David A. Tirrell is the Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor and former Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. After earning the B.S. in Chemistry at MIT, Tirrell enrolled in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, where he was awarded the Ph.D. in 1978 for work done under the supervision of Otto Vogl. After a brief stay with Takeo Saegusa at Kyoto University, Tirrell accepted an assistant professorship in the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie-Mellon University in the fall of 1978.
Tirrell returned to Amherst in 1984 and served as Director of the Materials Research Laboratory before moving to Caltech in 1998. He chaired the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from 1999 until 2009. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland, at the Institut Charles Sadron in Strasbourg, at the University of Wisconsin, and at the Institut Curie in Paris. He was Editor of the Journal of Polymer Science from 1988 until 1999, and has chaired the Gordon Research Conferences on Polymers in Biosystems and on Chemistry of Supramolecules and Assemblies.
Tirrell’s contributions to macromolecular chemistry have been recognized by his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He has been awarded the Arthur C. Cope Scholar, Carl Marvel, Harrison Howe, S. C. Lind and Madison Marshall Awards of the American Chemical Society, as well as the American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry. He holds the Chancellor’s Medal of the University of Massachusetts, the G. N. Lewis Medal of the University of California, Berkeley, and the degree of Doctor honoris causa from the Technical University of Eindhoven.