James was raised in Kansas and studied as an undergraduate student at Wichita State University. He graduated summa cum laude in 2007 with a BS in chemistry and a BA in spanish with a minor in russian. James then enrolled at Yale University, where he completed his PhD in chemistry in 2012. He then joined Harry Gray's group as a postdoctoral fellow in the NSF Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels, prior to receiving his Resnick fellowship. James' research focused on using the tools of inorganic chemistry to address challenges in catalysis, solar-energy conversion, and sustainability.
James is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas.