James McLurkin was born in 1972 in Baldwin, New York. His mother was a speech therapist on Long Island; and, his father, a business manager for AT&T.
In 1988, Dr.McLurkin built his first robot, Rover, and quickly followed it with many other designs such as LEGO bricks. He also programed self-designed video games. Following graduation from Baldwin High School, McLurkin enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering in 1995. McLurkin continued his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated in 1999 with his M.S. in electrical engineering. He returned to MIT and went on to receive his M.S. degree in computer science in 2003, and his Ph.D. in computer science in 2008.
He worked as an intern at General Motors Advanced Technology Group in 1994, and remained there until he entered graduate school. From 1995 to 1997, he was assigned as research assistant to Dr. Rodney Brooks at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He designed the “Robotic Ants” robots for his undergraduate thesis.1n 1998 he did consulting working on projects with Walt Disney Imagineering and IRobot Corporation. Dr. McLurkin created the “SwarmBots” robots during his five-year tenure as lead research scientist at iRob
Dr. McLurkin was apointed as assistant professor at Rice University in 2009 . His core research has centered around developing distributed algorithms for multi-robot systems – the software for large swarms of autonomous robots (IE robotic ants ).