George K. Mwangi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Chemistry

Dr. George Mwangi is a chemist with interests in Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for chemical sensing and separations.

Dr. Mwangi earned a First Class Honors Degree in Chemistry in 1985, followed by a master's degree from the University of Nairobi and a Doctorate from the University of New Hampshire, specializing in Analytical Chemistry. He embarked on his teaching career in 1992 as a lecturer at Egerton University in Kenya, where he dedicated over six years to educating students. During his tenure as a Post-Doctoral fellow at Oklahoma State University, he honed his expertise in polymer synthesis and its applications as molecularly imprinted indicator systems.

In 2005, Dr. Mwangi joined the University of Sioux Falls as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and achieved promotion to the rank of Associate Professor in 2012. Throughout his academic journey, he actively contributed to various committees and served as a dedicated academic advisor, guiding students from freshmen to seniors. Furthermore, he held the prestigious position of BRIN Project Director for the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network of South Dakota (BRIN) and efficiently coordinated the University's BRIN research initiatives at USF from 2016 to 2023.

Dr. Mwangi's teaching portfolio encompasses freshman chemistry courses and advanced classes in quantitative and instrumental analysis. His research resides at the intersection of polymer science and analytical chemistry, with a strong focus on pioneering durable molecularly imprinted chemical sensors. His projects involve designing, synthesizing, and evaluating imprinted polymers with the capability to bind to catecholamine molecules, crafting polymers with metal ion-binding properties, and developing bulk polymers suitable for complexation and compound separation in chromatographic columns. To investigate polymer models, Dr. Mwangi employs a range of analytical techniques, including UV-Vis, fluorescence, atomic absorption, and IR spectroscopy. Additionally, he employs both light and electron microscopy to visualize polymer microspheres, shedding light on their surface structures.

Education

  • B.S, Chemistry, University of Pune, 1985
  • M.S., Analytical Chemistry, University of Nairobi, 1990
  • Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry, University of New Hampshire, 2005

Courses Taught

  • CHE491 - Research in Chemistry
  • CHE332 - Quantitative Chemical Analysis
  • CHE111 - General Chemistry I
  • CHE112 - General Chemistry II
  • CHE121 - Introduction to Chemistry
  • CHE122 - Intro to Organic & Biochemistry

Professional Memberships

American Chemical Society

Member of the American Chemical Society and also an alternate councilor of the midwest ACS section.

South Dakota Academy of Science

Second vice president of the South Dakota Academy of Science

Research

 

Dr. George Mwangi's personal research is in the area of chemical sensor based on dopamine molecular imprinted polymers. The aim of this research is to develop a chemical sensor that is selective and specific for molecules of biochemical significance like the catecholamines. Dopamine for instance is an important neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger between the nerve cells in the mammalian brain. It also plays an important role in the function of the renal, hormonal and cardiovascular systems. Therefore, the development of dopamine quantification in blood and other biological systems is very important.

The specific binding sites for dopamine will be created in polymers during the imprinting process. Molecular Imprinted polymer (MIP) microspheres will be synthesized via precipitation polymerization. The dopamine print molecule, the principal monomer, N-Isopropyl acrylamide or vinyl caprolactum and the functional monomer methacrylic acid will be dispersed in the solvent by sonication. The crosslinker, stabilizer and initiator will then be added to this mixture. The functional monomer will form a complex with the dopamine print molecule, and, following polymerization, their functional groups will be held in position by the crosslinked polymeric structure. Removal of the print molecule will reveal sites that have a molecular memory, which will allow the polymer to selectively rebind the dopamine analyte.

Scholarships and Creative Work

Lectures
  • Mt. Marty College,Yankton, S.D. 2.24.2012, Seminar, Invited Speaker on Molecularly Imprinted Polymers.
Presentations
  • “Carbobisimidazole and Ethylenediamine Derivatized Polyhydroxyethylmethacylate Polymer Microspheres Suspended in a Hydrogel for pH and Metal Ion Sensing”. George Mwangi and W. Rudolf Seitz. 9th International Meeting on Chemical Sensors in Boston, Mass. July 10, 2002.
  • “Chemical Sensors based on Swellable and Molecularly Imprinted polymers”. Kelli Westra, Chelsea Heppner, Tyler Gillen, Brett Elgersma and George Mwangi. 42nd Midwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Kansas City, Mo., November 7-10, 2007.
  • “Molecularly Imprinted Polymers based on Amitriptyline” Alan Sazama, Haley Gorby, George Mwangi. 44th Midwest Regional Meeting, Iowa City, Iowa, October 21 - 24, 2009.
  • “Binding Studies of Dopamine Imprinted Polymers” Alex Goffeney, Drew Goede & George Mwangi. 46th Midwest Regional Meeting, St. Louis, Mo., October 19 - 22, 2011.
  • “Synthesis, extraction and analysis of molecularly imprinted quercetin polymers, Adam Heck, Brian Schenavar & George Mwangi. 46th Midwest Regional Meeting, St. Louis, Mo., October 19 - 22, 2011.
  • “ Ethylenediamine Derivatized Polymer Microspheres Suspended in a Hydrogel for pH and Metal Ion Sensing”. George Mwangi and W. Rudolf Seitz. 30th American Chemical Society Northeast Regional Meeting in Durham, N.H. June 25, 2001.
Publications
  • Barry K. Lavine, David J. Westover, Necati Kaval, Nikhil Mirjankar,Leah Oxenford, George K. Mwangi, Swellable molecularly imprinted polyN-(N-propyl)acrylamide particles for detection of emerging organic contaminants using surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, Talanta 72 (2007) 1042–1048.
  • Barry K. Lavine, George K. Mwangi, Nikhil Mirjankar, Mariya Kim, Characterization of Swellable Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Particles by Surface Plasmon resonance Spectroscopy, Applied Spectroscopy 66, 4 (2012) 440-446.
Abstracts
  • Daniel Kohler and George Mwangi. ANALYSIS OF ESSENTIAL AND HEAVY METALS IN HONEY BY ATOMIC ABSORPTION SPECTROSCOPY In Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science, University of South Dakota 2012, 91, 216.