Professor Sir John M. Ball was born in Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom, in 1948. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from St. John’s College at the university of Cambridge in 1969, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and his D.Phil in Mechanical Engineering in 1972 from the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Heriot Watt university in Edinburgh, Scotland and at Brown university in the USA, a senior fellow of the science and engineering research council at Heriot Watt university, and fellow of the Royal society of Edinburgh and London. He was knighted in 2006 for his service to science and is currently Sedleian professor of natural philosophy, director of Oxford Centre for Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations, and fellow of the queen’s college at the university of Oxford.
Professor Sir John Ball is an internationally leading researcher with fundamental mathematical contributions to nonlinear partial differential equations, the calculus of variations, and applications to materials science and liquid crystals. First recognized for his pioneering work giving the first global existence theorems for energy minimizing configurations in nonlinear elasticity under realistic hypotheses on the material response, and the first rigorous treatment of non-interpenetration of matter and cavitation in solids. He worked with Richard James to develop the widely used mathematical theory of martensitic phase transformations and their microstructure as well as a theory of metastability based on geometric incompatibility of parent and product phases.
Moreover, he is well known for his groundbreaking work on infinite-dimensional dynamical systems, in which his method is widely used for proving the existence of global attractors for nonlinear wave equations and other systems.
Professor Sir John Ball’s recent work on the Landau-de Gennes theory has greatly stimulated the worldwide study of mathematics of liquid crystals. In particular, his fundamental contributions with zarnescu to orientability of director configurations, and the satisfaction of eigenvalue constraints on the de Gennes Q-tensor with Majumdar.
Professor Sir John Ball has published over 70 highly cited articles, with a total Web of Science (Google Scholar) citations of 7,550 (14,242) and an H-index of 35 (45). He has also, authored, edited, and reviewed in total over 15 books. He is a member of the editorial board of many reputable scientific journals and has participated in various conferences and exhibitions in his field as well as supervised over 20 Ph. D students. Professor sir Ball is a highly active researcher and academic as evident by the over 25 awards and honors he has received.
Professor Sir John M. Ball, has been awarded the 2018 King Faisal Prize in Science for the topic of Mathematics for his fundamental and groundbreaking contributions to nonlinear partial differential equations, the calculus of variations, and dynamical systems. In these areas he developed revolutionary approaches that are widely used in mathematics today. His work applies deep mathematical insights to important real-life problems, pioneering applications in materials science. He introduced rigorous mathematical foundations for liquid crystals, phase transitions and nonlinear elasticity.
In addition to his scientific achievements, Professor Sir John Ball has served the wider scientific community in a leading advisory role to mathematical initiatives around the world.