Election to the Academy

The Academy elects up to 20 new Fellows by ‘Ordinary’ election each year through a rigorous process conducted over many months. The Academy also elects up to four additional Fellows by ‘Special Election’ each year (except in milestone anniversary years when up to three may be elected).

The Council may also elect up to two Corresponding Members each year from among distinguished scientists overseas.

Following the election of new Fellows in March 2018, there are 570 Fellows (including 33 Corresponding Members) in the Academy.

Timeline: 2019 Election Round

Date Activity
By 20 July 2018 Fellows of the Academy must commence and save new nominations for their candidates into the online nomination system.
By 31 August 2018 All new nominations (and updates to existing nominations) must be completed and submitted via the online nominatiuon system. Candidates allocated to Sectional Committees.
September 2018 Committees shortlist candidates to progress for further consideration and additional independent referees reports requested for those candidates.
Early February 2019 The Sectional Committees meet to evaluate the candidates to recommend up to three candidates each to the Council.
Early March 2019 Council considers all the recommended candidates and votes to determine 20 candidates for the Fellows’ ballot.
Early March 2019 Fellows’ election ballot - two-thirds of the voting Fellows must agree to each candidate’s election.
End of March 2019 Ballot count by Returning Officer and new Fellows declared elected (all Fellows advised under embargo).
End of May 2019 New Fellows publically announced and formally inducted into the Academy during the ‘Science at the Shine Dome’ week.

Eligibility for Ordinary Election

Candidates must be resident in Australia. They must be a legal resident, or have an employment arrangement in Australia on a regular basis for at least half of the year. For the case of recent arrivals to Australia, the convention is for the candidate to be resident for two years by the date of election, and contributing to Australian science.

Criteria for Ordinary Election

The PRIMARY SELECTION CRITERION IS SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE, based on the following indicators of merit:

  • EITHER a single ground-breaking discovery/contribution to science, OR a cohesive body of smaller contributions with clear impact;
  • Evidence of sustained achievement, relative to opportunity;
  • Evidence of impact in the form of ground-breaking publications, citation of those publications, ‘textbook’ science, patents, improved policy or practice, or other indicators, relative to the standards for each discipline;
  • Evidence for high national and international profile;
  • Evidence of leadership, including mentorship; and
  • Consistently supportive letters of reference from eminent referees, including Academicians.

Achievement is judged relative to opportunity, taking into account any breaks in, or late commencement of, career.

In addition, consideration is also given to the following SECONDARY SELECTION CRITERIA:

  • potential to advance the work of the Academy in science education, advocacy or policy and;
  • gender balance and diversity issues within the Fellowship (including: age; ethnicity; State and region of residence; institution; emerging disciplines; and interdisciplinary candidates).

Nomination Process

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

  • Short citation;
  • Support from at least four Fellows;
  • Extended citation against the selection criteria;
  • Full curriculum vitae;
  • List of up to twenty most significant publications;
  • Full publication list and
  • 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.

Sectional Committees

The disciplines assigned to the various Sectional Committees are determined by Council. There is also a Sectional Committee to consider the Corresponding Member and Special Election candidates.

A-Side (Physical Sciences)

  • SC1 - Mathematical Sciences
  • SC2 – Physics and Astronomy
  • SC3 – Chemistry
  • SC4 – Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • SC5 – Applied Physical and Engineering Sciences
  • SC11 - Information, Communication and Quantum Information Sciences

B-Side (Biological Sciences)

  • SC6 – Plant Sciences
  • SC7 – Physiology, Neuroscience, Animal Behaviour and Experimental Psychology
  • SC8 – Molecular and Cell Biology
  • SC9 – Agriculture, Veterinary Science and Applied Biology
  • SC10 – Ecology, Environmental Sciences and Evolutionary Biology
  • SC12 – Medicine and Public Health
  • SC13 – Immunology and Microbiology

SC14 – Interdisciplinary (A side and B side)

CMSE - Corresponding Member and Special Election Committee (CMSE)

Allocation of Candidates to Sectional Committees

Candidates are allocated to Sectional Committees by The Secretaries - that is, Secretary A (Physical Sciences) and Secretary B (Biological Sciences) - taking into account the advice of the Proposer and in consultation with Sectional Committee Chairs when they consider it necessary. Almost all candidates are allocated for consideration by a single Committee.

Inter-disciplinary candidates, however, that require consideration by two Sectional Committees within A-Side (Physical Sciences) or B-Side (Biological Sciences) will be allocated to two Sectional Committees for consideration, with one Sectional Committee initially identified as the ‘primary’ Committee.

Inter-disciplinary candidates that cross A-Side and B-Side, and candidates requiring consideration by more than two Sectional Committees (with A-side and B-side) will be allocated to the Inter-disciplinary Sectional Committee.

Referee Reports

Nominations must be supported by up to six letters of evaluation from reputable referees, who should comment on the wider impact of the candidate’s work on his/her scientific discipline. At least four of the referees will be eminent scientists overseas who are, where possible, preferably members of their country’s equivalent Academy. Referees suggested from Australia should normally be Fellows of the Academy. Reports are automatically requested when nominations are submitted into the online nomination system.


At its meeting in March, Council will consider all the short-listed candidates recommended by the Sectional Committees and determine up to 20 candidates to propose to the Fellowship for election.

Council will be guided by the principle that in any year there should be a balance between the Physical and Biological sciences.

Special Election Fellows

From the 2019 election round, the Academy may elect to the Fellowship each year up to four persons, normally resident in Australia, who have rendered conspicuous service to the cause of science or whose election would be of signal benefit to the Academy and the advancement of science.

According to the Academy's Bye-Laws (Chapter II, Section 10):

“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. Specially elected Fellows will have: 

  • rendered conspicuous service to the cause of science, OR
  • demonstrated outstanding innovation or entrepreneurial spirit through the translation of the results of scientific research that have led to global impact.”

Corresponding Members

According to the Academy’s Bye-Laws (Chapter II, Section 11) ‘the Council from time to time by resolution may elect as a Corresponding Member of the Academy a person who in its opinion is eminent in respect of scientific discoveries and attainments but is not normally resident in Australia’.

Candidates for election as Corresponding Members must be persons of eminence in their special field(s) of endeavour. The minimum level of eminence required should be such that they would unquestionably be elected to the Fellowship by Ordinary Election if they were resident and active in Australia. It would also normally be expected that candidates have been elected to bodies in their country of residence, equivalent in standing to the Academy.

The Council may elect not more than two Corresponding members each year provided that it does not make the number of Corresponding Members exceed one-tenth of the number of Fellows.  

In considering candidates for Corresponding Membership, the Council shall take account of the strength of each candidate’s connection or strategic value to Australian science.  

The Council will give consideration to diversity as well as the potential future connection of candidates with Australian science and their contributions to science which may be of benefit or strategic value to Australia. Candidates should also demonstrate a commitment to promotion and dissemination of scientific knowledge and to advancing the work of the Academy in science education, advocacy or policy. 

© 2018 Australian Academy of Science