Geoffrey W. Coates

Tisch University Professor


Prof. Coates is the Tisch University Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University. His teaching and research interests involve science at the interface of organic, inorganic, and materials chemistry. The broader impacts of his research include benign polymers and chemical synthesis, the utilization of renewable resources, and materials safe and economical energy storage and conversion.

Research Focus

The research focus of my group is the development of new synthetic strategies for producing polymers of defined structure. The control of polymer composition, architecture, stereochemistry, and molecular weight allows the indirect control of polymer properties via polymer morphology. Our research projects are interdisciplinary, addressing problems at the interface of organic, inorganic, organometallic, and polymer chemistry.

Awards and Honors

2023    National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science
2022    Eni Award
2021    Gustavus John Esselen Award, American Chemical Society
2017    Election to the National Academy of Sciences
2017    Election to the National Academy of Inventors
2017    Newcomb Cleveland Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2016    Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success, American Chemical Society
2015    Award in Applied Polymer Science, American Chemical Society
2012    Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award
2011    Election to American Academy of Arts & Sciences
2009    Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society
2009    Award for Affordable Green Chemistry, American Chemical Society
2006    Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award
2001    Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, American Chemical Society
2000    David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering
2000    Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
2000    Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Young Investigator Award


•    Ye, R.; Sun, X.; Mao, X.; Alfonso, F. S.; Baral, S.; Liu, C.; Coates, G. W.; Chen, P. “Optical sequencing of single synthetic polymers” Nature Chemistry, 2024, 16, 210–217.
•    Zhou, Z.; LaPointe, A. M.; Coates, G. W. Atactic, Isotactic, and Syndiotactic Methylated Polyhydroxybutyrates: An Unexpected Series of Isomorphic Polymers” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2023, 145, 25983–25988.
•    Lu, Y.; Coates, G. W. “Pairing-Enhanced Regioselectivity: Synthesis of Alternating Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) from Racemic Methyl-Glycolide” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2023, 145, 22425–22432.
•    Zhou, Z.; LaPointe, A. M.; Shaffer, T. D.; Coates, G. W. “Nature-inspired methylated polyhydroxybutyrates from C1 and C4 feedstocks” Nature Chemistry, 2023, 15, 856–861.
•    Parke, S. M.; Lopez, J. C.; Cui, S.; LaPointe, A. M.; Coates, G. W. “Polyethylene Incorporating Diels-Alder Comonomers: A “Trojan Horse” Strategy for Chemically Recyclable Polyolefins”  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2023, 62, e202301927.
•    Hester, H. G.; Abel, B. A.; Coates, G. W. “Ultra-High Molecular Weight Poly(Dioxolane): Enhancing the Mechanical Performance of a Chemically Recyclable Polymer” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2023, 145, 8800–8804.
•    Arroyave, A.; Cui, S.; Lopez, J. C.; Kocen, A. L.; LaPointe, A. M.; Delferro, M.; Coates, G. W. “Catalytic Chemical Recycling of Post-Consumer Polyethylene” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 23280–23285.
•    Kocen, A. L.; Cui, S.; Lin, T.-W.; LaPointe, A. M.; Coates, G. W. “Chemically Recyclable Ester-Linked Polypropylene” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 12613–12618.
•    Popowski, Y.; Lu, Y.; Coates, G. W.; Tolman, W. B. “Stereocomplexation of Stereoregular Aliphatic Polyesters: Change from Amorphous to Semicrystalline Polymers with Single Stereocenter Inversion” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 8362–8370.
•    Abel, B. A.; Snyder, R. L.; Coates, G. W. “Chemically recyclable thermoplastics from reversible-deactivation polymerization of cyclic acetals” Science, 2021 373, 783–789.
•    Lu, Y.; Swisher, J. H.; Meyer, T. Y.; Coates, G. W. “Chirality-Directed Regioselectivity: An Approach for the Synthesis of Alternating Poly(Lactic-co-Glycolic Acid)” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 4119–4124.
•    You, W.; Ganley, J. M.; Ernst, B. G.; Peltier, C. R.; Ko, H.-Y.; DiStasio, Jr.; R. A.; Knowles, R. R.; Coates, G. W. “Expeditious synthesis of aromatic-free piperidinium-functionalized polyethylene as alkaline anion exchange membranes” Chem. Sci., 2021, 12, 3898–3910.
•    Lidston, C. A. L.; Abel, B. A.; Coates, G. W. “Bifunctional Catalysis Prevents Inhibition in Reversible-Deactivation Ring-Opening Copolymerizations of Epoxides and Cyclic Anhydrides” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 20161–20169.
•    Lamb, J. R.; Hubbell, A. K.; MacMillan, S. N.; Coates, G. W. “Carbonylative, Catalytic Deoxygenation of 2,3-Disubstituted Epoxides with Inversion of Stereochemistry: An Alternative Alkene Isomerization Method” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 8029–8035.
•    Lipinski, B. M.; Morris, L. S.; Silberstein, M. N.; Coates, G. W. “Isotactic Poly(Propylene Oxide): A Photodegradable Polymer with Strain Hardening Properties” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 6800–6806.
•    Sifri, R. J.; Padilla-Vélez, O.; Coates, G. W.; Fors, B. P. “Controlling the Shape of Molecular Weight Distributions in Coordination Polymerization and Its Impact on Physical Properties” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 1443–1448.
•    Abel, B. A.; Lidston, C. A. L.; Coates, G. W. “Mechanism-Inspired Design of Bifunctional Catalysts for the Alternating Ring-Opening Copolymerization of Epoxides and Cyclic Anhydrides” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 12760–12769.
•    Hubbell, A. K.; LaPointe, A. M.; Lamb, J. R.; Coates, G. W. “Regioselective Carbonylation of 2,2-Disubstituted Epoxides: An Alternative Route to Ketone-Based Aldol Products” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 2474–2480.
•    You, W.; Padgett, E.; MacMillan, S. N.; Muller, D. A.; Coates, G. W. “Highly Conductive and Chemically Stable Alkaline Anion Exchange Membranes via ROMP of trans-Cyclooctene Derivatives” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 2019, 116, 9729–9734.
•    Eagan, J. E.; Xu, J.; Di Girolamo, R.; Thurber, C. M.; Macosko, C. W.; LaPointe, A. M.; Bates, F. S.; Coates, G. W. “Combining Polyethylene and Polypropylene: Enhanced Performance with PE/iPP Multiblock Polymers” Science 2017, 355, 814−816.

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CHEM Courses - Spring 2024

CHEM Courses - Fall 2024