John W. Clark received a B.S. in 1955 and an M.A. in 1957, both from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Ph.D. in 1959 from Washington University. During the years 1959 to 1963 he was successively a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow with Eugene Wigner at Princeton University, an associate research scientist at the Martin Company, Denver, and a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow both at the University of Birmingham, England, and the French nuclear research establishment in Saclay. He joined the Washington University faculty in 1963 as Assistant Professor of Physics and was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 1965. He was promoted to associate professor in 1966 and full professor in 1972, and he served as interim chair of the Department of Physics during 1996-1997.
Professor Clark's career is distinguished by a wide-ranging involvement in both traditional and non-traditional branches of theoretical physics. For three decades he has played a leading role in the development and application of flexible and robust methods for quantitative prediction of the properties of strongly interacting quantum many-particle systems. These methods have yielded fundamental new insights into the nature of the matter inside nuclei and neutron stars, the exotic quantum phenomena of superfluidity and Bose-Einstein condensation in quantum fluids, and the properties of strongly-coupled electron systems and lattice-spin models. In recognition of his pioneering work in this field, Clark was awarded the Eugene Feenberg Medal for Many-Body Physics in 1987.
Since the mid-1970's, John Clark's research has been increasingly cross-disciplinary in character. An early interest in neural networks as models for brain function led to studies of the complex dynamical behavior and statistical properties of these systems, as well as learning rules that allow them to store and retrieve information. Yet another line of research, conducted in the 1980's with Professor T. J. Tarn of the Department of Systems Science & Mathematics, resulted in papers that provide the theoretical foundation for the burgeoning field of quantum control. Active control of quantum mechanical systems is at the heart of laser manipulation of chemical reactions and proposed designs for quantum computers.
Clark's published work includes some two hundred articles in professional journals and topical volumes. He has co-edited and co-authored six books, including Scientific Applications of Neural Nets, published in 1999 by Springer-Verlag. His current research continues to span a broad spectrum - nucleonic superfluidity in neutron stars, broken symmetries in liquid helium, short-range correlations in electron-nucleus scattering, database mining in nuclear physics, and quantum control theory. Working with faculty in the Washington University School of Medicine, he is engaged in theoretical research in neural information processing and computational neuroscience that is centered on the joint supervision of Ph.D. candidates interested in theoretical biology.
A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Clark is on the editorial boards of the annual series Condensed Matter Theories and Advances in Quantum Many-Body Theory. He has worked on the organizing or program committees of over twenty scientific meetings in several fields, and is a member of the standing advisory committees of two continuing conference series that he helped to establish. As a trustee of the International Workshops on Condensed Matter Theories he has long been active in the promotion of scientific exchanges and collaborations between researchers from diverse cultures. He is currently chair of the selection committee for the Wheatley Prize of the American Physical Society, which recognizes outstanding individual contributions to the scientific infrastructure of a developing country.
Professor Clark has taught an unusually wide assortment of courses, both undergraduate and graduate, including ''Physics of the Brain,'' which has traditionally attracted some of the most talented undergraduate students in the university. He has supervised the research of more than twenty Ph.D. recipients and has been a member of nearly every departmental committee. He has also served as a member of the Review Committee on Faculty Personnel Procedures, the Advisory Committee on Tenure, Promotion, and Personnel, and the Washington University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute Advisory Council.