Raised in Methuen, Massachusetts, and Derry, New Hampshire, Coppola is the eldest of four children of Frank and Shirley Coppola. He graduated from Pinkerton Academy in 1974. In 1978, he received a B.S. from the University of New Hampshire, then was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1984, having carried out research under the supervision of Barry M. Trost. In 1982, he joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. He was hired at the University of Michigan in 1986 as a Visiting Assistant Professor, and then as a Lecturer (1987). In 1996-1997, his tenure case established a new policy within the UM College of Literature, Science and the Arts: that faculty positions within the College might be based on discipline-centered teaching and learning, that is, the interdisciplinary combination of the discipline and the learning sciences. The details of his case, and that of three other individuals with comparable career paths, is the basis of the book Balancing Acts by Mary Taylor Huber. Coppola was appointed as Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in 2001, and became a Full Professor of Chemistry in 2001-2002. He served as the Associate Chair of the chemistry department at the University of Michigan from 2002-2012. In 2013, he was appointed as the department's first Associate Chair for Educational Development & Practice, where he directs the department's programs for student professional development (CSIE|UM for the future faculty; CALC|UM for the future industry/private section professionals; Masters degree options; international programs).
Between 2007-2011, Coppola, along with Joseph Krajcik (Michigan State University, School of Education), co-founded the University of Michigan IDEA Institute (Instructional Development & Educational Assessment).
As of 2016 his research interests were listed as, "mechanism and synthetic applications of dipolar cycloaddition reactions and in chemistry curriculum design, implementation, assessment, and evaluation." From 2010-2015, he was an Associate Editor for The Journal for Research in Science Teaching, and co-edited two special issues on Discipline-Centered Post-Secondary Science Education Research. He has also served on the editorial boards for The Chemical Educator, International Journal of Science Education, "Journal of Chemical Education", and Journal of College Science Teaching.
Awards and honors
- Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching, University of Michigan, 1994.
- Undergraduate Computational Science Education Award, United States Department of Energy, 1996.
- Amoco Foundation Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 1999.
- Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2002.
- Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, 2001.
- NSTA Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award, 2003.
- Society for College Science Teachers (SCST)/Kendall-Hunt Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award, 2004/5.
- CASE/Carnegie State of Michigan Professor of the Year, 2004.
- James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry, 2006.
- CASE/Carnegie United States National Professor of the Year (doctoral), 2009.
- Pinkerton Academy Alumni Hall of Fame, 2011.
- Robert Foster Cherry Award (finalist), 2011.
- Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, Awardee for 2012-14.
- Michigan Association of State Universities Distinguished Professor of the Year, 2016.
Selected recent publications
(1) Coppola, B. P. “Do Real Work, Not Homework” In, Garcia-Martinez, J.; Serrano-Torregrosa, E., Eds. Chemistry Education: Best Practices, Opportunities and Trends. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH, 2015;pp. 203–257.
(2) Coppola, B. P. "An Inevitable Moment: US Brain Drain" Change 2015, 47 (4), 36-45.
(3) Coppola, B. P. “Making Your Case: Ten Questions for Departments and Individuals Building an Argument for Work in Discipline-Centered Education” International Journal on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 2011, 5. http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl.
(4) Coppola, B. P. “Structure and Reactivity at the University of Michigan” In J. Ryan, T. Clark, & A. Collier (eds.). Assessment in the Disciplines (vol 5): Assessment in Chemistry. Tallahassee, FL: Association for Institutional Research, 2010; pp. 175–199.
(5) Coppola, B. P. “Advancing STEM teaching and learning with research teams” In Baldwin, R., Ed. “Improving the Climate for Undergraduate Teaching and Learning in STEM Fields” New Directions in Teaching and Learning (No. 117) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 2009; pp. 33–44.
- Anonymous. "Brian P. Coppola, PhD". University of Maryland. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Anonymous. "Brian P. Coppola". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Alnajjar, Joanne (1998-04-09). "Prof. Brian Coppola takes on the world". The Michigan Daily. Archived from the original on 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Huber, Mary Taylor (July–August 2001). "Balancing Acts: Designing Careers Around the Scholarship of Teaching". The Carnegie Foundation. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Coppola, Brian (2007-04-23). "Keynote Address: 2007 Howard University Graduate School Research Symposium". Howard University. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
- "IDEA Institute". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
- "MI Distinguished Professor of the Year". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- "CSIEUM". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- "CALCUM". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2016-04-06.