Geoffrey W. Coates was born in 1966 in Evansville Indiana. He received a B.A. degree in Chemistry from Wabash College in 1989 and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Stanford University in 1994. His thesis work, under the direction of Robert M. Waymouth, investigated the stereoselectivity of metallocene-based Ziegler-Natta catalysts. Following his doctoral studies, he was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow with Robert H. Grubbs at the California Institute of Technology. During the summer of 1997 he joined the faculty of Cornell University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001, and to Professor in 2002. He was appointed to the first Tisch University Professorship in 2008.
The research focus of the Coates Group is the development of new catalysts for the synthesis of macromolecules as well as small molecules. Professor Coates’ research concentrates on developing new methods for reacting commodity feedstocks in unprecedented ways. His current research centers on the development of homogeneous catalysts for olefin polymerization, heterocycle carbonylation, epoxide homo- and copolymerization, and the utilization of carbon dioxide in polymer synthesis.
Professor Coates is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, and has received awards from the ACS (A. C. Cope Scholar Award, Affordable Green Chemistry Award, A. K. Doolittle Award, Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award, and Akron Section Award), NSF (CAREER), MIT Technology Review Magazine (TR 100 Award), Research Corporation (Innovation Award), Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation (Young Investigator Award), David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Fellowship in Science and Engineering), and Dreyfus Foundation (Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty and Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards). In 2006, he received the Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award at Cornell University and became a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2011 he was identified by Thomson Reuters as one of the world’s top 100 chemists on the basis of the impact of his scientific research, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He received the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award and the DSM Performance Materials Award in 2012. In 2015, he received the ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science, and received the Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success from the ACS in 2016. In 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
He is the scientific cofounder of Novomer and Ecolectro, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of KensaGroup. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Journal of Polymer Science, Chemical Reviews, ChemCatChem, Dalton Transactions, Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis, Advances in Polymer Science and Organic Chemistry Frontiers. He is an Associate Editor of Macromolecules.