Department of Chemistry

Prof MJ Mphahlele

College of Science, Engineering and Technology
School of Science
Department: Chemistry
Tel: 011 670 9301


  • BSc (Botany and Chemistry), University of Fort Hare (1988)
  • BSc Honours in Chemistry (with distinction), University of Fort Hare (1989)
  • MSc (Organic Chemistry), University of Pretoria (1991)
  • PhD (Organic Chemistry), Rhodes University (1993)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pretoria (1994)

NRF Rating


Currently teaching

Postgraduate training

  • MJ Mphahlele, 2,3-Epoxypropylphosphonate as a Precursor for 2,3-Disubstituted Alkylphosphonic Esters. M.Sc. Dissertation (1991), University of Pretoria; Supervisor: Prof TA Modro (DSc).
  • MJ Mphahlele, Synthetic and Spectroscopic Studies of 1,4-Benzodiazepine Analogues. PhD Thesis (1994), Rhodes University; Supervisor: Prof. PT Kaye (PhD).

Fields of academic interests

Research interest

The main thrust of Prof Mphahlele's current and future research is directed towards physical organic chemistry (synthetic, structural, mechanistic) and bioorganic chemistry research. His work is characterised by a deep appreciation of mechanism and reactivity and is driven by the gaps and limitations in our arsenal of methods to construct novel molecules. The focus is on the synthesis and chemistry of biologically relevant (i) nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds and (ii) phosphorus- and/ or sulfur-containing organic compounds. Spectroscopic methods (1D- and 2-D NMR, mass and FT-IR), quantum chemical calculations (semi-empirical, ab initio and DFT) and X-ray crystallography are also applied to structural problems involving novel heterocyclic and heteroatom-containing compounds.

Professional positions, fellowships & awards

Professional positions

  • Temporary junior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Pretoria.  (01/03/1990 - 31/03/1991)
  • Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Pretoria (01/ 01/ 1995 - 31/ 01/1996)
  • Senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Pretoria (01/02/1996)
  • Senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of South Africa (01/03/1997 – 30/ 04/1998)
  • Professor and Head of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Medical University of Southern Africa (01/05/1988 – 31/05/2003)
  • Part-time organic chemistry 2 and 3 lecturer at Technikon Northwest (01/01 – 31/12/2003)
  • Professor of organic chemistry at the Unisa (01/06/2003 -)
  • Chairperson of the Department of Chemistry at Unisa (01/042005 - 31/12/ 2011)
  • Unisa Research Professor (01/02/2011 - )


Short - learning courses

  • Certificate in Financial Management Skills for Managers and Directors offered by Corporate Business Management Training (2004)
  • Certificate Course in Management Principles for First-Line Managers (CMPF01-R and CMPF02-S), Unisa (2004)
  • Certificate Course in Basics of Total Quality Management (CSTQ01-H and CSTQ02-J), Unisa (2007)

List of peer - reviewed

Primary Literature (PDF 65 kb)
These are research papers, which may be in the form of full papers (completed research topic with full descriptions and arguments) or communications/ short papers (an isolated topic with a full, but limited description)

Secondary Literature (PDF 65 kb)
These are review papers, which provide an up-to-date account of what is in the literature based on published work of the author and others. Due to their broad nature, scientific reviews are written by established author(s) in a specific area and are longer than research papers.

Tertiary Literature (PDF 40 kb)
These include reflexive research papers and peer-reviewed conference proceedings.

Click here for more on his profile (PDF 112 kb)