Jim Wilkes was born in 1932 in Southampton, England. He obtained his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge in 1955. The English-Speaking Union awarded him a King George VI Memorial Fellowship to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, from which he received a master's degree in 1956 and a PhD in 1963. He was also a faculty member in chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge from 1956 to 1960, and at the University of Michigan from 1960 to 2000. At Michigan, he was department chairman from 1971 to 1977, and assistant dean for admissions in the College of Engineering from 1989 to 1994. He received the two highest University of Michigan awards for classroom teaching—the Amoco Good Teaching Award (1987), and an Arthur F. Thurnau named professorship (1989). Before retiring in 2000, his research interests were in numerical methods, polymer processing, underground storage of natural gas, and computational fluid mechanics.
Jim received his organ performance diploma, Associate of the Trinity College of Music (London), in 1951, and his Service-Playing Certificate from the American Guild of Organists in 1981. In addition to music, his hobbies include hiking in North Wales, New Zealand, and the American West; tennis; gardening; reading; and writing. He is author of
Pipe Organs of Ann Arbor (1995), A Century of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan (2002), and coauthor of Applied Numerical Methods (Wiley, 1969) and Digital Computing and Numerical Methods (Wiley, 1973). The second edition of his most recent book, Fluid Mechanics for Chemical Engineers, was published by Prentice Hall in 2006. In December 2007, he was elected a bye-fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.