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John C Clamp

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Contact Information

(919) 530-6395
(919) 530-7773
203 Lee Biology Building


Walter Pattillo, Jr. Endowed Professor

Courses taught currently include BIOL 4930 Scientific Writing, BIOL 3430 Marine Biology, and BIOL 1100 General Biology (non-majors)


I was born in Nuremberg, Germany because my father was in the U.S. Army and stationed there just after WWII. He was a master sergeant, so he was able to claim off-base housing and bring my mother to Germany to live with him. I left there with them to go back to Ft. Myer, VA before I was a year old, so I don't remember anything about that part of my life. I went back to Nuremberg in 2001 and actually found the duplex apartment I lived in as an infant. It is part of a historic preservation district because the apartments there were designed by famous architects of the Nazi era. Nuremberg was an extremely interesting place to visit because it has a well-preserved medieval center with a castle at the peak of a hill. One of my favorite renaissance artists, Albrect Durer lived there, and I stayed in a hotel next to his home/studio, which I toured while I was there. Also, the ruins of the stadium and other areas where the Nazis had their annual rallies (shown in the infamous propaganda film "Triumph of the Will") is on the outskirts of the city center.

From age 3-7 I lived in France and started school there in the army primary school on the military base. The U.S. still had NATO bases in France then, and my father was stationed at one in the south-central area of the country. I have many pleasant memories of this period in my life. We lived on a farm in a converted barn for a year and then in part of an old stone house in the village near the base. The village was on the bank of the Vienne R., a tributary of the Loire R., one of the great rivers of France. This is the section of France with many beautiful chateaux (country estates built around a castle) and medieval cities and castles associated with Jean d'Arc. She is one of the more fascinating figures in European history (at least to me), and I have read many books about her life, including all of the letters she dictated during her life.

After France, I lived on an army base near Colorado Springs, CO for a year, until my dad decided to retire from the army after 22 years of service and start a second career as a furniture salesman in Fayetteville, NC. This let my mother be near my grandmother, father was near enough to his family in South Carolina for frequent visits. My mother grew up on Fort Bragg (she also was an army brat), and my father was from Newberry, SC, a town in the upcountry west of Columbia that goes back to colonial days. I was an only child, but my father had 10 brothers and sisters (the oldest were born in 1898 and 1900), and my mother had 5 brothers and sisters. So, my parent's generation have all passed on, but I have a lot of cousins, many of which I am in touch with. I am married to a woman from Michigan, and I have two grown step-children, both of which I am very close to, and a step-grand daughter.

You can tell I like to travel, and one of my biggest interests other than science is history. I also love the outdoors and have spent very many hours fishing and hiking. I use to hunt in my younger days but gave it up in my twenties (I developed too much sympathy for the game animals!). I am a casual but enthusiastic bird watcher, and my house is surrounded by bird feeders and flowers. One of my everyday joys during the summer is watching the hummingbirds that visit our feeders and the huge sphinx moths that visit the moon plants every night around sunset. I live in the Northgate neighborhood just north of downtown Durham, which is a closely knit neighborhood with lots of trees and modest houses. My house is a 2-bedroom bungalow built in 1929, which I have renovated inside and out over the years.

Research Interests

I maintain an active research program in evolutionary biology of ciliates, with a record of two major grants from the NSF Division of Environmental Biology. I have just submitted a major collaborative grant involving colleagues at College of William and Mary, U. of Puget Sound, and universities in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile.

I am interested in phylogenetic relationships, populational structure, and ecological functions of several major groups of ciliated protists, especially ones called peritrichs and apostomes. My everyday work involves collecting material from nature and isolating ciliates from it, making microscopical observations of live ciliates and ones stained to show internal cellular structures, and amplification of key genes (especially rRNA-coding regions) for use in molecular analyses of phylogeny (evolutionary relationships) and population dynamics. I am particularly interested in ciliates that exist as symbionts on crustaceans and aquatic insects.

Organizer of an international research coordination network for biodiversity of ciliates. This is a large group of researchers from the U.S., China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, India, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. I am involved in many international research collaborations, especially with colleagues in China and have made five trips to China and one to Austria for research collaborations within the last 10 years. In China, I have been to Beijing, Qingdao, Yantai, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Guilin, and Xi'an at least once. I have limited ability to speak and read Mandarin Chinese, am semi-fluent in French and Spanish, and have a limited ability to speak German. I can read French, Spanish, and German relatively well and have even peer-reviewed a couple of manuscripts in Spanish.

In my career, I have visited 48 of the 50 United States either for field collecting or conferences, all of the southern tier of Canadian provinces except Manitoba, France, Netherlands, England, and Germany, in addition to my major visits to China and Austria.

Author or co-author of 58 peer-reviewed scientific articles and two book chapters.

Have served or am currently serving as an external member of graduate advisory committees for students in South African, Brazilian, and U.S. universities (U. of Illinois at Chicago, College of William and Mary).

Have hosted graduate students and faculty from China and Brazil in my laboratory at NCCU for collaborative visits lasting up to 2 years.


PhD North Carolina State University 1984
MS North Carolina State University 1972
BS Methodist University 1970
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