Head of Science and Technology
I found the process of becoming a fellow uplifting! Even as a long-term member of the IOP, I had little idea of who the Fellows were and it had never really occurred to me that I might ever become one. So, to be elected as one was a very pleasing reward for the various contributions I'd made
I didn't apply to be a fellow; I was nominated and appointed as a result of my involvement with the editorial board of the IOP journal Physics Education. This in itself became possible because I had been a schoolteacher for a number of years and working with various other IOP projects in that time.
A sense of involvement
I live in London and am able more than most to pop into Portland Place for events from time to time, but the Institute should not be seen as an exclusive London club. The principal advantage is a stronger sense of involvement with the Institute. With fellowship comes a recognition of sustained loyalty and willingness to create, assist and support projects and initiatives, not only in one's own area of expertise but across the organisation.
It is nice to be asked to become involved in focus groups, committees and the like. Obviously, there is a sense of pride that comes with the appointment and I think it is important for organisations containing fellows to share that pride. To have fellows in one's department is a strong indicator that the department is supportive and active in the field, so this is one advantage that stretches beyond the individual.
Talk it through
My advice to anyone seeking fellowship would be this: seek out a fellow in your department or a similar one (the IOP will be able to help with contacts) and discuss your thoughts with them.
Also, contact the IOP directly to discuss it. Anyone thinking about it is likely to be mindful of appropriate achievements and developments, so it is worthwhile pursuing these.
After graduating, Kevin Walsh, 45, worked for a year as a medical physicist before returning to university for a PhD at Surrey and then a PGCE. His first teaching appointment was at The King's School, Worcester, before moving to Westminster. Over the years Kevin has been involved with IOP curriculum development and training programmes and is an examiner for the Advancing Physics A-level.