Professor Realff completed his Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Imperial College London in 1986, and was a Kennedy scholar 1986-87 at MIT, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1992. He has been a faculty member at The Georgia Institute of Technology since 1993, and is currently the David Wang Senior Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. From 2005-2007 he was a program officer at the National Science Foundation, where he helped develop programs in resilient and sustainable infrastructure and environmentally benign processing. He has led efforts to develop product sustainable assessment standards at NSFI, and currently chairs or co-chairs the joint committees for photovoltaic modules and computer servers.
He was the co-chair of the 2013 American Chemistry Society Green Chemistry Conference. He is the Associate Director of the Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute with responsibility for advanced materials and separations applications for energy systems and an Associate Director of the Georgia Tech Renewable Bioproducts Institute to help develop programs in chemicals and fuels with a focus on lignin isolation and conversion.