Jim Plummer was born in Toronto, Canada. He obtained his BS degree from UCLA and his MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. After graduating from Stanford, he worked as a research staff member in the Integrated Circuits Lab at Stanford for several years before joining the Stanford faculty in 1978 as an associate professor. He became professor of electrical engineering in 1983.
His career at Stanford has included serving as director of the IC Laboratory, senior associate dean in the School of Engineering, and chair of the Electrical Engineering Department. He was the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the School of Engineering from 1999 until 2014. He also holds the John Fluke Professorship in Electrical Engineering. During his tenure as dean, the school renewed or replaced much of its laboratory and classroom space, dramatically increased the number of students majoring in engineering and created interdisciplinary programs like the Bioengineering Department, which is jointly operated with the medical school, and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) that changed the nature of engineering education. Plummer was a strong advocate as dean, for ensuring that engineering majors take advantage of the full set of opportunities at a liberal arts institution like Stanford.
Plummer has worked in a variety of areas in the broad field of silicon devices and technology. Much of his early work focused on high-voltage ICs and on high-voltage device structures. He and his group made important contributions to integrating CMOS logic and high-voltage lateral DMOS devices on the same chip and demonstrated circuits operating at several hundred volts. This work also led to several power MOS device concepts such as the IGBT which have become important power switching devices.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s, a major focus of his work was on silicon process modeling. This work involved many students and other faculty, particularly Professor Bob Dutton, and resulted in the development of several generations of SUPREM, which has become the standard process modeling tool used worldwide today. His recent work has focused on nanoscale silicon devices for logic and memory and has demonstrated new device concepts such as the TRAM thyristor based memory cell and the IMOS device which achieves