Josep Cornella (Pep) was born in La Bisbal del Penedès, a small town in south Catalunya. He graduated in chemistry in 2008 from the University of Barcelona and carried MSc studies in the Department of Organic Chemistry studying the chemistry of allylboron reagents.
After completing his masters thesis, he moved to the United Kingdom to pursue doctoral studies in the group of Prof. Igor Larrosa (QMUL). In early 2012, he earned his PhD working on the use of aromatic carboxylic acids as aryl donors in metal-catalyzed decarboxylative reactions. He then moved back to Catalunya, where he joined the group of Prof. Ruben Martin (ICIQ) as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow. There, he developed novel transformations involving Ni-catalyzed C–O bond activation and CO2 insertion into organic molecules.
In 2015, Pep obtained a Beatriu de Pinós Fellowship to carry out further postdoctoral studies in the group of Prof. Phil S. Baran at The Scripps Research Institute, California, USA. During this time at Scripps, he worked on the discovery and implementation of new transformations based on the concept of “redox-active esters” as practical and readily available partners for Ni- and Fe-catalyzed C–C bond forming reactions.
In spring 2017, he was appointed as a Max Planck Group Leader in the Department of Organometallic Chemistry at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.
In summer of the same year, he obtained a Max Planck Research Group Leader (MPRGL) position in the same Institute, to create and lead the Sustainable Catalysis Laboratory.