Dr. James D. Spain

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  • BS Chemistry 1951

James Spain was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Arlington, Virginia.  At the age of 11, he moved to Florida, and at 17 to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he graduated from High School.  He earned a BS in Chemistry from Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University) in 1951.  He went on to earn his MS in Biochemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1953 and his PhD in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1956, followed by post-doctoral research at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas.

In the fall of 1956 Jim joined Michigan Tech as Assistant Professor of Chemistry.  In 1962 he became Professor and Head of the Department of Biological Sciences while continuing the research of cancer which was initiated during his graduate years.  In 1968 he stepped down from department head to focus on teaching, and research in limnology.  In 1978 his interest had changed to computer programming as it relates to biological sciences.

Following an early retirement from Michigan Tech in 1984, he was appointed the Director of Instructional Computing at Eastern Michigan University.  Then in 1985, Jim moved on to Clemson University where he was a Lecturer in general chemistry and director of computerized instruction in chemistry. 

Jim retired from teaching in 1995 to start the company, Electronic Homework Systems, with the help of his wife, Pat.  He created and published a software program, Chem Skill Builder, which for the first time provided an encrypted record of the student’s work, to the instructor.  Over 750,000 copies of this software were sold to college and AP Chemistry students across the country from (1995-2011).

Jim has written 25 research articles in professional journals and co-wrote two textbooks on the application of computers to biological sciences and numerous instructional software programs.  Most recently Jim has completed his personal autobiography, Perusing for Pioneer Pathways, available on Amazon.com.