Researcher biography

Chris James' research is in the fields of experimental hypersonics, hypersonic aerothermodynamics, and planetary entry. His research combines two important and intertwined parts of these fields: the development and understanding of hypersonic test facilities and the performing and analysing of experiments in them. Chris' 28 journal papers, 2 technical notes, and 59 conference publications cover the design, improvement, and simulation of high enthalpy hypersonic facilities such as expansion tubes and shock tunnels, the application and improvement of physical, optical, and radio-based techniques performed on these facilities, non-equilibrium radiation measurements for entry into many planets in the solar system, re-entry observation measurements, and impulse facility ablation testing.

Chris graduated from Mechanical Engineering at UQ in 2012. Following this, he completed his PhD in the Centre for Hypersonics at the University of Queensland (UQ).

During his PhD he developed very high speed Uranus and Saturn entry conditions which were used to perform the fastest experiments which have ever been performed in an expansion tube, as well as developing expansion tube simulation and analysis codes which are now widely used in the Centre for Hypersonics and around the world. He also enrolled in a cotutelle program with École Centrale Paris in Paris, France, and after being awarded an Eiffel Excellence Scholarship by the French government, he passed a year on exchange in Paris, France. In France, Chris was working on developing the capability to perform radiating simulations to support his experimental work at UQ.

Post PhD he was employed in the Centre for Hypersonics helping to develop the X3R reflected shock tunnel, while also supervising and conducting expansion tube research on the X2 expansion tube at UQ.

In 2020, Chris took on a lecturing position for the year and was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) DECRA early career fellowship to study Mars return conditions with heated test models at UQ from 2021 to 2023. He was the 2020 recipient of the UQ EAIT Faculty Early Career Researcher Award and in 2021 a paper he presented was awarded the 2021 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Ground Test Best Paper Award at the 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum.

in 2020 he participated in the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) led re-entry observation mission of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2 re-entry over Woomera, South Australia and in 2022 he led the UQ contingent on the once again UniSQ led re-entry observation mission of the NASA OSIRIS-REx re-entry in the US.

He is now employed at UQ as a UQ Amplify Senior Lecturer where he continues to perform research in giant planet entry through an ARC Discovery Project which he received with his colleague Professor Richard Morgan and continues to develop and improve UQ's X2 expansion tube.

Chris lectures in the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering at UQ. He lectures both hypersonics and space engineering, covering varied topics such as high temperature gas dynamics, hypersonic test facilities, rarefied gas dynamics, orbital mechanics, rocket trajectories, spacecraft design, spacecraft thermal and power management, and planetary entry.

He has written six popular science article for The Conversation with a more than 200,000 combined reads, and has been interviewed for Youtube and radio many times. He has given invited talks at the University of Oxford and the Engineers Australia Continuing Professional Development seminar series.

Areas of research