James Walker obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Washington in 1978. He subsequently served as a post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at San Diego before joining the physics faculty at Washington State University in 1983. Professor Walker’s research interests include statistical mechanics, critical phenomena, and chaos. His many publications on the application of renormalization group theory to systems ranging from absorbed monolayers to binary-fluid mixtures have appeared in Physical Review, Physical Review Letters, Physica, and a host of other publications. He has also participated in observations on the summit of Mauna Kea, looking for evidence of extrasolar planets.
Walker likes to work with students at all levels, from judging elementary school science fairs to writing research papers with graduate students, and has taught introductory physics for many years. His enjoyment of this course and his empathy for students have earned him a reputation as an innovative, enthusiastic, and effective teacher. James' educational publications include “Reappearing Phases” (Scientific American, May 1987) as well as articles in the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher. In recognition of his contributions to the teaching of physics at Washington State University, James was named Boeing Distinguished Professor of Science and Mathematics Education for 2001–2003.
When he is not writing, conducting research, teaching, or developing new classroom demonstrations and pedagogical materials, James enjoys amateur astronomy, eclipse chasing, bird and dragonfly watching, photography, juggling, unicyling, boogie boarding, and kayaking. James is also an avid jazz pianist and organist. He has served as ballpark organist for a number of Class A minor league baseball teams, including the Bellingham Mariners, an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. He can play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in his sleep.