A member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished and who has been a continuous member for the four year period leading up to the year of nomination, may, by virtue of such meritorious contribution be elected a Fellow by the Council. Examples of areas in which nominees may have made significant contributions are research; teaching; technology; services to professional societies; administration in academe, industry, and government; and communicating and interpreting science to the public. In a tradition stretching back to 1874, these individuals are recognized for their extraordinary achievements across disciplines. Fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council from the list of approved nominations from the Section Steering Committees.
Newly elected Fellows are presented with their certificate and fellowship rosette at the Fellows Forum during the AAAS Annual Meeting. The rosette was adopted by the Board of Directors on 2 December 1989, as an emblem of Fellowship. Following heraldic tradition, the blue represents engineering and the gold represents science.