Nomination Guide / Instructions

Nomination Guide / Instructions

This guide is intended for individuals nominating a colleague for OSA Fellow. We greatly appreciate your participation in this process – it can’t happen without you. We know that writing an effective nomination can seem like a challenge, so we have created this guide to assist you. As a reminder, only current OSA Fellow Members may submit a Fellow nomination. If you need additional assistance please contact the OSA Awards Office at

In the interest of efficiency and speed, all nominations are submitted online through BEAM, OSA’s Awards and Honors System.  All nominations must be submitted by 15 June. References are due 25 June.

Important - To maintain confidentiality, the necessary facts should be obtained from the nominee only if the complete and correct background information is not available elsewhere. Ideally, the nominee should not participate in the nomination process, and in particular, should not ask Fellows for a nomination.

Who is eligible to be a Nominator?

Only current OSA Fellow members may nominate a colleague for Fellow.

Who is eligible to be Nominated?

Current OSA members who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics may be proposed for election to the class of Fellow.

There is no length-of-membership requirement, nor do nominees need to be Senior Members.

OSA serves a diverse and inclusive community worldwide.  Nominees that reflect and support this diversity across all areas including gender, educational/institutional background and geography are especially encouraged. Nominations of colleagues from outside your home institution are also encouraged.

The number of Fellows is limited by the Society's bylaws to be no more than 10% of the total OSA Membership and the number elected each year is limited to approximately 0.5% of the previous year's membership total.  Currently, only less than 50% of the nominees are elected annually.

To maintain confidentiality, the necessary facts should be obtained from the nominee only if the complete and correct background information is not available elsewhere. Ideally, the nominee should not participate in the nomination process, and in particular, should not ask Fellows for a nomination.

What is Required from Nominators?

  1. Nominee’s name and primary email address
  2. A 20 word, or less, suggested citation, which typically starts with “for” and should be concise, but broad enough to encompass the nominee’s contributions. Examples of citations.
  3. A 1-page narrative that provides a concise and accurate description of the nominee’s contributions, with an emphasis on impact and activities that support the nomination category you select. Tips for an effective narrative. Note, this must be submitted as a PDF document.
  4. Supporting documents, in PDF format,  (10 pages or less in total):
    1. Current CV/resume
    2. Patent/Publication List (optional)
    3. Other supporting documents (optional)
  5. Identifying the OSA Technical Division that best fits the nominee's work. View a listing of the technical groups under each division.
    1. Bio-Medical Optics
    2. Fabrication, Design & Instrumentation
    3. Information Acquisition, Processing & Display
    4. Optical Interaction Science
    5. Photonics and Opto-Electronics
    6. Vision and Color Division
  6. Selecting the nomination category that best matches the nominee's significant contributions. The Fellow Members Committee will evaluate the nomination within the context of this category. 
    1. Business Leadership
    2. Education
    3. Engineering, Application and Development
    4. Engineering and Science Research
    5. Technical Leadership
    6. Volunteer/Professional Service
  7. Selecting four (4) references, of which at least one (1) must be a current OSA Fellow Member. 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. References are due 25 June. No more than four (4) reference can be submitted.
  8. Monitoring your nomination to ensure the references are received by the deadline. While OSA sends occasional reminders to references, it is the nominator's responsibility to ensure all materials are submitted by the deadline.

Who can be a Reference?

All references do not need to be OSA members, but at least one (1) reference must be a current OSA Fellow Member. It is recommended that only one (1) reference be from the same institution as the nominee.

Need help finding references?

  1. Consider co-authors
  2. Project collaborators
  3. Faculty or department colleagues
  4. Those serving with the nominee on Boards, Committees or Councils
  5. Use the OSA Directory for reference

What Information do References see in BEAM?

References are able to view the following information:

  1. Proposed citation for the nominee
  2. 1-page narrative
  3. Nominee’s CV/Resume
  4. Nominee’s category of achievement


Is anyone automatically nominated for Fellow?

Per a standing policy, OSA award winners who are OSA members but not OSA Fellows are automatically considered for election to Fellow using the award nomination materials. All nominations are automatically considered for up to three review cycles.

What’s the Timeline?

June 15 – Nominations are due

June 25 – References are due

June – August – Fellows Member Committee Reviews Nominations

September / October – Approval of Fellows by the Awards Committee & OSA Board of Directors

October – Announcement of new Fellows

OSA notifies successful nominees by email and mail, their nominators and references are notified via email. Nominators of unsuccessful nominees are also notified by email.

Nominations are eligible for consideration for up to three years. Nominators are asked to update a continuing nomination before the 15 June deadline. After review by three committees, a nomination is retired.

What is the success rate for nominations?

About 50% of nominations are successful each year. Roughly, 200 nominations are reviewed each year.


What is the Evaluation Criteria?

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

The following criteria is considered when evaluating nominations; 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, and 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 OSA 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.

How does the Committee determine which nominees will be recommended for election to Fellow?

Each member of the Fellow Members Committee reviews ~ 80 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. OSA 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.

Who approves the new Fellow class?

The Fellow Members Committee Chair presents the Committee’s report, with a list of recommended Fellows, to the Awards Council for approval during their fall meeting. Following approval by the Awards Council, the OSA Board of Directors reviews and approves the list at their fall meeting.

How many Fellows can be elected each year?

The number of Fellows is limited by the Society's bylaws to be no more than 10% of the total OSA Membership and the number elected each year is limited to approximately 0.5% of the previous year’s membership total. Currently approximately 100 Fellows can be elected each year.

If a nomination isn’t approved, what are the next steps to resubmit for the following year?

Fellow 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. Tips and information for submitting a nomination and reference are available online. Nominators who would like additional assistance should contact the OSA Awards Office at