James Drake's research focus is on the theory and modeling of plasmas with applications to laboratory, space and astrophysical systems. He has made important contributions to the understanding of laser-plasma interactions, plasma turbulence and magnetic reconnection. On the topic of magnetic reconnection he and his students and colleagues have made key discoveries on the mechanisms that control the rate of reconnection, its explosive onset and the production of energetic particles. Collaborations with scientists with access to laboratory and satellite data have tested his models against reality. He is a UMD Distinguished University Professor.