RMS Honorary Fellows

The process through which the Society admits new Honorary Fellows is designed to reflect the prestigious nature of the Fellowship, and to ensure that only those candidates who have made the most outstanding contributions to microscopy or related branches of science can be considered for the honour.

New nominations for potential Honorary Fellows need to be submitted by a current RMS member. The nominator should submit to RMS Chief Executive Allison Winton a copy of the nominee’s CV, including a full list of their publications, 10 selected ‘top’ publications, and a 500-word summary of their contributions to research involving microscopy. A supporting letter, signed by five other RMS members, should also be submitted by the nominator.

The proposal is then put before the RMS Council, which has absolute discretion in approving or rejecting the nomination.

The Society's By-Laws previously limited the number of Honorary Fellowships to a maximum of 65 at any one time. However, a proposal to enable new Fellowships to be awarded beyond this figure was approved at the 2019 AGM, and subsequently by the Privy Council.

Current Honorary Fellows

Click on each name to view the reasons for their nomination:

  • Professor George D. W. Smith, Hon FRMS
    • Professor George D.W. Smith, Hon FRMS

      Professor George Smith is an internationally-recognised pioneer in atom probe field-ion microscopy. His contributions to the fields of Microscopy, Metallurgy, and Materials Science have extended over 50 years, leading to paradigm-shifting developments in both our scientific understanding of materials and in microstructural characterisation at the atomic scale.

      A Fellow of the Royal Society and numerous other UK and international scientific societies, Professor Smith is also the recipient of numerous prestigious international scientific and engineering awards.

      George’s early research using field-ion microscopy provided fundamental understanding of atomic-scale structures, as well as the correlation of nano-scale microstructure with the behaviour of materials - both in terms of transformation behaviour and precipitation phenomena in metallic materials.  His extensive knowledge, expertise and his leadership in metallurgy/materials science and atom probe microanalysis resulted in the formation of prolific and extensive research programs studying phase transformations in alloys, segregation phenomena, irradiation damage, oxidation, semiconductors, metal matrix composites, and nanostructured materials.

      Under Professor Smith’s guidance and direction, the Oxford Group made major advances in atom probe analysis – both in the technique and in data quantification/analysis – which impacted the assessment of complex microstructures.

      His visionary leadership is especially noteworthy in the development, with Professor Alfred Cerezo and Mr Terence Godfrey, of the first 3-Dimensional Atom Probe: the Position Sensitive Atom Probe (also known as the “PoSAP”) and the subsequent improvements resulting in the Energy Compensated Optical Position Sensitive Atom Probe. This scientific break-through

      revolutionised the atom probe technique for atomic scale microanalysis and earned the team numerous awards - including the prestigious International R&D 100 Award for outstanding inventions.

      In addition to his superlative research accomplishments Professor Smith is renowned as an outstanding educator and mentor, maintaining the highest ethical standards, and the highest regard for his students and colleagues

  • Professor Peter D. Nellist HON FRMS
    • Professor Peter D. Nellist

      Professor Nellist is a materials scientist who has pioneered new techniques for atomic-resolutionmicroscopy.

      Viewing the arrangement of atoms in materials, and in particular at defects in crystals, is a key tool for explaining the properties of materials enabling the development of new materials.

      Professor Nellist’s work has focused on scanning transmission electron microscopy and its application across a range of functional and structural materials. He is known for the practical implementation of electron ptychography which allows light elements to be detected while reducing beam-induced damage, and to the theory underlying quantitative image interpretation.

      He has made fundamental contributions to the development of correctors for the inherent aberrations of electron lenses and their use for the three-dimensional imaging of materials. Professor Nellist is a Fellow and former President of the Royal Microscopical Society, a former board member of the European Microscopy Society and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

      He has been awarded the Burton Medal of the Microscopy Society of America and the Ernst Ruska Prize of the German Electron Microscopy Society. He also develops activities aiming to widen participation in science and promoting progression from schools to higher education.

    • Professor Knut Urban, Hon FRMS

      A true giant in his field, Professor Urban’s name will be forever associated with ForschungszentrumJülich, which under his leadership, first as Director of the Institute for Microstructure Research and then as inaugural co-director of the Ernst Ruska Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons, has become one of the most influential and important centres for electron microscopy in the world.

      Prof. Urban’s accomplishments as a metallurgist, materials scientist and as an electron microscopy visionary, have been widely recognised by numerous prestigious national and international awards such as the Materials Research Society’s von Hippel Award or the Wolf Prize in Physics.

      Perhaps most notably he recently shared the 2020 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience with microscopy pioneers Profs. Rose, Haider and Krivanek, all three RMS Honorary Fellows themselves, for “sub-ångström resolution imaging and chemical analysis using electron beams”. This recognition helped once more to shine a spotlight on the field of electron microscopy and its contribution to modern science. It is indeed his leadership in TEM, and his tireless advocation for and provision of the exceptional research environment at FZ Jülich that would make the development and implementation of aberration correction in the transmission electron microscope possible.

