- Ph.D., Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, 2018
- M.S., Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, 2014
- B.S., Creative Writing and Environmental Science, Oberlin College, 2012
- 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Operation and Emergency Response Certification (HAZWOPER)
- Certified Associate Professional Soil Scientist (APSS)
- Member, Soil Science Society of America
- Member, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
Dr. James is a soil scientist specializing in forest management and biogeochemistry. His work explores the environmental impacts of anthropogenic activities such as forest harvesting, prescribed fire, mining, and oil spills.
Dr. James' expertise is analyzing complex ecological and chemical datasets at scales ranging from the whole globe to soil pores using multivariate statistics and machine learning techniques. His research experience includes:
- Sampling soil and groundwater as part of a remedial investigation on a site potentially contaminated with petroleum, heavy metals, and dioxins/furans.
- Tracking the fate and composition of organic matter in fifteen major rivers across the US.
- Investigating the composition of groundwater impacted by petroleum and the biodegradation products from the natural attenuation of oil in soils and sediments using GCxGC mass spectroscopy and Orbitrap liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy.
- Studying the fate and remediation of inorganics and heavy metals such as lead, barium, arsenic, zinc, and cadmium in environments ranging from tropical to arctic in the context of risk assessment and risk management.
- Synthesizing the scientific literature through meta-analysis and systematic reviews, particularly focusing on the effects of land use change, natural resource management, and climate on forest and agricultural soils around the globe.
Dr. James has consulted for both government and industry clients, focusing on remediating heavy metals contamination from mines and smelters to prevent ecological and human health effects. He has also worked with industrial forest resource companies, non-profits, and the US Forest Service to provide research that facilitates context-specific decision-making.
Dr. James has expertise in evaluating organic matter structure, composition, and fate in both terrestrial soils and freshwater ecosystems. He has used chromatography and spectroscopy of soil and dissolved organic matter in both natural and oil spill contexts across spatial scales ranging from soil pores to whole continents. He examines multi-dimensional organic matter datasets using multivariate and machine learning statistical tools including ordinations, hierarchical clustering, PERMANOVA, and partial least squares regression to identify how shifts in organic matter composition relate to climate, remotely sensed indices of vegetation growth (NDVI & EVI), land use, and anthropogenic activities. He has also used these techniques to evaluate the natural attenuation, transformation, and degradation of dissolved hydrocarbons that affect environmental fate and transport.