The Big Bang Theory Wiki

John Burgess[1]Whitney[2]Sturgis, Ph.D,[3] was a guest professor of physics at East Texas Tech in 1989, known for his work on radiocarbon dating. Dr. Sturgis is initially a pen pal of Sheldon Cooper, before the child prodigy audits his quantum chromodynamics course. Dr. Sturgis is instantly smitten with Sheldon's Meemaw and they begin dating, much to Sheldon's approval.

John enthusiastically seeks romantic aid via the ever-prying Sheldon, who steps over bounds interfering with their courtship. Sturgis shows what he believes to be 'machismo' when vying for the love of Meemaw against another suitor, which he wins, leading to the creation of young Sheldon's first relationship contract. Their relationship ends when he decides to shield her from his breaks from reality, after another stay at a mental institution.

For a time, Sturgis takes a job at a supercollider, forcing him to move to Waxahachie, Texas, followed by a brief hiatus from science. He is part of the Experimental Cosmology Center team at East Texas Tech. Alongside rival Dr Grant Linkletter, Dr. Sturgis becomes one of Sheldon's advisors, securing him a position at Heidelberg University's summer research program for work on superstrings.


He is eccentric, wears a tweed jacket with elbow patches, and rides a Schwinn Speedster since he doesn't drive. He knows how to cook Szechuan cuisine using his travel wok, due to his biking through China. Meemaw describes him as "a brilliant, bicycle-riding teddy bear" and, further, has elucidated he is "smart as hell, gentle, and funny (not always on purpose)." Meanwhile, George Cooper Sr. says he sounds like Sheldon. A role model to Sheldon, Dr. Sturgis shares many characteristics with his little counterpart: comfort with rules; attention to safety; penchant for dispensing knowledge; and confusion regarding social interactions. Also similar to Sheldon, he has a poster of Richard Feynman in his room and attempts to emulate the famed physicist's lifestyle, such as only having one flavor of ice cream for dessert over the past thirty-five years (in order to have one less decision in his life). He even shows interest in trains, too.

Mental Health[]

John's eccentricity may be masking a more serious mental health issue. In the second-season finale, "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast," the impending Nobel Prize ceremony appeared to have triggered an episode of psychosis. He tried to commandeer the university's mainframe computer (and ran when discovered), and Meemaw found him outside her house late at night, plucking goosegrass out of the lawn one blade at a time. After missing a dinner date and finding out that he missed several of his classes, she found him on the roof of his apartment building in the middle of a psychotic episode, attempting to "become one" with quarks and neutrinos. She was able to talk him down and took him inside, as he lamented the fact that he hadn't, and likely never would, win the Nobel Prize, but expressed confidence that Sheldon would do so one day. Later, when Mary Cooper went to console Sheldon at his Nobel listening party (which no one came to), she told him that John wouldn't be there because "he's not feeling well."

It's revealed at the beginning of Season 3 that he was placed in a mental institution following his breakdown and as a result Sheldon is no longer his student.

In the episode "A Pineapple and the Bosom of Male Friendship", John is discharged from the mental institution and visits the family shortly after. After dinner, at Meemaw's house, John reveals that he feels like they shouldn't continue their romantic relationship and would be happy if they remained friends. This leaves Meemaw upset and threatens to call Ira to call him for a date, in which John naively encourages. After Meemaw hangs up, she is still upset the next day. After Sheldon wants John to visit him, against Mary's will, John comes over later to see Sheldon. After they eat dinner, George Sr. decides to take him out to a divebar, while Meemaw is on a date with Ira. John and George Sr. discusses his breakup with Meemaw and tells George that Meemaw was his first girlfriend and probably his last, because he hadn't have an episode in an long time and didn't think it would happen again and so he broke up with Meemaw to prevent her from going through that again. After this, John tells George that he can ask him anything about marriage, like intimacy issues, communication issues and problems in the bedroom before he gets John to play Pool with him. After Meemaw's dinner, Ira decides that he doesn't want to date her again because he doesn't want to have his heart broken because it is obvious she's still attached to John. John and George are playing pool before George says that everyone at the divebar knows him (to make him look cool) and then John decides to toast to the entire bar that he thanks George for taking him here and listening to his woes.

In writing his first paper in years, titled "A Reconsideration of the Role of Time Operators in Quantum Mechanics," Dr. Sturgis explores the notion that time itself is quantized. Sheldon notes that it is a step towards unified field theory and that Sturgis opens with a critical examination of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. However, Sheldon's enthusiasm is abated when he realizes that he is getting numbers for the neutrino mass that are in excess of a hundred giga-electronvolts, pointing out that if these particles were that heavy, atoms would not be able to beta decay. He suggests to the professor to fix the neutrino mass problem via adding more spin to some of the particles, getting the neutrino mass to zero. Sheldon then realizes that it opens up a problem with double beta decay, unless a magnetic monopole is being predicted. Once Dr. Sturgis regards concern for controlling the infinities, the wunderkind posits adding faster-than-light particles, like tachyons. After Sturgis completely re-writes the paper for publication, Sheldon incorrectly assumes he will be given credit as co-author, overstating his contribution. John tells his mentee that he will receive special thanks in the footnotes, where people get recognition for helping. He spent years on this research. The spiteful Sheldon accuses Dr. Sturgis of an academic crime to Dr. Linkletter, who points out the seriousness of the claim and that is not uncommon to show work to a colleague for feedback. Without a forensic examination of the paper, Linkletter's inkling is that John is right, but tells Sheldon to allow him to discuss the matter with Sturgis. The suggestion that he would steal from a friend and student insults Dr. Sturgis, personally and professionally, and he removes Sheldon from his course. (An Academic Crime and a More Romantic Taco Bell)

Season 1[]

He met Sheldon when he received a phone call about it, they exchanged letters like a pen pal and they finally meet when Sheldon is allowed to take a class every saturday.

Sturgis forms a budding relationship with meemaw when he comes over for dinner, via bicycle. He has a nice conversation with Sheldon as he is interested in his knowledge. He cooks a dinner that included spices, and Meemaw likes it. He later asks if they wanted to spend the night, and she accepts. The next morning, as he is walked out of the house because he would go home, Sheldon sees therm, and tells his parents about it. (Summer Sausage, a Pocket Poncho, and Tony Danza)

Season 2[]

While Sturgis helps Sheldon set up his radio to hear the Nobel Prize, Sturgis has an episode about him not having achieved nor having been recognized for his works, he writes non-serious science equation in Meemaw's house, such as "Heat + Bread + Time = Toast". Later, he gets arrested by the security at East Texas Tech for breaking in a room. Later on, he climbs up to his apartment rooftop and does tai-chi, Meemaw goes to his apartment and makes him come down, Sturgis tells Meemaw that Sheldon will probably win the Nobel Prize. (A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast)

In the Cooper household kitchen, Dr. John Sturgis thanks Mary for inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner. John admits that he spent the previous Thanksgiving alone, eating a turkey sandwich. Next day, John Sees Georgie and George throw a football so he comes out and asks to throw. John impresses them with his ability to catch, but he’s unfortunately terrible at returning the ball. In Meemaw’s kitchen, In her kitchen, Meemaw asks John if they could do it one more time. He doesn’t want her to get tired of it, but she assures him that won’t happen. Meemaw throws a biscuit to John and is giddy at his unbelievable catch. (Family Dynamics and a Red Fiero)

Season 4[]

John took another job in college, so he won't be looking after Sheldon while he attends college full time.

One time, he was given a call by Meemaw. He joking mentions stuff about before dying, such as assisted living, and nursing homes. (The Geezer Bus and a New Model for Education)

One day, he gives an interview that did not go so well. He had mentioned if anything goes wrong, the super collider can cause a black hole and cause destruction of the planet and the moon. As a result, he is fired from the supercollider project. Later he tells Meemaw about it. He joins for dinner and a huge family discussion occurs and they are discussing while imagining what life could be in an alternate universe. (A Black Hole)

Later on, Meemaw and Sturgis break up.

Season 5[]

He was rumored to be working at Davidson's grocery store. He had greeted when she was at the cashier's place, when he goes to clean up a place. Then later, he was visited by Linkletter, who wants him to return to use his potential. In the end, he goes to help him for a moment.

John was asked about sexuality by Sheldon. In the conversation, he points out Andy and asks inappropriate sexual questions. This prompts the manager to fire him and receive the uniform in return. (Money Laundering and a Cascade of Hormones)

Season 6[]

He was asked to help Sheldon pitch an idea, because it would mean Sheldon would be taken seriously. (College Dropouts and the Medford Miracle)

Dr. Sturgis called Gary O’Brien to ask for help for a computer mainframe. is granted. Soon enough, he convinces Toby to work for them. He later is confronted by Grant Linkletter, who is made Toby was taken away. Later, he receives a mainframe and puts it in Sheldon's dorm room, and tells him to turn it on.

He is on campus and approaches Sheldon to talk. He cheers him up and brings to his own office; there he encourages Sheldon to look at failure and understand it, as the public did not understand the project too much. (Teen Angst and a Smart-Boy Walk of Shame)

He was asked whether he can be a faculty mentor for Sheldon in the student's astronomy and telescope endeavors in a search for non-Earth intelligence. He refused to help Sheldon. (Little Green Men and a Fella's Marriage Proposal)

Sturgis denied Sheldon's request to be the faculty advisor to use the school telescope. He later was impressed that Dr. Prakash and Sheldon had figured something else when he and Linkletter appeared in Prakash's office.

