John White graduated from the University of Sydney with a BSc (hons) and received his MSc and PhD at Oxford University. He has since held positions at Institut Laue langevin, Grenoble (1975-1980) and Oxford University (1963-1985) before being appointed Professor at the Research School of Chemistry. Professor John White is also president of the Asia Oceania Neutron Scattering Association (AONSA).
He has been awarded fellowships of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1982), the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (1986), the Australian Institute of Physics (1986), the Royal Society of London (1993) and the Australian Academy of Sciences (1991). He has received the H. G. Smith Medal (1997), the Craig Medal (2005) and the Leighton Medal (2005).