Julien Clinton Sprott
Curriculum Vitae

Julien Clinton
  Julien Clinton Sprott
  Department of Physics
  University of Wisconsin
  1150 University Avenue
  Madison, WI 53706-1390  USA

  Tel: (608) 263-4449
  Fax: (608) 262-7205


Born September 16, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee
U. S. Citizen


* Ph.D., 1969, M.S., 1966 (Physics) University of Wisconsin-Madison
Thesis Title: Behavior of RF Heated Plasmas in a Toroidal Octupole Magnetic Field
Advisor: Donald W. Kerst

* B.S., 1964 (Physics) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thesis Title: Acoustical Methods for Locating Multiple Tracks in Spark Chambers
Advisor: Alan J. Lazarus


* University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Physics
Emeritus Professor (2008-present)
Professor (1979-2008)
Associate Professor (1977-1979)
Assistant Professor (1973-1977)
Visiting Assistant Professor (1972-1973)
* Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Thermonuclear Division
Research Physicist (1970-1972)
* University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Physics
Project Associate (1969-1970)
Research Assistant (1964-1969)
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laboratory for Nuclear Science
Laboratory Technician (1964)


* Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1972)
* McDonnell Douglas Corporation (1977-1980)
* Electric Power Research Institute (1978)
* TRW (1979)
* Argonne National Laboratory (1979-1980)
* Honeywell (1981)
* Dr. Kenneth Kensey (1986)
* West Publishing (1990)
* Saunders College Publishing (1991-1992)
* Society of Actuaries (1992)
* Praxair, Inc. (2003)
* Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (2006)

Research Interests

Heating and confinement of plasmas, especially electron and ion cyclotron resonance heating in magnetic mirrors and toroidal confinement devices; extraterrestrial plasmas and cosmic rays; nonlinear dynamics; chaos; fractals; complex systems; numerical simulation; time-series analysis; physics education.

Most of my professional career has been devoted to experimental plasma physics with an application to the development of controlled nuclear fusion. Fusion promises an inexhaustible supply of energy, and its attainment would revolutionize society. This interest began in graduate school where I studied electron cyclotron resonance heating of plasmas confined in a toroidal octupole magnetic field. This interest continued in subsequent employment at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where I worked on an electron cyclotron heated mirror device (ELMO) and on the design of its toroidal successor (Elmo Bumpy Torus). Upon return to the University of Wisconsin, I continued and expanded these studies to include ion cyclotron resonance heating in octupole and tokamak devices.

I played major roles in the design and construction of several magnetic confinement devices, including Tokapole II, a toroidal divertor tokamak, and MST, a reversed field pinch, at the University of Wisconsin. My interests were in optimizing the performance of these devices.

Since 1989 my work has been mostly in nonlinear dynamics and chaos. I developed several computer programs to demonstrate chaos and to perform time-series analysis of experimental data with the aim of clarifying the underlying dynamics. These studies may have application to plasma turbulence and anomalous transport, but they are of much more general interest in fields as diverse as economics, ecology, meteorology, and electrical engineering. I have discovered a variety of especially simple chaotic systems and electrical circuits and done statistical analyses of large collections of numerically simulated chaotic systems. I have studied the chaotic and self-organizing properties of large artificial neural networks and other high-dimensional dynamical systems.

In 1984 I began a program called The Wonders of Physics, aimed at generating interest in science and encouraging students to consider scientific careers. This effort has included public presentations, workshops, development of educational software, videos, and a lecture kit, as well as the training and supervision of graduate students and teachers in employing these techniques.

Professional Societies

* American Physical Society Fellow (Division of Plasma Physics)
* University Fusion Association
* American Association of Physics Teachers
* Sigma Xi
* Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and Life Sciences
* New England Complex Systems Institute
* Italian Society for Chaos and Complexity


* Election to fellowship in the American Physical Society (1980)
* Winner of the first annual "Computers in Physics" software contest for innovative software in physics education (1990)
* John Glover Award - Dickinson College (1994)
* Van Hise Outreach Award for Excellence in Teaching - University of Wisconsin-Madison (1997)
* Lifetime Achievement Award - Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers (1999)
* Distinguished Service Award - UW Department of Physics (2013)
* Tribute article in International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos (2017)
* Institute for Scientific Information Global Highly Cited Researchers (2021)


About 500 journal articles and abstracts, mostly in experimental plasma physics and computational nonlinear dynamics, plus a dozen books, 4 educational software packages, 37 educational videos, and numerous popular lectures.

Ph.D. Students Graduated (and current employer)

* J. D. Barter (1976) - TRW
* J. F. Etzweiler (1977) - NY Power and Light
* R. J. Groebner (1979) - General Atomics
* E. J. Strait (1979) - General Atomics
* B. Lipschultz (1979) - MIT
* A. P. Biddle (1980) - American Airlines (retired)
* D. J. Holly (1982) - UW-Madison
* P. K. Smith (1983) - Teledyne-Brown
* C. M. Fortgang (1983) - Los Alamos National Lab
* F. D. Witherspoon (1984) - HyperV Technologies, Inc.
* A. W. Leonard (1986) - General Atomics
* D. Kortbawi (1987) - Physics International
* J. S. Sarff (1988) - UW-Madison
* M. A. LaPointe (1990) - Omega Corporation
* A. F. Almagri (1990) - UW-Madison
* C. A. Watts (1993) - University of New Mexico
* K. A. Mirus (1998) - Madison Area Technical College
* D. J. Albers (2004) - Columbia University

See a more complete CV in pdf format
See a brief biographical synopsis
See additional photographs
See also a Summary of Recent Activities
J. C. Sprott