Born in Philadelphia, John Darlington Landstreet obtained a B.A. in physics from Reed College in 1962. He then moved to Columbia University where he completed a doctoral thesis under the supervision of Prof. L. Woltjer in 1966. His thesis work was concerned with theoretical neutrino astrophysics. He became interested in stellar magnetism as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia, and, with the help of his collaborator Roger Angel, he built the first astronomical photoelectric polarimeter which led, among others, to the discovery of the first magnetic white dwarf. In 1970, he joined the faculty of the Astronomy Department of the University of Western Ontario as an Assistant Professor, and then quickly climbed the ranks, being promoted to Associate Professor in 1972 and Full Professor in 1976.
The name of John Landstreet is closely associated on the international scene with stellar magnetism. Indeed, he pioneered the modern observational techniques (optical continuum and line polarimetry) that are used today all over the world to study the fascinating phenomenon of magnetism in stars. Exceptionally gifted, he designed and built top-of-the-line optical instruments, carried out observations at all the major astronomical observatories, and developed also a unique expertise in the modelling of magnetic stars. In particular, along with his students, he created the major theoretical and computational tools needed to understand the observations of peculiar stars whose atmospheres are threaded by large-scale magnetic fields. His mastery of both the observational and theoretical aspects of our science made him one of the best all-around astronomer-astrophysicists in Canada. In recognition of this fact John was awarded the Canadian Astronomical Society’s Carlyle S. Beals Award in 2002.
John Landstreet has also left an exceptional imprint on the fabric of Canadian astronomy. He has generously served on countless national committees, served also as Chair of his Department from 1992 to 1996, and was elected President of the Canadian Astronomical Society for a two-year term in 1996. He has also been very active on various committees of the International Astronomical Union. His record in the category of the training of highly qualified personnel is truly remarkable: John Landstreet has mentored more than one dozen Ph.D. students, most of whom are pursuing successful careers in astronomy in Canada and in the United States.
Biography kindly written by Gilles Fontaine, with minor edits. Photo of JDL in the Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer, 1958 - the year he left home for Reed College, and included here by his daughter, without his permission.