Shimer Great Books

James Donovan, PhD

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School


Profile Picture

James Donovan PhD received his BS in Chemistry and Physics from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and his PhD in Biophysics from the University of Chicago in 1979.

Naturally interdisciplinary, JD, as friends call him, has always worked at the interface between disciplines, residing in departments ranging from Physics to Physiology.  He now serves as a member of the faculty of North Central's Shimer Great Books School.  In the Shimer School, JD teaches the full range of the core sciences courses.  He is also interested in the interface of science with other fields, from cooking to theology to the stock market. 

Before joining the Shimer faculty, he was a Senior Research Scientist and President of the ADD Technical Advisory Board at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago.   He also served as the Midwest Training Director for Habitat for Humanity.

A large, lumbering figure with a moustache, JD faintly reminds you of a walrus with a PhD.  Always ready with a joke, feel free to ask him for one or tell him one of your own. 


Selected Electives Taught



Introduction to Cosmology

Physics of Music and Sound

Origins: Religious and Scientific Explanations of the World’s Existence and Fate

Great Equations: Beauty in Art, Mathematics and Physics

Changing Models of the Universe



Selected Scholarship


Donovan, JJ. 2017, First Principle Calculation of Vacuum Energy, Phys. Rev. Let. (In review.)

Donovan, JJ. 2001. Teaching Science Historically Instead of Teaching the History of Science. in The Wider World of Core Texts and Courses, A. Brunello, M. Chiariello, and J.S. Lee, Eds., Association for Core Texts and Courses 2001, pp 85-89

Tarcha P, Misun D, Finley D, Wong M, and Donovan JJ. 1991. Synthesis, analysis and immunodiagnostic applications of poly(pyrrole) latex and its derivatives in Polymer Latexes: Preparation, Characterization and Applications, E.S. Daniels, E.D. Sudol, and M.S. El-Aasser, Eds., ACS Symposium Series 492, p. 347- 367

Shiver JW; Donovan JJ. 1987. Interactions of diphtheria toxin with lipid vesicles: determinants of ion channel formation. Biochim Biophys Acta 903 p48-55

Donovan JJ; Simon MI; Montal M. 1982. Insertion of diphtheria toxin into and across membranes: role of phosphoinositide asymmetry. Nature 298 p669-72

Donovan JJ; Simon MI; Draper RK; Montal M. 1981. Diphtheria toxin forms transmembrane channels in planar lipid bilayers. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 78 p172-6

Donovan JJ; Latorre R. 1979. Inactivation of the alamethicin-induced conductance caused by quaternary ammonium ions and local anesthetics. J Gen Physiol 73 p425-51



Immunoassay Using Microparticle Neutralization

Indicator Reagents, Diagnostic Assays and Test Kits Employing Organic Polymer Latex Particles

Immunoassay with Built-in Confirmation