Jim received his Ph.D. in African History in 1984 from The Johns Hopkins University. Since then, he has received numerous grants and fellowships.


He served as a Fulbright Teaching and Research Professor, University of Botswana, in 2018-2019 and as a Research Fellow at the University of Shanghai in the spring of 2018. He received a Rachel Carson Center Fellowship at Ludwig-Maximillans Universitat (LMU) in 2017 and was at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2015. In 2011-2013 he received a Grant for Scholarly Writing in Biomedicine and Health from the National Institutes of Medicine. He received a grant for Research in Historical Epidemiology of African Malaria from the Wellcome Trust in 2010.

Jim is the author of The Guts of the Matter: A Global History of Human Waste and Infectious Intestinal Disease (Cambridge University Press, 2020); The Long Struggle Against Malaria in Tropical Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2014); Global Health In Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control (Ohio University Press, 2013), co-edited with T. Giles-Vernick; Humanity’s Burden: A Global History of Malaria (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Tropical Pioneers: Human Agency and Ecological Change in the Highlands of Sri Lanka, 1800-1900 (Ohio University Press, 2002); and Desert Frontier: Ecological and Economic Change along the Western Sahel, 1600-1850 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995).