Born and schooled in Montrose in the north east of Scotland, James went on to move down to Glasgow to pursue a Masters in Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde. In the course of his undergraduate studies, he took part in an Erasmus study abroad placement at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France where he furthered his education in chemistry and followed additional French classes. Thereafter, he completed a year-long internship with Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany. While in Germany he assisted with electrolyte development for application in dye sensitised solar cells and established an interest in sustainable energy generation. This interest encouraged him to apply to the fuel cells doctoral training programme.
James recently took part in a European exchange programme called Pioneers into Practice. The programme saw him complete work placements with Birmingham City Council, where he conducted a review of best practice in waste management, and with Infraserv Höchst in Frankfurt, Germany, where he calculated the carbon footprint of a sewage sludge incineration procedure. Both placements involved assessing the environmental sustainability of the organisations’ current practices, and making recommendations for possible improvements. Through his participation in the programme, James has developed a broad interest in industrial resource efficiency and the circular economy.