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Keynote Speakers

Professor Oluwatoyin Ajibola Asojo
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Hampton University, 200 Harvey Way
Hampton VA 23668 USA

Homepage: Oluwatoyin Asojo


Oluwatoyin Asojo’s research focuses on protein crystallography, structure based development of vaccines and therapeutics, with a particular interest on diseases of the underserved and neglected pathogens. She is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas, USA) and the Director of the Structural Biology and Protein Characterization Section of the National School of Tropical Medicine (NSTM). Prof Asojo obtained her PhD (Chemistry) from the University of Houston (1999). She is co-chair of the database committee of the US National Committee for Crystallography, a former Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow (2016), on the Fulbright Specialist Roster Chemistry Education (2015-21), a Society for Science and the Public Science Advocates (2016), and a Norton Rose Fulbright Faculty Excellence awardee in Teaching and Evaluation (2017).


Professor Mark W Peczuh
Department of Chemistry, University of Connecticut
55 North Eagleville Road, U3060
Storrs, CT 06269, USA


Mark Peczuh’s research focuses on the synthesis of ring-expanded carbohydrates and conformational analysis, the synthesis and structural analysis of macrocycles, investigations of protein-small molecule interactions (especially protein-carbohydrate interactions), and the discovery of new antibacterials. He is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut, USA). The philosophy of the Peczuh group is to support an inclusive research environment that encourages inquiry through rigorous experimentation, sound logic and unconventional thinking. Prof Peczuh obtained his PhD (Chemistry) from Yale University (1999). He is a former Fulbright Fellow at the Institut Químic de Sarrià in Barcelona, Spain (2013), a New Investigator awardee (Carbohydrate Division) of the American Chemical Society (2006), and a National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) awardee (2006).


Professor Harald Pasch
SASOL Chair in Advanced Analytical Polymer Science
Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science
University of Stellenbosch
7600 Stellenbosch, South Africa

Homepage: Harald Pasch

Harald Pasch’s research focuses on the development of advanced analytical methods for complex polymers. He has conducted research in Kuwait and Germany, notably at the German Institute for Polymers (DKI) where he developed novel methods for polymer fractionation, most prominently in the field of multidimensional liquid chromatography leading to the publication of textbooks on liquid chromatography of polymers and mass spectrometry (in 1997 and 2004, respectively). Professor Pasch obtained his PhD (Polymer Science) from the German Academy of Sciences (1982) and his habilitation (DSc) in 1987; since 2014 he is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Stellenbosch, as the SASOL Chair in Analytical Polymer Science. In addition to postgraduate supervision and publishing research articles, Professor Pasch continues to publish textbooks to inform intermediate and advanced polymer scientists, including Multidimensional HPLC of Polymers (2013) and Advanced Separation Techniques for Polyolefins (2014).

Professor Pasch is the recipient of the 2017 South African Chemical Institute Gold Medal


Professor Daniela I Bezuidenhout
School of Chemistry, University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg 2050, South Africa

Homepage: Daniela Bezuidenhout

Daniela Bezuidenhout’s research focuses on the synthesis of new carbenes and carbene metal complexes for application in catalysis and small molecule activation. This research extends to the design of metallodrugs (bioinorganic) and optoelectronic applications. In 2016 she joined the University of the Witwatersrand as an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry, after several years as an academic staff member at the University of Pretoria where she completed her PhD (Chemistry) in 2010. She is a former Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, San Diego USA (2011/12), a runner-up finalist for the Nedbank SAWEF Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research Award (2013), and an inaugural fellow of the Tuks Young Research Leaders Programme (TYRLP 2015)

Professor Bezuidenhout is the recipient of the 2017 South African Chemical Institute Raikes Medal



Professor Helen Drummond
Department of Chemistry
North-West University (Mafikeng Campus)
Private Bag X2046
Mmabatho 2735, South Africa


Helen Drummond’s research focuses on teaching methods designed to develop and improve students’ competence in intellectual skills and strategies to enhance success in learning and applying chemistry effectively. These skills include three-dimensional visualisation, mathematical and reasoning skills, and problem solving and organisational skills. She is currently a Full Professor of Chemistry at the North-West University and also a Deputy Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Prof Drummond obtained her PhD (Chemistry) from the North-West University (2003) and she also holds a MEd from the University of the Witwatersrand (1989).

Professor Drummond is the recipient of the 2016 South African Chemical Institute Chemical Education Medal


Professor Zenixole R. Tshentu
Department of Chemistry
Nelson Mandela University
Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa

Homepage: Zenixole Tshentu

Zenixole Tshentu’s research focuses on the beneficiation of earth and secondary materials, from selective metal extraction chemistry to the design of metal complexes for application in medicine and catalysis. Prof Tshentu, who is an Associate Professor of analytical/inorganic chemistry at NMU, summarizes his research philosophy as “the quest for selectivity and specificity in chemical and biological systems”. He completed his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at NMU (2005) before moving to Rhodes University as a lecturer, rising to senior lecturer, before moving back to NMU (2013) where he was appointed the Head of Department of Chemistry in 2016. In addition to being an NRF-rated researcher (C2), Prof Tshentu is an active participant in the promotion of chemistry research in RSA including serving in many conference-organizing committees and as the incumbent Executive Secretary of SACI.

