John received his BS in Chemistry from UMASS Boston, and his PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University. After working at the Polaroid Corporation for nearly a decade, he then served as tenured full professor at UMASS Boston and Lowell (Chemistry and Plastics Engineering). In 2007 he founded the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, with Jim Babcock (a research organization developing green chemistry technologies), and Beyond Benign with Amy Cannon (a non-profit dedicated to sustainability and green chemistry education).
His research and publications in synthetic organic chemistry, noncovalent derivatization, polymer photochemistry and low temperature metal oxide semiconductors has provided the foundation for his theories of what he calls “entropic control in materials design”. His inventions and patents in molecular design, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, adhesives, metals recycling, asphalt pavement and solar energy are the basis for several startup companies and provide the backdrop to his theories on creativity and innovation.
John is one of the founders of the field of Green Chemistry, co-authoring the defining text “Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice” with Paul Anastas. He has published extensively on the application of the 12 principles of green chemistry and the need to incorporate them into product design and the chemistry curriculum. Because of his unique view of the chemical enterprises, formed from over 30 years of experience in industry, academia and entrepreneurship he has been asked to serve on several regional, national and international government initiatives in chemicals policy.
John has received awards as an academic, an industrial chemist, an inventor and a sustainability thought leader. He received the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring (one of the highest awards for US science education), the 2014 Perkin Medal (one of the highest honors in American Industrial Chemistry) and was named a 2016 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. He received the American Institute of Chemistry’s Northeast Division’s Distinguished Chemist of the Year for 2002 and the Council of Science Society President’s 2008 Leadership award. Warner was named by ICIS as one of the most influential people impacting the global chemical industries. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and named one of “25 Visionaries Changing the World” by Utne Reader. In 2017 the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and The Technical University of Berlin announced the naming of “The John Warner Center for Green Chemistry Start-Ups” in his honor.