A native of California, Jim has been going to sea for most of his life. Jim grew up by the ocean in Southern California, did his undergraduate work in geology at Pomona College, and received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Wyoming. In 1966 he joined the faculty of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Washington, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Department of Biomathematics. In 1970-71 he was Fulbright Professor at the University of Athens and Senior Research Scientist at the Democritos Greek Atomic Energy Commission.
During his nine years at the University of Washington he conducted research on most of the world’s oceans, primarily on the biological productivity of the coastal zone. From 1970 until 1975 he carried out research on coastal upwelling along the west coast of Africa from Morocco to Côte d’Ivoire and lived in the Canary Islands in 1974. In 1975 he became Dean of the College of Science and Engineering and Professor of Oceanography at San Francisco State University. From 1981 to 1993 he served as President of the California Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Academy and a Fellow of the Explorers Club.
Now retired form academic life, Jim lives in the Sierra Nevada. He has worked with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic as a naturalist and expedition leader since 1985. He is interested in the geology, oceanography, and meteorology of the places we visit, as well as their human history and history of exploration. He has sailed with Lindblad-National Geographic from the Arctic to the Antarctic and most places in between.