      Professor Urban went on to oversee further methodological and technical breakthroughs in the field, such as the negative Cs imaging technique, now widely used by scientists worldwide.

    • Dr Anne E. Carpenter

      Dr Carpenter is an Institute Scientist at the Broad Institute. She has made an exceptional contribution to the field of microscopy, notably in the development of open-source tools and resources for image analysis and continued support of the microscopy image analysis community.

      Dr Carpenter is the inventor-creator of CellProfiler, the open-source software platform for high-throughput biological-image analysis. This is now the gold-standard resource for analysis of cell-based high-throughput imaging experiments and high content analysis. As of September 2020 CellProfiler has been cited in over 9,200 scientific publications.

      Dr Carpenter was an early pioneer of image-based profiling related to gene expression profiling but using microscopy images as the data source. Her lab were co-inventors of the Cell Painting assay, which is now widely used for this purpose. She also organises and maintains the Broad Bioimage Benchmark Collection, which is a collection of freely downloadable microscopy image sets that have been used in over 200 studies thus far. She is also a co-creator of the Scientific Community Image Forum – a public discussion forum for all questions relating to image analysis.

      Dr Carpenter is an inspirational and highly-regarded educational speaker, presenting at international scientific workshops and meetings, contributing to online programmes such as the iBiology series, and at local schools and colleges.

      Since establishing herself as an independent scientist, she has also supervised more than 40 postdoctoral staff and 20 graduate research students, many of whom have become independent faculty or group leaders in industry.

      Dr Carpenter has been awarded numerous honours, fellowships, and research grants from the National Institute for Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Human Frontiers in Science Programme, and collaborates extensively to accelerate the use of images in the pharmaceutical industry.

      Her commitment to providing researchers with useful software and creating supportive environments for those who wish to learn more about image analysis embodies the spirit of the Royal Microscopical Society’s aims to further the science of microscopy and to provide help to the community.

  • Professor Mervyn Miles FRS, FInstP, Cphys, Hon FRMS
    • Professor Mervyn Miles FRS, FInstP, Cphys, Hon FRMS

      Mervyn Miles is currently Emeritus Professor of Physics, School of Physics, University of Bristol and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was one of the UK pioneers of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and in particular its development and application to biological systems. In the mid-1980s he was one of the first researchers to apply scanning tunnelling microscopy to protein imaging. He went on to apply atomic force microscopy (AFM) to a range of biological systems, first at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, and then, from 1990 in Bristol. On moving to Bristol, he started to work on development of SPM techniques, first scanning near field optical microscopy, and then AFM. After developing liquid Q-control, a method for enhancing force sensitivity for biological imagine, he went on to pioneer high speed AFM. This is one of the major roadblocks in the applicability of AFM, both for following processes and for rapid surface analysis and industrial applications, and the Miles group has been one of the two leading groups in this field in the world (the other being that of Prof Toshio Ando, Kanazawa University, Japan). The approaches taken by Mervyn elegantly side-stepped some of the traditional barriers to high-speed scanning, and are just now, fifteen years later, starting to be incorporated into commercial laboratory machines. 

  • Professor C Barry Carter Hon FRMS
    • Professor C. Barry Carter, Hon FRMS

      In a research career spanning the last 50 years, Barry has made a huge impact in materials science - especially in advancing our understanding of the role and nature of defects in metals, semiconductors and ceramics.

      Using various techniques including transmission electron microscopy, high resolution TEM, and electron diffraction, Barry has established himself as an internationally distinguished researcher who has made critical contributions to both the science and application of microscopy.

      Barry, who remains an active Emeritus Professor at the University of Connecticut, and as a Distinguished Affliliate Scientist at the Sandia National Laboratory, has also made vital contributions to microscopy education at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.

    • Professor David B Williams, Hon FRMS

      Professor Williams is synonymous with Analytical Transmission Electron Microscopy (ATEM) having pioneered its development and applications to a broad range of materials.

      Over the past 45 years his work has led to a new understanding of materials and microstructural evolution, including segregation, precipitation phenomena, phase diagrams and phase transformations in metals and alloys.

      Among his achievements, Professor Williams is widely recognized for his prolific research in Al alloy metallurgy – particularly in his pioneering research into Al-Li alloys, as well as fundamental research in EELS and STEM-EDX microanalysis.

      David is currently Executive Dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University.

  • Dame Professor Pratibha Gai FRS Hon FRMS
    • Dame Professor Pratibha Gai FRS Hon FRMS

      Dame Pratibha Gai is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the use of environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM) particularly with application to catalysts.  She has published over 300 refereed scientific papers in leading journals and 9 co-authored and edited books and journal issues and numerous invited lectures globally. 

      Her awards include the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science award as the 2013 Laureate for Europe, and the Institute of Physics 2010 Gabor Medal and Prize for in-situ atomic resolution-environmental transmission electron microscopy (ETEM).  She is Fellow of Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).  She was appointed a Dame (DBE) in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to chemical sciences and technology.