Professor Tshentu is the recipient of the 2016 South African Chemical Institute Raikes Medal


Professor Ruby Hanson
Faculty of Science Education
University of Education, Winneba
PO Box 25, Winneba, Ghana


Ruby Hanson’s research focuses on finding students’ conceptual challenges and remediating them through innovative and interactive teaching and learning strategies. These include the development of e-courseware, diagnostic worksheets, and the use of micro science equipment for conceptual labs. She is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry Education, and the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Science Education, at the leading teacher education institute in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, the renowned University of Education in Winneba. Professor Hanson obtained an MPhil in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry from the University of Cape Coast (2003) where she carried out research in chemical toxicology studies before completing her PhD in Chemistry Education from the University of Education, Winneba (2014). She currently heads a Science Team that is spearheading a revolutionary national curriculum transformation for basic schools. In addition to other awards received at local and international conferences, Prof Hanson is proud to be a recipient of a district Best Teacher Award in the Kwaebibrem District in the Eastern Region of Ghana.


Dr Lynne A. Pilcher
Department of Chemistry, University of Pretoria
Hatfield, Pretoria. 0002
South Africa

Homepage: Lynne Pilcher

Lynne Pilcher’s research focuses on organic synthesis to solve biological problems, with an emphasis on developing TB diagnostics based on mycolic acids, application of nanotechnology to improve existing TB, HIV and Malaria drugs, and mechanistic studies on purine compounds to elucidate the role of adenine in kinase reaction mechanisms. Dr Pilcher completed an MSc in natural products structural elucidation at Rhodes University (1996) and a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge (2000). In addition to her interest in proposing mechanisms to explain organic reaction, Dr Pilcher also has a keen interest in igniting research curiosity in undergraduate students. For a part of this work, she was awarded the University of Pretoria Laureate award for Teaching Excellence (2014).

Dr Pilcher is the recipient of the 2017 South African Chemical Institute Chemical Education Medal


Prof SO Ojwach
School of Chemistry and Physics
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Scottsville, 3209
South Africa

Homepage: Stephen Ojwach

Stephen Ojwach’s research focuses on applied Organometallic Chemistry and homogeneous catalysis, with an emphasis on fundamental coordination chemistry of late transition metal complexes, and their application as catalysts in olefin transformation reactions. These include oligomerization, methoxycarbonylation, hydrogenation, and ring-opening polymerization of renewable monomers to produce biodegradable polymers. Prof Ojwach obtained his MSc from the University of the Western Cape (2005) and a PhD from the University of Johannesburg (2008) and is currently an Associate Professor and a Discipline Academic Leader (Inorganic Chemistry) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Prof Ojwach is a principal investigator at the DST-NRF Center of Excellence in Catalysis and an NRF Y-rated researcher.


Prof S Marx
DST/NRF Chair in Biofuels and other clean alternative fuels
School of Chemical and Minerals Engineering
North-West University
Potchefstroom, 2520
South Africa

Homepage: Sanette Marx

Sanette Marx’s research focuses on harvesting fuels and chemicals from the recycling of waste biomass material by application of novel reaction techniques that reduce the biorefining costs. This include thermochemical liquefaction conversion processes for lignocellulose and waste materials conversion to bio-oil (that can be upgraded to renewable diesel), biochar for catalytic co-gasification to reduce sulphur emissions and bio-based platform chemicals. Furthermore, microwave technology is used to liberate fermentable sugars from lignocellulose waste. As part of the biorefinery concept, methods are being developed to produce bio-based biodegradable polymers such as polyurethane and polycarbonate from waste lignin. Notable innovations from her research is a waterless biodiesel plant (PUKKI Diesel) with a capacity to produce 165 000 L/year from campus waste and a continuous liquefaction production plant (150 kg/hr) that produces bio-oil, bio-char and biogas. Prof Marx (Van Rensburg) obtained a PhD in Chemical Engineering from North-West University (2002) where she has worked from lecturer (1995) to her current position as Associate Professor and the holder of a SARChI Chair in Biofuels (since 2007). Prof Marx is a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) since 2002 and a chartered chemical engineer with IChemE (UK) and has served on the International Energy Board since 2015.


Dr J Rajput
Founder and CEO
Tomorrow Matters Now (TOMA Now)
Cape Town
South Africa


Dr Rajput obtained her PhD (Chemistry) from the University of Cape Town (2003) and has leveraged her research and innovation capabilities into developing practical, industry relevant solutions. She has a global (South Africa, Germany, Hong Kong) career spanning nearly two decades in large corporates in the automotive, chemicals and construction industries. Her rich background includes technical, management systems, strategy and sustainability.

Motivated by her interest in innovation (as a technical expert and technical problem solver) and strategic thinking, she founded Tomorrow Matters Now (TOMA-Now) in 2013 as a management consultancy that focuses on sustainability and advises and partners with corporates on unlocking tangible green business value. This includes developing responsible, impactful ways of doing business with significant environmental and social effects. TOMA-Now has developed and mapped value chains across a number of industry sectors, most recently in Zambia, Kenya, China and South Africa.


Dr Hein JHW Potgieter
Analytics Department, Group Technology, a division of Sasol South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Klasie Havenga Ave, Sasolburg, 1947
South Africa


Hein Potgieter is from Bloemfontein where he obtained both his Bachelor and Master degrees at the University of Free State. From 2004-2006 he worked at the South African Doping Control Laboratory specialising in high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Hein joined Sasol Group Technology in 2007 as an HPLC scientist in the Analytics group. Over the past 11 years in this group he also ventured into other fields of chromatography that include gas chromatography (GC), comprehensive two dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC), and supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC). In 2018 Hein completed his PhD on” Developments towards the comprehensive analysis of petrochemical streams” at the University of Pretoria under the supervision of Prof. Egmont Rohwer. The study investigated the development and coupling of chromatographic techniques to fully characterize compounds and compound classes of interest in petrochemical streams.