Election to the Academy

The Australian Academy of Science aims to be a leader in diversity and inclusion in Australia’s science sector. We are committed to supporting excellence in science but we recognise that to achieve this we must celebrate and embrace diversity and inclusion in all its forms. 

More about the Academy’s approach to diversity and inclusion

Watch our videos encouraging the nominations of diversity candidates

As only our Fellows can nominate candidates for election to the Academy, we encourage all our Fellows to nominate diversity candidates. To assist us to identify diversity candidates across the nation, each year we invite over 400 leaders in the Australian STEM and tertiary sectors to suggest diversity candidates to us by the end of June at the latest. These candidates are then assessed by Fellows appointed as our ‘Champions of Diversity’ in each area of science. The candidates who have been assessed as suitable for election then have a Fellow chosen who agrees to propose the candidate for election. This involves working closely with the candidate on the nomination, which must be started by 31 July in our online nomination system, with the full nomination submitted by 31 August.

Each year the Academy elects up to 20 new Fellows by ‘Ordinary Election’ and up to four additional Fellows by ‘Special Election’. In May 2019, the Fellowship comprised 543 Fellows, 80 of whom were women.

The Academy’s Council may also elect up to two Corresponding Members each year from among distinguished scientists overseas. There are currently 34 Corresponding Members in the Academy.

Timeline: 2020 election round

Date Activity
By 30 June 2019

Diversity candidates suggested in-confidence to the Fellowship Director by email to fellowship@science.org.au. Please include up to 150 words on the candidate’s contribution to science.

30 June 2019 Online nomination system opens for Fellows only: science.org.au/fellowship-nomination
By 31 July 2019 Fellows of the Academy must have started and saved their new nominations into the online system.
By 31 August 2019 All new nominations (and updates to existing nominations) must be completed and submitted via the online nomination system. 
September 2019 Selection committees, known as ‘sectional committees’, undertake unconscious bias training and then shortlist candidates to progress for further consideration. Additional independent referee reports are requested for those candidates.
Early February 2020 Committees meet to determine the final candidates to recommend to Council. Each committee may recommend up to two candidates if one gender is represented, or three candidates, if both genders are represented. 
Early March 2020 Council considers all the recommended candidates and determines the final list of 20 candidates for the Fellows’ ballot. Two-thirds of the voting Fellows must agree to each candidate’s election.
End of March 2020 Ballot count by Returning Officer and new Fellows declared elected (all Fellows advised under embargo).
End of May 2020 New Fellows publicly announced and formally inducted into the Academy during the week of ‘Science at the Shine Dome’.

Kerrie Mengersen in a canoe on a river, holding a VR headset
Professor Kerrie Mengersen FAA, QUT SEF. Credit: Vanessa Hunter

Eligibility for election

  1. Candidates for Ordinary and Special Election must be Australian citizens or permanent residents in Australia, and have an attachment to an Australian research organisation. For recent arrivals to Australia, who are not Australian citizens, candidates should be a resident for the two years preceding the date of the election meeting in early February and contributing to Australian science.
  2. Candidates for Corresponding Membership shall be persons, not normally resident in Australia, who are eminent in some branch of natural knowledge.

Criteria for Ordinary Election 

  1. Scientific achievement: (This dimension focuses on the candidate’s research). Scientific excellence is based on either a single ground-breaking contribution to science, OR a cohesive body of smaller contributions with clear impact.
    Indicators of impact may include but are not limited to: ground-breaking publications; citation of those publications; ‘textbook’ science; patents; significant impact on practice or translation of the research; or other indicators relative to the standards for each discipline. (At least 60% weighting).
  2. National and international profile: (This dimension focuses on how others have responded to the candidate’s collective achievements). 
    Indicators include: invitations to speak; grants and Fellowships; journal editorships; honours, awards and prizes; membership of prestigious organisations or committees; and supportive letters from referees. (Up to 20% weighting).
  3. Leadership, mentorship, promotion of science and potential to advance the work of the Academy: (This dimension focuses on what the candidate has done other than their own research). 
    Indicators include: executive and leadership roles; conference organisation; high-level peer review functions; science education, outreach, advocacy and/or policy development; successful mentorship of the next generation of scientists; other contributions to the discipline. (Up to 20% weighting).


Professor Graham Farquhar AO FAA FRS, Professor Tanya Monro FAA FTSE and Professor Jagadish AC FAA FTSE

The Academy is committed to celebrating and supporting diversity within the Fellowship. Achievement is judged relative to opportunity, taking into account any breaks in, or late commencement of, career. Assessment is done in such a way as to not disadvantage gifted young scientists who have already made outstanding contributions to their discipline. Gender balance and diversity issues (including age; ethnicity; state and region of residence; emerging disciplines; and interdisciplinary science) within the Fellowship will be further taken into-account by Council in considering the final list of candidates.

Criteria for Special Election

Each year the Council may deem it desirable that the Academy elect to Fellowship up to four persons, whose election would expand the diversity of the Fellowship and be of signal benefit to the Academy and to the advancement of science.

Special election candidates will be assessed using the following indicators of merit:

  1. Evidence of sustained service to the cause of science and science leadership, including mentorship, at the highest level and/or evidence of innovation or entrepreneurial spirit through the translation of the results of scientific research that have led to global impact. (50%)
  2. Evidence of very high national and/or international profile, including supportive letters of reference from eminent referees. (30%)
  3. Potential to advance the work of the Academy in science education, advocacy, policy or international engagement. (20%)

Criteria for Corresponding Membership

  1. The primary selection criterion is scientific excellence through EITHER a single ground-breaking contribution to science, OR a cohesive body of smaller contributions with clear impact, as indicated by but not limited to: ground-breaking publications, citation of those publications, ‘textbook’ science, patents, major impact on practice or translation of the research, or other indicators relative to the standards for each discipline. (50%)
  2. Extremely high international research profile, including supportive letters of reference from eminent referees. (30%)
  3. Strength of connection or strategic value to Australian science including potential to advance the work of the Academy in science education, advocacy or policy. (20%)

Nomination for Fellowship


Professor Geordie Williamson FAA FRS

Fellows nominate candidates via the Academy’s nomination system. Information required includes:

  • signed agreement from the candidate to nomination
  • short citation
  • support from at least four Fellows
  • extended citation against the selection criteria
  • full curriculum vitae
  • list of most significant publications
  • full publication list
  • referees willing to support the nomination

A nomination is valid for five consecutive election rounds/years or until the candidate is elected. Proposers MUST update the nominations for their continuing candidates every year for the life of the nomination. After the nomination has expired, and following a pause of two election rounds (two years), a new nomination for that candidate may be submitted.

Please refer to the ‘Information to Complete an Online Fellowship Nomination—2019 Election Round’ for further details. Please be aware this document will be updated for the 2020 election round (when the round opens on 30 June) and should be used as a general guide only, as there will be some changes.

Questions regarding the nomination process (including the eligibility of a candidate or suitability of a referee) may be directed to the Fellowship Director, Karen Holt, by email to fellowship@science.org.au.

Videos encouraging diversity candidates

You are welcome to share and embed our videos encouraging the nomination of diversity candidates for Fellowship and awards.

© 2019 Australian Academy of Science

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