  • Professor Joachim Frank Hon FRMS
    • Professor Joachim Frank Hon FRMS

      He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017, for his contribution to solving structures by cryoEM and single particle image processing, for his particular contribution of image processing to this technique.

Honorary Fellowships Awarded in 2017
  • Professor Lawrence Michael Brown FRS Hon FRMS
    • Professor Lawrence Michael Brown FRS Hon FRMS

      For his pioneering work on the quantitative applications of electron microscopy to the measurement of strain fields at precipitates and dislocations, and the study of energetics and growth kinetics of damage clusters in irradiated materials. In addition, his work on the application of transmission electron microscopy and notably scanning TEM (STEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) to metals, diamond, nuclear materials and semiconductors.

  • Professor Stefan W Hell Hon FRMS
    • Professor Stefan W Hell Hon FRMS

      His extraordinary contributions to the field of Light microscopy, leading to the development of the first commercial STED microscope in 2006. He received a Nobel Prize for ‘the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy’ in 2014.

  • Professor Dr Wolfgang Baumeister Hon FRMS
    • Professor Dr Wolfgang Baumeister Hon FRMS

      For pioneering the development of cryo-electron tomography and his seminal contributions to our understanding of the structure and function of the cellular machinery of protein degradation, in particular the proteasome.

  • Dr Frances Ross Hon FRMS
    • Dr Frances Ross Hon FRMS

      For the development of new electron microscopy methodologies, and the application of electron microscopy to further the understanding of semiconductor nanostructures and functional nanomaterials. Frances has pioneered the development of electron microscopy in liquid environments, developing novel liquid cells for TEM.

  • Professor Bridget Carragher Hon FRMS
    • Professor Bridget Carragher Hon FRMS

      For her work as one of the leaders of the “Resolution Revolution” in the Cryo EM field. She has been one of the early adapters of the Direct Electron Detectors and as part of NRAMM worked on the development of Leginon, an automated software for image acquisition of cryo EM images. 

  • Professor Brian J Ford Hon FRMS
    • Professor Brian J Ford Hon FRMS

      For his significant contribution to the field and to the popularisation of microscopy and biology. His work in plant physiology on plant secretion gave rise to the new science of phytoremediation. He has published on the microscopy of forged photographs, food science, microbiology, forensic analysis, and cell microscopy and blood coagulation. 

  • Professor Anthony Cullis Hon FRMS
    • Professor Anthony Cullis Hon FRMS

      For his pioneering experimental work on the properties on nan-structured semiconducting materials, determined primarily by the combined use of various transmission electron microscopy techniques.

  • Professor Sir John Pethica FRS Hon FRMS
    • Professor Sir John Pethica FRS Hon FRMS

      After introducing the concept of forces acting between the tip and surface in scanning tunnelling microscopy, leading directly to Binnig’s invention of AFM, he has made many influential discoveries in this field, including the implementation of a novel AFM using sub-A modulation, allowing force gradients to be imaged directly with atomic resolution and to obtain mechanical characterisation of individual chemical bonds.

  • Professor Paul Midgley Hon FRMS
    • Professor Paul Midgley Hon FRMS

      For his pioneering use of electron tomography beyond the nanometre scale, establishing the technique as a keen tool in materials characterisation and for extending the application of precession electron diffraction to materials with particularly valuable properties. 

  • Dr Eric Betzig Hon FRMS
    • Dr Eric Betzig Hon FRMS

      For his numerous contributions to the field of microscopy including the development of PALM (photoactivated localisation microscopy) and his further development of PALM to image multiple fluorophores. His development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy and more recently, lattice light-sheet microscopy; which allows gentle imaging of molecules to embryos with a high spatiotemporal resolution.


The following Honorary Fellowships were awarded prior to 2010.

2008 Professor Harald Rose Hon FRMS
2005 Mr Paul Hirst Hon FRMS
2001 Professor Sumio Iijima Hon FRMS
2001 Professor M J Whelan Hon FRMS  
2000 Professor G A D Briggs Hon FRMS 
1998 Dr Peter J Evennett Hon FRMS
1998 Professor Tony Wilson Hon FRMS
1994 Professor M Petran Hon FRMS 
1993 Professor Hellmuth Sitte Hon FRMS 
1989 Dr P N T Unwin Hon FRMS
1988 Professor Gerd Binnig Hon FRMS 
1987 Professor Sir Eric A Ash Hon FRMS
1984 Professor C F Quate Hon FRMS  
1982 Dr M Karnovsky Hon FRMS 
1981 Dr James V P Long Hon FRMS
1978 Professor Archie Howie Hon FRMS
1978 Professor Ewald R Weibel Hon FRMS
1977 Professor Sir Peter Hirsch Hon FRMS 
1976 Professor J S Ploem Hon FRMS 


Share this