James Burns, Research Specialist in Dendrochronology, received a B.A. degree in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1976 and an Associate Degree in Applied Science – Digital Electronics from Pima Community College in 1982. He started work at the LTRR as a UA student in 1972 and joined the lab’s classified staff in 1976. He worked one year, 1982-1983, at Hughes Aircraft Company as an Electronic Technician. He returned to the LTRR in 1983.
In the 1970s, he did the tree-ring dating of bristlecone pine for Drs. Ferguson and Graybill. Jim dated the unknown remnants and cores collected in the field and in the lab’s archives. This work resulted in the Ferguson-Graybill 8000+ year BCP Chronology. Jim also helped Dr. Ferguson in “forensic” dendrochronology. For example, the ends from stolen saguaro plants were matched with the roots from the plants that were still in the ground. Enough matches were found to convict the saguaro thieves.
From 1983 to the present, Jim has been in charge of the X-ray densitometry facility at the laboratory. He has done extensive revision and development of the densitometry software and hardware and is presently upgrading the software for use on DOS computers. He has taught the lab’s densitometry procedures to scholars and students from around the world.
Jim also worked in Dr. Leavitt’s isotope laboratory where he helped with chemical preparation and isotope analysis. He has also helped train students and visitors in these techniques. Jim also does general electrical and mechanical repairs of the lab’s equipment in the measuring, densitometric, and isotopic areas of the LTRR.