concorde. Together with one of his students, David Hawkings, he introduced the far-field integration method in computational aeroacoustics based on Lighthill's acoustic analogy, known as the Ffowcs Williams-Hawkings analogy.

Anne Cooke, is a British biologist and academic, specialising in immunology and autoimmune diseases. From 2000 to 2013, she was Professor of Immunobiology at the University of Cambridge. She was a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge between 1992 and 2013.

A research fellow is an academic research position at a university or a similar research institution, usually for academic staff or faculty members. A research fellow may act either as an independent investigator or under the supervision of a principal investigator.

Newton International Fellowship postdoctoral research fellowship in the UK for a non-UK scientist

The Newton International Fellowship, named after Sir Isaac Newton, is an international postdoctoral award for selected foreign academics to carry out research at institutions in the United Kingdom.

Andrea Hilary Brand is the Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology and a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. She heads a lab investigating nervous system development at the Gurdon Institute and the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. She developed the GAL4/UAS system with Norbert Perrimon which has been described as “a fly geneticist's Swiss army knife”.

Kamaljit S. Bawa Conservation Biologist

Kamaljit Singh Bawa, FRS is an evolutionary ecologist, conservation biologist and a distinguished professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is also the founder of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE). In 2012, Bawa received the first Gunnerus Sustainability Award, the world's major international award for work on sustainability. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2019.

Tilli Tansey medical historian

Elizabeth M. Tansey is an Emerita Professor of the history of medicine and former neurochemist, best known for her role in the Wellcome Trust's witness seminars. She previously worked at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Sophie Scott British neuroscientist

Sophie Kerttu Scott is a British neuroscientist and Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at University College London (UCL). Her research investigates the cognitive neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter particularly speech perception, speech production, vocal emotions and human communication. She also serves as deputy director of UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

John L. Wood

John L. Wood is a Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas Scholar; and Associate Editor for the Americas, Tetrahedron Letters at Baylor University.

E. Yvonne Jones Director of the Cancer Research UK Receptor Structure Research Group

(Edith) Yvonne Jones is director of the Cancer Research UK Receptor Structure Research Group at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. She is widely known for her research on the molecular biology of cell surface receptors and signalling complexes.


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