James graduated from the University of Warwick (2000) in Physics, before completing Maths Part III at Cambridge (2001). James then studied for a joint PhD in Biology and Theoretical Physics at the University of Warwick, with supervision from Professors Andrew Millar and Matthew Turner. During his PhD James used an iterative process of experiment and theory to propose a new feedback loop in the plant circadian (24-hour) clock. For this work he was awarded the Promega Young Geneticist of the Year award (2007). As first an EMBO Research Fellow and then a Human Frontiers Fellow, James conducted his postdoctoral work in the lab of Professor Michael Elowitz at the California Institute of Technology. He applied single cell time-lapse microscopy, modelling, and synthetic biology techniques to understand how cells amplify small molecule differences (noise) into alternative transcriptional states. He co-discovered a novel mode of prokaryotic signal encoding, frequency modulated pulsing. Since 2012 he has been a group leader at the Sainsbury laboratory investigating gene expression dynamics in microbial and plant systems. He was awarded the Merrimack-CSB2 Prize in Systems Biology in 2013.