Applying quantitative, mixed methods, and culturally responsive research practices, Jim’s work at NORC focuses on three main subjects: graduate education (particularly in STEM fields), campus and professional climates, and postsecondary access and success.
Underlying all his work is a dedication to equity and justice. Jim currently serves as the principal investigator (PI) of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project, Career Trajectories of STEM Doctoral Students: An Exploratory Study of Latent Groups using Culturally Responsive Measures and Methods, a mixed-methods collaboration with three institutions (North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) to broaden understanding of various motivational, contextual, and socio-political factors shaping career pathways of advanced STEM trainees, focusing on those from groups historically excluded from STEM fields. Along with NORC colleagues, he also helped to design, administer, and analyze a survey of graduate school deans to identify the impacts of COVID-19 as well as the innovative practices graduate schools implemented to meet those challenges. In February 2021, NSF Director Panchanathan specifically highlighted this project to the National Science Board, noting its potential to “help graduate programs rethink relations between teaching methods and technology to better support students.” Jim also helped lead an exploratory study to assess the utility of using data science techniques to collect and analyze existent data on the academic outcomes, career trajectories, and scientific productivity of applicants and awardees of the NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
Jim has also provided leadership on numerous projects gauging the perceived professional culture and campus climate in higher education, including serving as PI for a faculty climate survey at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the annual community survey at Boston University School of Public Health, and a Kauffman Foundation-funded study of scholars of entrepreneurship and innovation. He is also a lead contributor on an NSF ADVANCE project developing a “matrix of metrics” to measure the effectiveness of anti-harassment efforts in STEM academic environments. Jim’s work in postsecondary access and success includes his current work on a summative evaluation of Kauffman Scholars, Inc., a multi-year program designed to help urban students in Kansas City access, pay for, and earn postsecondary credentials and diversify the local career-professional pipeline. He also completed a detailed analysis of the Survey of Educational Attainment, funded by the ECMC Foundation, to explore the prevalence of career and technical credentials (e.g., licenses, certificates, and apprenticeships), factors associated with quality programs, and their potential “return on investment,” particularly for individuals without traditional college degrees.
In addition, Jim has particular expertise in college student disciplinary systems, based both on his years of professional experience and his research into their fairness, efficacy, and equity. Drawing upon novel statistical techniques for conducting intersectional analyses using quantitative methods and a unique national dataset, his work identified disparities at the intersections of race and gender throughout all phases of college disciplinary processes. He has also studied college students’ leadership capacity and developmental pathways, campus climate across diverse student populations, and numerous campus crime and safety issues, including sexual violence, threat assessment, and high-risk alcohol and drug use.
Prior to NORC, Jim served as a college student affairs professional, an adjunct professor of higher education, and legal counsel to multiple educational institutions. His higher education career spans work at (among others) Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, the University of Maryland, and the University of Virginia.
Loyola University Chicago
University of Maryland
University of Notre Dame
University of Virgina
Appointments & Affiliations
Research in Brief Review Board
Journal of College Student Development
Press Release | April 27, 2023
opens in new tab"Characteristics, Quality, and Outcomes from Nontraditional Workforce Training Programs: Results from the Survey of Educational Attainment."
Project Report | December 21, 2020
Presentation | November 13, 2020