Robert Batey was born in England, graduating from Oxford University with a BA degree, and the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine with a PhD. He is currently a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto. In July 2013 he was appointed as chair of the Department of Chemistry.
Batey's research interests lie in the general area of organic synthesis, encompassing the development of new synthetic methods and organic reactions. Areas of particular focus include the development of cycloaddition, sigmatropic and electrocyclic reactions, catalysis, organoboron and heterocyclic chemistry. These methods have been applied toward the total synthesis of alkaloid and other heterocyclic natural products, including martinelline, agelastatin A, elaiomycin, antimycin A1b, and kitastatin. The identification of heterocyclic and other small molecules as anticancer or antibiotic agents and their use as probes of cellular processes is a further interest of his group.