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Clifford Johnson

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Information about Clifford Johnson

Profile image of Clifford Johnson

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Physics Professor
Physicist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Green
Favorite Food:
Italian Food, Caribbean Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
That's a sword that cuts both ways.

Birthplace

Born:
3/5/1968
Birth Location:
London,

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Physics Professor
Physicist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Green
Favorite Food:
Italian Food, Caribbean Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
That's a sword that cuts both ways.

Birthplace

Born:
3/5/1968
Birth Location:
London
See how Clifford Johnson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Physicist and physics professor Clifford Johnson was born in 1968 in London, England. Growing up, Johnson spent ten years on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where his father worked as a telephone engineer. As a child, Johnson began to teach himself electronics by secretly reading his father's books. In lieu of watching television, Johnson read electronics books and magazines, fixed appliances, and designed devices and machines such as radios and remote-controlled submarines. He also enjoyed gardening and making intricate patterned designs using needlework techniques such as crochet and macramé. Due to his interest in how things worked, Johnson decided at an early age he wanted to become a scientist. He went on to receive his B.S. degree in physics from the Imperial College at London University in 1989 and his Ph.D. degree in physics from Southampton University in 1992.

After graduating, Johnson began working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1994, he moved to Princeton University as an instructor and post doctoral fellow. The following year, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California. Johnson taught as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky between 1997 and 1999 before joining the faculty at the University of Durham, England. Since 2003, Johnson has been a professor at the University of Southern California’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2004, Johnson founded the African Summer Theory Institute, which held its inaugural workshop meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

Johnson received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Career Award in 1997, and in 2005, he was awarded the Institute of Physics’ Maxwell Medal and Prize for his work on string theory and quantum gravity. He has also been listed in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education as the most highly cited black professor of mathematics or a related field at an American university or college. In addition to his research and teaching, Johnson communicates and explains science to the general public. He blogs, has made short films on science, written articles for magazines, has co-authored a play, authored a book, and is currently writing and drawing a graphic novel featuring science. He appears on the History Channel’s The Universe series and other series on channels such as Discovery, Science, National Geographic, Spike, and Comedy Central. He has been a science consultant for film, TV, radio, and theater.

Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2011.

See how Clifford Johnson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Clifford Johnson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson shares his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson talks about his mother's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson shares stories about his mother's upbringing and move to Britain
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about his father's involvement in the Windrush Movement
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson talks about his parents' schooling and how they met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson talks about his family's move back to the Caribbean from England
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Clifford Johnson explains which of his parents he takes after most
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson describes his early childhood memories of living in England
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson recalls his family's move back to the Caribbean island of Montserrat
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson describes his neighborhood on the Caribbean island of Montserrat
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson describes transportation on the Caribbean island of Montserrat
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about the volcanic activity on the Caribbean island of Montserrat
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson talks about his childhood activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson talks about his early interest in electronics
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Clifford Johnson talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson talks about his desire to become a scientist
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson talks about racial and ethnic differences in the Caribbean
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson talks about his American friend in secondary school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson recalls his father leaving the family
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about his family reuniting in England
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson discusses the black population in England
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson remembers high school in Preston, England
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson talks about his school experience on the Caribbean island of Montserrat
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson talks about his interest in comic books
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson discusses the influence of science in comic books
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson talks about his high school experience in England
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about string theory background
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson explains string theory
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson compares high school in England and in America
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson explains the influence of social class in British life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson discusses his musical interests
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson describes the process of building a guitar
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about his social life in high school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson explains his decision to attend Imperial College London
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson talks about life in London and his introduction to jazz music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Clifford Johnson talks about his experience at Imperial College London
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson explains his decision to pursue graduate studies at Southampton University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson describes his string theory research at Southampton University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson explains how string theory is measured
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson talks about the tools of string theory
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about his Ph.D. dissertation and the difference between open and closed strings
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson talks about receiving post doctoral fellowships
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson describes his relationship with Edward Witten at the Institute for Advanced Studies
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson shares a story about working with Edward Witten at the Institute for Advanced Study, part 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson shares a story about working with Edward Witten at the Institute for Advanced Study, part 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson talks about leaving the Institute for Advanced Study
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson explains his decision to pursue post doctoral studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about his work with Joe Polchinski on D-branes at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson talks about the importance of his D-branes publication
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson describes a day in the life of a physicist
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson discusses the importance of both mathematics and experimentation in physics
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson talks about his move to the University of Kentucky
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson talks about his research grant and teaching at the University of Kentucky
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson describes his 1999 publications at the University of Kentucky
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson talks about the value of string theory tools
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson talks about his family and his move to the University of Durham in 2000
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson talks about his experience at the University of Durham
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson talks about his association with Cambridge University
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson responds to a question about a popular culture film
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson talks about his experience at the University of Southern California and the publication of his book on D-branes
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about the role of physics in the development of the World Wide Web
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson talks about electronic archives and their influence on physics research
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Clifford Johnson talks about the 2004 African Summer Theory Institute
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson talks about the Maxwell Medal and explains lattice theory
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson discusses the role of science in society
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Clifford Johnson talks about his involvement in the production of a play
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Clifford Johnson discusses his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Clifford Johnson talks about his public outreach efforts
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Clifford Johnson reflects on his life's accomplishments
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Clifford Johnson discusses the future of string theory research
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Clifford Johnson talks about his family and how he would like to be remembered