James received a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University. His research seeks to explain stratification and inequality from a social psychological and organizational perspective. One of his core interests is when and how status and reputation systems lead people into greater conflict and inequality. His dissertation explores how the spread of ranking systems (such as those for colleges or hospitals) exacerbates social inequality and why certain ranking systems become dominant while others fall into obscurity. James grew up in Taiwan, and his free time currently revolves around mentoring high schoolers, computer games, rock climbing, and hiking.