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.

Mwangi graduated with a First Class Honors Degree in Chemistry (1985), a master's degree and a Doctorate in the field of Analytical Chemistry. His teaching career began in 1992 when he was appointed lecturer at Egerton University in Kenya where he taught for more than six years. As a Post-Doctoral fellow at Oklahoma State University, he trained under Dr. Barry Lavine and learned vital skills in polymer synthesis and their applications as indicator systems. In 2005 Mwangi came to the University of Sioux Falls as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. During his time at USF, he has served on various committees and continues to be an academic advisor to many students, from freshmen to seniors. He is the USF Project Director for the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network of South Dakota (BRIN), and he coordinates the University's BRIN research activities. He teaches freshman chemistry as well as advanced courses in quantitative chemical and instrumental analysis.

Mwangi's research is at the interphase between polymer science and analytical chemistry. Areas of interest include the synthesis of durable molecularly imprinted polymers that are then applied to the field of chemical sensing of  important molecules in the physiological systems. Projects include the design, synthesis and evaluation of imprinted polymers that are capable of binding to catecholamine molecules, the preparation of polymers that bind to metal ions, the bulk polymers that can be used for complexation and separation of compounds in chromatographic columns. The analytical methods used in this research are the UV-Vis, fluorescence, atomic absorption and IR spectroscopy. Polymer microspheres are visualized with both light and electron microscopes to understand the nature of their surface structure.


  • 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



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

  • Mt. Marty College,Yankton, S.D. 2.24.2012, Seminar, Invited Speaker on Molecularly Imprinted Polymers.
  • “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.
  • 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.
  • 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.