“In Pursuit of the Perfect Plastic” is the title of a lecture that will be given at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, in Woulfe Alumni Hall of the Anderson Student Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Dr. Geoffrey Coates

Dr. Geoffrey Coates

Dr. Geoffrey Coates, the Tisch University professor and associate chair of chemistry at Cornell University will discuss his groundbreaking research in polymer synthesis.

Free and open to the public, the Distinguished Larson Lecture is sponsored by St. Thomas’ Chemistry Department. More information is available at on the department’s website.

Coates explains that society depends on polymeric materials now more than at any time in history, and these materials are used for applications as diverse as packaging and structural materials to biomedical and electronic devices.

How these are made and what happens to them when discarded pose environmental challenges.

“The focus of our research is the development of new routes to polymers with reduced environmental impact,” he said. “In this work, we aim to transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources. In addition, we are designing materials that will eventually degrade into nontoxic materials and have properties comparable to current commodity plastics.”

Coates also will deliver a more technical lecture, “New Polymers From Old Monomers: Advances Enabled Through Catalyst Design and Discovery,” at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in Room 126 of the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts.

Coates has been an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and received numerous awards for his work, including a National Science Foundation Career Award, Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award and the Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award.