In a last ditch effort to get rid of Sheldon, he contacts a colleague at the University of Diffeldorf for a program; that friend accepts Sheldon into a program.

In a meeting later in his own office, he tells Sheldon it's available but the university is not paying money. He tells the same info to his parents. He later gives cash in an envelope given around by Linkletter. (German for Beginners and a Crazy Old Man with a Bat)

Season 7[]

Dr. Sturgis will return in "A Fancy Article and a Scholarship for a Baby" and "A Little Snip and Teaching Old Dogs"




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  • Dr. Sturgis possesses an I.Q. of 162, has 221 papers published and can speak Mandarin (Young Sheldon S5E14).
  • Dr. Sturgis has a Ph.D. in physics, according to Meemaw (Young Sheldon S3E3: An Entrepreneurialist and a Swat on the Bottom). He has two Ph.D.s, actually (Potential Energy and Hooch on a Park Bench).
  • Dr. Sturgis taught Sheldon his first college course in theoretical physics. He mentioned that he had a sticky note on his refrigerator to remind him to unify gravity with the other three fundamental forces (cf. Grand Unified Theory), after which Sheldon inquired when he chose to focus his research on quantum chromodynamics (presumably, as Sheldon's question is interrupted) — a gauge theory of the strong interaction in the Standard Model of Particle Physics that is of particular interest to young Sheldon since the episode "Dolomite, Apple Slices, and a Mystery Woman". Yet, Dr. Sturgis' research in radiocarbon dating suggested his field may have been experimental physics, developing nuclear instruments and methods, though he may apply numerical methods to radiocarbon isotope studies as well.
  • His second quantum chromodynamics lecture covered perturbative QCD corrections.
  • When he was younger, he had an extreme fear of public speaking until he was struck by lightning while playing miniature golf with some colleges. Afterwards, he was able to speak to anyone he wanted and became very sociable.
  • Like Sheldon, Sturgis' favorite color is blue. His favorite food is grilled cheese and his favorite ice cream is vanilla. Originally from Maine, he didn't have much Mexican food or guacamole, for which Meemaw has a particular predilection. He enjoys spaghetti with hot dogs cut up in it, once Sheldon introduces him to it.
  • He bought Meemaw a purple bicycle.
  • Wearing a bicycle helmet and his travel wok on his back, he makes a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • A professor of Sturgis once called him "ostrobogulous", or "weirdo."
  • He considers buying a chair with a cup holder from his romantic rival, Ira Rosenbloom (Richard Kind), a Jewish furniture store proprietor. He sees becoming his friend over time.
  • He has no children as he revealed in Sheldon's college video in “A Secret Letter and a Lowly Disc of Processed Meat”.
  • John Sturgis has Sheldon's personality, but he doesn't have Sheldon arrogant and egocentric behavior.
  • He describes Sheldon as "like a little me but without corrective shoes".
  • Dr. Sturgis has incredible reflexes when it comes to catching incoming small objects, despite his old age, as demonstrated when he effortlessly caught a football thrown by George and when he repeatedly caught small food items thrown at him by Meemaw, at her request to do so.
  • It is unknown if Sturgis, along with Dr. Linkletter and Dale, is alive during the events of The Big Bang Theory.
  • Sturgis was correct when he told Meemaw that Sheldon will probably win the Nobel prize, as Sheldon does in the TBBT finale "The Stockholm Syndrome".
v · e · d
Young Sheldon Characters
Main Characters Main Sheldon Cooper  ‧  Mary Cooper  ‧  George Cooper Sr.  ‧  George Cooper Jr.  ‧  Missy Cooper  ‧  Meemaw  ‧  Jeff Difford  ‧  Billy Sparks  ‧  Amanda McAllister
Recurring and Minor Characters John Sturgis  ‧ Tam Nguyen  ‧  Paige Swanson  ‧  Veronica Duncan  ‧  Brenda Sparks  ‧  Herschel Sparks  ‧  Victoria McElroy  ‧  Evelyn Ingram  ‧  Wayne Wilkins  ‧  Hubert Givens  ‧  Sheryl Hutchins  ‧  Gene Lundy  ‧  Tom Petersen  ‧  Le Nguyen  ‧  Trang Nguyen  ‧  Mai Nguyen  ‧  Kim-Ly Nguyen   ‧  Barry Swanson  ‧  Linda Swanson  ‧  Erica Swanson  ‧  Dale Ballard  ‧  Selena  ‧  Robin Difford  ‧  Jana  ‧  Marcus Larson  ‧  June  ‧  Grant Linkletter  ‧ Linda Hagemeyer  ‧ Pat  ‧ Professor Boucher  ‧ Jim McAllister  ‧ Audrey McAllister  ‧ Amber