Jim holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, which he received in 1992. That was followed by several years of post-doctoral work, culminating in a stint with the title Research Professor. In 1987, he earned a master's degree in the same field.
Jim's scientific specialty was point defects -- molecular-scale imperfections with real-world consequences -- in materials of technological interest, including materials used in photographic films and electronic devices. He used nuclear physics methods to study these tiny imperfections. During his scientific career, Jim authored or co-authored approximately 20 peer-reviewed scientific articles, all in top-tier journals. He also co-edited a book, Accelerator-Based Atomic Physics Techniques and Applications, with Stephen Shafroth.
In earlier days, Jim was Valedictorian at Ft. Pierce Central High School in Ft. Pierce, Florida, the top student in a class of about 500. After high school, he earned a bachelor's degree, majoring in physics, from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, widely regarded as one of the top three small liberal arts colleges in the United States (with Williams and Amherst). At Swarthmore, Jim also studied English literature with an emphasis on theater. Never an actor, Jim's interest was in writing, direction, and production. After graduating, Jim did a stint as a newspaper reporter at The Messenger, a small paper in north-central North Carolina, where he covered church socials, public works, oddly shaped and over-sized vegetables, and wrote his own column about whatever he wanted to write about. He got a pay raise to go to graduate school, so he put his writing career on hold about a decade.
In the late 1990s, Jim made a major and abrupt career change, leaving science to pursue a career in writing and editing. He founded The Post-Careerist, an online magazine that endeavored to refocus notions of work and leisure, drawing on the ideas of the Epicurians, Henry David Thoreau, and the Nearings, among others. The Post-Careerist published excellent writing by prominent writers and generated a loyal, diverse, and smart audience. The Post-Careerist hasn't been updated in years, but I recently returned it to the Web, at http://www.post-careerist.com.
At the beginning of the new millennium, Jim also became Science Editor at the pioneering online publication BlueEar.com -- another defunct publication, founded by journalist Ethan Casey. At BlueEar, Jim started one of the very first science blogs, circa 2000. The stint as BlueEar's science editor was Jim's first real step into science journalism. Just a few months later, Jim joined AAAS as an editor for Science's Next Wave, the online careers publication of Science and AAAS. Several years later, Science's Next Wave was renamed -- it's now Science Careers -- and not long after that, Jim became Science Careers' editor.
For 14 years, Jim was an editor and writer at Science, where he published dozens of articles on scientific topics, in print and online, most but not all on career issues.