Following a Masters’ degree in Natural Sciences (geology, mathematics, physics and chemistry) in 2004, James worked as a GIS specialist at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge. Responsibilities included overseeing all undergraduate teaching in ArcGIS for geological mapping, as well as contributing research and imagery to a series of popular science books describing the landscape evolution of the UK. He also provided GIS support to the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Project, developing geotectonic models for the evolution of the Arctic Basin.
Since 2010, James’ research has focused on spatio-temporal modelling of surface and groundwater hydrology and geochemistry, with a particular emphasis on the relationships between land use, climate change and water resources. Before moving to NIVA, he worked at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, where he led a number of Scottish Government work packages including “Water Futures”, “Hydropower” and “Impacts of Change on Water”. He has worked closely with policy makers and environmental regulators at the Scottish Government, providing modelling results for Scotland’s four-yearly review of the EU Nitrates Directive, as well as contributing research to support the second cycle of River Basin Management Planning under the EU Water Framework Directive.
James is especially interested in how environmental models can or cannot be used to effectively support practical decision making. Key research challenges in this area include issues of scale, complexity, uncertainty and communication. His recent research projects have explored varied modelling approaches, ranging from the application of dynamic, process-based models calibrated using Bayesian MCMC methods, to simpler, qualitative risk classification frameworks underpinned by expert elicitation.