Sorrell has degrees from the University of Missouri-Rolla (Ceramic Engineering 1977, Chemistry 1980), Pennsylvania State University (Ceramic Science 1980), and the University of New South Wales (Ceramic Engineering 1987). He has supervised ~20 postdoctoral fellows and ~100 postgraduates to completion.
His research the emphasis for more than 35 years has been the processing of ceramics, often informed by phase equilibria considerations. This work has been funded principally by the Australian Research Council and a range of Australian and international industries. His research activities, documented in >500 publications and 4 patents have been commensurately broad, including most areas of ceramics except fracture mechanics. This work has generated a Google Scholar h-index of 43 and over 10,000 citations.