John Chapman received both the M.A. degree in Natural Sciences and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, in 1973.
Following a Research Fellowship at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he became a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Promotion to readership in 1984 and full professorship in 1988 followed; currently he is Head of Department. Professor Chapman's main research interest concerns the characterization, development, and application of advanced functional materials. Overall his aim is to gain understanding at a microscopic level of how various physical properties relate to material nanostructure and how the former can be improved by the ways in which materials are grown and processed. He studies magnetic materials extensively, with particular emphasis on magnetic nanostructures and multilayer films. Much of his work uses electron microscopy and related analytical techniques. He has co-authored about 250 papers.
In 1991 Professor Chapman was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Microscopical Society.