Professor Jim McDonald joined Strathclyde University in 1984 and was appointed Rolls-Royce Professor of Electrical Power Systems in 1993. He advises government, industry and commerce on power networks, distributed generation and renewable energy. He is Chairman of the Institute for Energy and Environment, the largest power engineering and energy systems research group internationally. He was appointed Deputy Principal in 2006 focussing on research enhancement and commercialisation.
In August 2009 he was appointed as Chairman of the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering (SRPE), part of a major research pooling investment across Scotland. He is a member of the Scottish Enterprise Board and was a member of the UK Trade and Investment Energy Excellence Board.
He chairs the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) that involves the energy research intensive Scottish universities. He co-chairs (with the First Minister) the Energy Advisory Board in Scotland. He became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in March 2009.
He is Chairman of the Independent Economic Commission for the City of Glasgow, and Chairman of the Board of the Glasgow Science Centre.