Rumford Medal

This medal is awarded for important discoveries in the field of thermal or optical properties of matter and their applications.

Benjamin Thompson Benjamin Thompson FRS

The Rumford Medal is awarded biennially (in even years) for "an outstandingly important recent discovery in the field of thermal or optical properties of matter and their applications, made by a scientist working in Europe , noting that Rumford was concerned to see recognised discoveries that tended to promote the good of mankind".

The award was established following a donation by Benjamin Thompson FRS (PDF), known as Count Rumford. The first award was made in 1800.

If possible the Committee will award the medal to an early-to-mid career stage scientist. The award must be made to a scientist working in Europe.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Physical Sciences Awards Committees. Nominations are valid for five years after which the candidate cannot be re-nominated until a year after the nomination has expired. The medal is of silver gilt and is accompanied by a gift of £1,000. 


The next call for nominations for this award will open in 2015.

Professor Roy Taylor

Most recent medallist

Professor Roy Taylor was awarded the Rumford Medal in 2012 for his outstanding contributions to tunable ultrafast lasers and nonlinear fibre optics, including fibre Raman, soliton and supercontinuum laser sources, which translated fundamental discoveries to practical technology.


Buchanan Medal: For distinguished contributions to the medical sciences.

Darwin Medal: For work of acknowledged distinction in evolution, population biology, organismal biology and biological diversity.

Davy Medal: For important discoveries in chemistry.

Gabor Medal: For interdisciplinary work between the life sciences with other disciplines.

Hughes Medal: For original discoveries relating to the generation, storage and use of energy.

Kavli Education Medal: For impact in the field of science and mathematics education.

Leverhulme Medal: For significant contributions to chemistry or engineering.

Royal Society King Charles II Medal: For foreign Heads of State or Government who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering scientific research in their country.

Rumford Medal: For important discoveries in the field of thermal or optical properties of matter.

Sylvester Medal: For mathematical research.

See all medals, awards and prize lectures.

Contact us

If you have a question about this scheme, please first read the scheme notes which contain more information. If the answer is still not available, you can contact the grants team here.

Photos of the Rumford Medal

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