Clifford V. Johnson

Clifford Victor Johnson (born 5 March 1968 in London, UK)[1] is an English theoretical physicist and professor at the University of Southern California Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Clifford Victor Johnson
Born (1968-03-05) 5 March 1968 (age 52)
London, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Southampton (PhD)
Imperial College London (BSc)
AwardsMaxwell Medal and Prize (2005)
Scientific career
Fieldstheoretical physics, particle physics, mathematical physics
InstitutionsUniversity of Southern California
Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics
University of California, Santa Barbara
Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton University


Johnson lived in Montserrat for 10 years.[2] Johnson's research focus is in superstring theory and particle physics, specifically related to strongly coupled phenomena.[3][4] He has previously worked at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Institute for Advanced Study and Princeton University.[5] He received the 2005 Maxwell Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics, "For his outstanding contribution to string theory, quantum gravity and its interface with strongly coupled field theory, in particular for his work on understanding the censorship of singularities and the thermodynamic properties of quantum spacetime."[6][7][8][9] He received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1997.[5] In 2005, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education listed Clifford Johnson as the most highly cited black professor of mathematics or a related field at an American university or college.[10]

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Imperial College London in 1989 and he completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Southampton in 1992.

He also actively works to promote science in the public and physics outreach. As part of this effort, he regularly appears on the History Channel series The Universe and acts as a science consultant for the Discovery Channel.[11] Johnson founded the African Summer Theory Institute, "which brings teachers, researchers, and students of all levels together for a month-long conference on a science topic—a different one every year—to discuss, to network, and, of course, to learn."[12]

He has also served as a science consultant for science fiction films and television shows including Avengers: Endgame and Star Trek: Discovery. He made a brief cameo appearance in the 2020 film Palm Springs.[13]


  • The Dialogues Conversations about the Nature of the Universe. MIT Press. 2017. ISBN 978-0262037235.
  • Clifford V. Johnson (2003). D-Branes. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80912-6.


  1. ^ Career data from American Men and Women of Science, Thomson Gale 2004
  2. ^ "Clifford V. Johnson - Mathematician of the African Diaspora".
  3. ^ Strings Link the Ultracold With the Superhot Science News, 25 April 2009,
  4. ^ String Theory Officially Useful, May Not Represent Reality Ars Technica, 17 February 2009
  5. ^ a b "Faculty Profile > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences".
  6. ^ Recipients of the Maxwell Medal and Prize Institute of Physics
  7. ^ Faces and Places Cern Courier 4 October 2004
  8. ^ U.K. Society Lauds USC College Professor USC College News 1 October 2004
  9. ^ Careers in Science: Professor of Physics Wired Science 11 January 2008
  10. ^ The Most Highly Cited Black Mathematicians The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 2005
  11. ^ Prime Time Makes a Scientific Discovery Los Angeles Times, 7 December 2008
  12. ^ Science Hero: Clifford V. Johnson Science Heroes
  13. ^ Kohn, Eric (9 July 2020). "Meet the Physicist Who Is Changing Movie Science, from 'Avengers' to 'Palm Springs'". IndieWire. Retrieved 18 July 2020.

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