School of Chemistry & Physics

Prof Bernard Owaga

Full Professor

Prof Owaga’s research interests are in the synthesis and structural elucidation of organic, inorganic and metal organic compounds with interesting physical properties.

His focus is in Polymorphism, Isomorphism and Co-crystallization studies of these compounds. He investigates properties like magnetic susceptibility, luminescence, fluorescence in addition to studies of the compounds biological and catalytic activities. 

Some of the characterization techniques he employs are: Single crystal XRD, PXRD, DSC, Electron microscopy and solid and solution NMR.

Research interests

  • Catalysis
  • Material Sciences
  • Structural Chemistry at UKZN

Research profiles

Research overview

Dr Owaga’s Research is on synthetic coordination chemistry of transition metal complexes, biological studies, and catalysis involving the coordination complexes. In this research, they take advantage of their vast knowledge in single crystal analysis of the coordination complexes in unequivocally establishing their structures. This is in addition to all the other spectroscopic and analytical characterization techniques.

Current projects

One of the current biological studies project is based on the use of biologically active ligands (mainly, derivatives of pyridines, quinolines, pyrimidines and formamidines) incorporating Ag(I), Zn(II), Cu(I) and Cu(II), and Ru(II) centers in their complexes. The catalysis is mainly homogeneous focussing on the Ring Opening Polymerization reactions of cyclic esters using coordination complexes of Zn, Al, Mg and Cu.

Associations/ Affiliations

  • South African Crystallographic Union (SACrS – National committee member).
  • International Union of Crystallography (IUCr – National committee member).
  • South African Chemical Society (SACI – KZN region Chairperson).
  • Catalysis South Africa (CATSA – ordinary member).
  • American Chemical Society (ACS – ordinary member).


  • Dr Richard Mampa – University of Limpopo.
  • Dr Raymond Hewer – UKZN School of Life Sciences.
  • Dr Peter Owira – UKZN School of Pharmacy – Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • Prof Rueben Simoyi – Chemistry at Portland State University.