Joost Reek finished his masters at the University of Nijmegen in 1991 and received his PhD in 1996 at the same university. His research was done in the group of Prof. R.J.M. Nolte, were he acquired expertise in the field of supramolecular chemistry and synthesis. He attended the group of Prof. M.J. Crossley in Sydney as a postdoctoral fellow in 1996, where he got experienced in porphyrin chemistry and dendrimers. In January 1998 he became lecturer (senior lecturer in 2003) in the group of Prof. P.W.M.N. van Leeuwen at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) were he got experienced with transition metal catalysis. Collaborative research activities with Van Leeuwen focused on transition metal catalysis, catalyst immobilization and dendritic transition metal catalysis. In this period he started his own successful new line of research on the border of transition metal catalysis and supramolecular chemistry, which has resulted in several patents, many papers in high impact journals and an appointment as full professor (chair supramolecular catalysis) at the UvA in 2006. In addition he founded the company Cat-fix in 2006 to commercialize some of the inventions in the area of supramolecular catalysis. He launched InCatT (innovative catalyst technologies) as a second spin-off company in 2009. Since November 2013 he was scientific director of the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) of the UvA 2013-2017, and currently is scientific director of NIOK.
In 2005 he was elected a young member of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). As a young member of the KNAW he visited high schools, organized meetings on interdisciplinary research topics and he is still taking part in the committee judging the KNAW recognized research schools in the area of natural sciences. In 2013 he was elected as a new member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW), and in 2015 he was elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
He received numerous grants (total value over M€ 13) including a grant for talented young chemists, Vici grant (2002) and TOP grants of the national research funding agency NWO, a large grant from economic affairs and in 2013 the ERC advanced grant. On top of that Reek collaborates with numerous industries. He was the coordinator of a successful European research training network, and is involved in other EU networks.
Prof. Reek currently heads a research group of around 40 people, with 22 PhD students and 9 post-docs, working on various topics related to supramolecular chemistry and transition metal catalysis. He is member of the management team of the NRSCC (top research school catalysis), member of the International advisory board of the European journal of inorganic chemistry, and chair of the study group Coordination chemistry and homogeneous catalysis of NWO, board member of the KNCV (Royal Netherlands Chemical Society) and board member of the national BioSolarCell research program.
With over 300 scientific papers published, his H-index is currently 62. He has (co)edited a book on dynamic combinatorial chemistry, a new field of science that is strongly inspired by natural selection events. Reek gave may invited lectures like the Troisième cycle (Switserland, 2007), the DSM-lecture at the ICOMC (Rennes, 2008) and the Erdtman Lecture in 2009. In 2011 he was invited to a DoE workshop on CO2 reduction, to advise the Department of Energy in US. In 2014 he explained on television (De kennis van nu) one of his scientific dreams to the public.