Harry R. Allcock was born in Loughborough, England. He received his B.Sc. and Ph.D degrees from the University of London, and was a postdoctoral scientist at Purdue University in the U.S.A and at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. His training during this time was in physical-organic, organosilicon, and polymer chemistry. Following five years as a research scientist at the American Cyanamid Laboratories in Stamford, Connecticut, he moved to the Pennsylvania State University where he is an Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Penn State's highest academic honor.
Harry Allcock's research is at the interface between inorganic and organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, biomedicine, and materials science. It is based on the principle that new materials with hitherto unseen combinations of properties are accessible by the incorporation of inorganic elements into the backbone structure of polymers. He was the discoverer of a major class of polymers known as polyphosphazenes which are based on a backbone of alternating phosphorus and nitrogen atoms with two organic, inorganic, or organometallic side groups linked to each phosphorus. His research group has been one of the main sources of new discoveries in this field. He also discovered a new class of molecular inclusion compounds (clathrates) that have been used to separate a wide variety of organic small molecules and high polymers, and which also serve as nano-scale templates for addition polymerizations. A characteristic of his research program is its emphasis on long-range fundamental science, and on the utilization of this science to initiate new advances in medicine, aerospace materials, energy storage, fuel cells, solar cells, and photonic materials.
Allcock and his coworkers have published more than 600 papers and reviews on the synthesis, characterization, and uses of phosphazenes, and he is the author of three monographs on inorganic-organic rings and polymers including "Chemistry and Applications of Polyphosphazenes", Wiley, 2003, 725 pages, which summarizes the accomplishments in his program together with the research by other groups working in this field. He has also written a 432-page text book, "Introduction to Materials Chemistry", which was published in September 2008 by John Wiley & Sons and is now in its second printing. It is a qualitative overview of the fundamentals of materials science from a chemistry perspective rather than the traditional physics/engineering viewpoint.
Professor Allcock has received numerous awards, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Polymer Chemistry, the ACS Herman Mark Award in Macromolecular Science, the ACS Award in Materials Chemistry, the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists, and most recently the ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science and the 2010 ACS Paul J. Flory Polymer Education Award. In 2006 Allcock was awarded an honorary D.Sc. degree from Loughborough University in the U.K. He has been a visiting scientist in New Zealand and Japan, and at Stanford University, Imperial College of Science and Technology, and the IBM Almaden Laboratories in San Jose, California. Allcock was a Guggenheim Fellow during 1986-87.