John Rowley

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Dr. John Rowley is an alumnus of Houghton College, with a BS in chemistry, he joined the faculty after completing his PhD with Prof. Geoffrey Coates at Cornell University. His graduate research resulted in the development of catalyst technology that is being commercially developed by Novomer.

In addition to teaching courses in the chemistry department, Dr. Rowley is also a member of the Science Honors faculty, and is developing an undergraduate research program in the area of biodegradable plastics. He particularly enjoys illustrating chemical concepts with classroom demonstrations, and outside of the classroom he spends his time with his wife and daughters, playing soccer, cycling, and backpacking in the Adirondacks.


  • M.S., Ph.D., Cornell University (2005, 2008)
  • B.S., Houghton College (2003)

Courses Taught:

General Chemistry II, Analytical Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Principles of Chemistry, Physical Chemistry I and II, Senior Capstone: Chemistry Seminar, Research in Chemistry, Science Honors: Alternative Energy, Science Honors: Climate Change

Research Interests:

The focus of my research is on the synthesis of biodegradable plastics or polymers. In contrast to the majority of current plastics, which are made from petroleum and decompose very slowly in the environment, the goals of my current research include synthesizing plastics from renewable resources, as well as synthesizing plastics that can be recycled by biological systems. I am particularly interested in the synthesis of biodegradable glycopolymers (plastics which contain pendant sugar groups), as these molecules may be able to interact with cells by mimicking the surface of the cell membrane. The biological activity and biodegradability of these new materials could find application in a range of biomedical technologies, and we are currently engaged in developing robust and efficient methods to synthesize novel biodegradable glycopolymers.

Selected Publications:

  • Rowley, J. M., Lobkovsky, E. B., Coates, G. W. (2007). “Catalytic Double Carbonylation of Epoxides to Succinic Anhydrides: Catalyst Discovery, Reaction Scope, and Mechanism.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 127: 4948-4960.
  • Johnson, J. B., Bercot, E. A., Rowley, J. M., Coates, G. W., Rovis, T. (2007). “Ligand-Dependent Catalytic Cycle and Role of Styrene in Nickel-Catalyzed Anhydride Cross-Coupling: Evidence for Turnover-Limiting Reductive Elimination.” J. Am. Chem. Soc.127: 2718-2725.
  • Jeske, R. C., Rowley, J. M., Coates, G. W. (2008). “Pre-Rate-Determining Selectivity in the Terpolymerization of Epoxides, Cyclic Anhydrides, and CO2: A One-Step Route to Diblock Copolymers.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 47: 6041-6044.
  • Liang, Y.; Hnatiuk, N.; Rowley, J. M.; Whiting, B. T.; Coates, G. W. Rablen, P. R.; Morton, M.; Howell, A. R. (2011). “Access to Oxetane-Containing psico-Nucleosides from 2-Methyleneoxetanes: A Role for Neighboring Group Participation?” J. Org. Chem.76: 9962-9974.
Pen Icon

Send Me
An Email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.