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Nominator's Guide

Thank you for your interest in nominating a colleague for Fellow. We know that submitting an effective nomination can seem like a challenge, so we have created this guide to assist you.

Please remember that the nominee should not participate in the nomination process, and in particular, should not ask to be nominated. To maintain confidentiality, the necessary facts should only be obtained from the nominee if the information is not available elsewhere.

Important Update: Effective 12 February 2024, the nomination and reference deadlines have changed.

NEW Deadlines:
Nominations: 15 May 15 June
References: 25 May 25 June

Access the submission site.

If you need additional assistance please contact the Awards Office at

  • Only current Fellow members can submit nominations
  • Any current member who has served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics may be nominated for Fellow
    • There is no length-of-membership requirement
    • Nominees do not need to be Senior Members
    • Nominees that support diversity across all areas including gender, educational/institutional background and geography are especially encouraged
    • Nominations of colleagues from outside your home institution are encouraged
  • Anyone can serve as a reference
    • At least one (1) reference must be a current Fellow Member
    • There is no membership requirement for the other three (3) references
    • Diversity of support is preferred
    • It is recommended that only one (1) reference be from the same institution as the nominee
    • Nominators cannot also be a reference
Nomination Materials

All nomination materials are submitted online through BEAM. Any documents must be uploaded as PDF files. The following is needed for a nomination:

  1. Nominee’s name, affiliation, and primary email address.*
  2. A concise (~20 word) citation that highlights the nominee’s contributions.*
  3. One (1) page narrative/statement of support that outlines why this nominee should be elected Fellow. The narrative should clearly describe the impact of the nominee’s contributions and how they support the nomination category(ies).
  4.  Supporting documents, must be 10 pages or less in total:
    • Current CV/resume (required).
    • Optional, additional information could include: patents, publications, relevant activities, etc. It’s recommended that you note/highlight the patents and publications that are most relevant.  Please note that additional references or letters of support should not be included. Any such documents will be removed during the Quality Check process.
  5. The Technical Division that best fits the nominee's work.*
  6. Nomination category(ies) that best match the nominee's most significant contributions.* One, primary category is required but you can also select an optional secondary nomination category.
  7. Four (4) references.* At least one (1) reference must be a current Fellow Member. Important – be sure you have asked the references to participate before you add them to BEAM. Once a reference has been added they will immediately receive an email with instructions for submitting their reference, even if you have not completed/submitted the nomination.

* This information is all entered directly into BEAM.

If you have any difficulty using BEAM, please contact us at

Nomination Do's and Don'ts

The Fellow nomination process is competitive and the quality of the nomination matters!


  1. Include the nominee in the submission process!
  2. Forget to check for spelling errors, typos and grammatical errors.
  3. Just cut & paste from the CV/resume. Write a narrative that describes the candidate and their unique and outstanding contributions.
  4. Submit more than 10-pages of support materials.
  5. Include letters of support or references in the supporting materials. Any such documents will be removed during the Quality Check process.
  6. Assume that the reviewer knows your candidate well.
  7. Use generalizations.
  8. Just say your nominee is outstanding – prove it!
  1. Communicate with your references! Confirm that they are willing to be a reference, and will be enthusiastic about your nominee before you add them to the system.
  2. Make the narrative clear and easy to read. Consider using bullet points and section headers.

  3. Give specific examples that explain the impact of the nominee’s work, with special emphasis on the nomination category(ies).

  4. Proofread your material for typos and mistakes.

  5. Include qualitative and quantitative facts, statistics, metrics, etc.

  6. Avoid providing an extended resume, job description or list of appointments/posts.

  7. Tell a story about the nominee and demonstrate why they are outstanding and should be a Fellow.

Timeline and Evaluation Process

May 15 June 15 – Nominations due
May 25 June 25 – References due
June – August – Fellow Members Committee review period
September / October – Approval of Fellows by the Awards Council & Board of Directors
October / November – Nominator and elected Fellow notifications

Fellow nominations are reviewed by the Fellow Members Committee, which submits a report, with a list of recommended Fellows, to the Awards Council for approval. Following approval by the Awards Council, the Board of Directors reviews and approves the list of recommended Fellows.

The total number of Fellows is limited by the society's bylaws to be no more than 10% of the total Membership and the number elected each year is limited to approximately 0.5% of the previous year’s membership total. About 50% of nominations are successful each year and roughly 250 nominations are reviewed each year.

The Fellow Members Committee evaluates a nominee with specific regard to the nomination category(ies), as each category emphasizes different types of contributions.

The following criteria is considered when evaluating nominations; however no individual is expected to meet all of them. Each nominee is rated numerically on the basis of this information. Overall, the impact of the nominee’s achievements will be evaluated.

  1. Evidence of scientific, technical or engineering accomplishments.
  2. Significant inventions, discoveries or advances in optics and photonics.
  3. Substantial innovation, creativity, development, advancement or application of science and technology.
  4. Exceptional career as an educator or significant contributions to education.
  5. Sustained and substantial leadership to the society or service to the global community, including industry.
  6. Entrepreneurial or business leadership critical in the development or growth of a segment of the optics and photonics industry.
  7. Record of important publications related to optics or photonics.
  8. Record of significant patents related to optics or photonics.
  9. Excellence in product development, advancement in systems, application or operation, project management, process development, or other application of technology.
  10. Outstanding engineering application or scientific accomplishments resulting from a managerial, team, or company-wide effort.
  11. Confidential opinions of references.

Each member of the Fellow Members Committee reviews ~ 60 nominations and each nomination has at least five reviewers. While the primary assessment of a nominee is based on criteria appropriate for the category of nomination, other contributions are also taken into account to achieve a more holistic evaluation of the nominee’s contributions. As far as possible, nominees are matched to Committee Members based on Technical Division selections.

Committee Members initially evaluate candidates using a numerical score. Awards staff and the Committee Chair review the results (total score, average score and standard deviation) and develop a proposal for next steps. The next steps and scores are discussed on a conference call. Typically, the full Committee will review/re-review and score a small selection of nominees. At any point in the review process, a Committee Member may request that a candidate’s status be reconsidered. The full Committee confirms the list of recommended Fellows before the list is submitted to the Awards Council.

Nominations are automatically considered for three consecutive review cycles. No action or changes are required from the nominator or references. However, it is recommended that the nominator and references update their documents to make sure the information is current. Reviewing our tips for an effective narrative is also recommended. A nomination is retired after review by three (3) Committees, but a new nomination may be submitted.

Nominators who would like additional assistance should contact the Awards Office at

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