Coppola received his B.S. degree in 1978 from the University of New Hampshire and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. He joined the Michigan faculty in 1986, and was promoted to full professor of chemistry in 2001. His recent publications range from educational philosophy, practice and assessment to mechanistic organic chemistry research.
A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Coppola has been honored numerous times for teaching, including his selection in 2009 as the CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year (for doctoral institutions). His additional awards include: 2006 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeast Section of the American Chemical Society, the 2004 CASE/Carnegie State of Michigan Professor of the Year, the 2004 Kendall-Hunt Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teachers, the 2003 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the National Science Teachers Association and 1999 Amoco Foundation Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
In addition, Coppola was among the first group of Carnegie Scholars affiliated with The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's CASTL program (Carnegie Academy on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning).