James' research interests are diverse within coral reef science and include diseases, reproductive and larval ecology, recruitment dynamics, long term community change, bleaching and restoration ecology and include use of various techniques ranging from large scale manipulative field ecology experiments to molecular biology methods including fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) and next generation sequencing of coral symbionts.
He has lived in five countries and worked with a diverse group of scientists from a range of disciplines in large, international multi-disciplinary research groups. For example, between 2005 and 2008 he was employed by Newcastle University (UK) as part of an international European Union funded project, involving a consortium of scientists from six countries, to investigate reef restoration techniques on degraded reefs in the Philippines.
He was also appointed as a member of the Reef Restoration Working Group of the Coral Reef Targeted Research program of the World Bank-Global Environment Facility (GEF-CRTR, www.gefcoral.org), a multi-million dollar five year incentive to investigate some of the most pressing problems facing coral reefs. An impact case study based on this work received a 4 star rating in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework indicative of research quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
He was awarded a prestigious three year Lee Kuan Yew Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2009 and between 2012 and 2014 held a senior research fellowship jointly with the University of New South Wales and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU) to coordinate multidisciplinary research activities among a group of 17 marine ecologists and molecular biologists from Australia and Singapore.
During 2016 and 2017 he was a Powell Center Fellow at the University of Hawai'i's Institute of Marine Biology, investigating methods of identifying resilient coral reefs against a backdrop of degradation. He currently leads a European Research Council Consolidator Grant at Newcastle University to bring together the various branches of my research and to assemble a world class research team to tackle questions facing tropical coral reefs.