School of Chemistry & Physics

Prof Stephen Ojwach

Associate Professor

Prof Ojwach is an Associate Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Prof Ojwach holds a PhD degree in Applied Synthetic Organometallic Chemistry and Homogeneous catalysis from the University of Johannesburg.

His main research area focuses on the design of transition metal complexes and their fundamental and theoretical investigations as catalysts in oligomerization, polymerization, carbonylation and hydrogenation reactions.

Research profiles

Research overview

Catalysis is a multibillion dollar industry in modern technology, as over 80% of both industrial and domestic commodities are produced through catalytic processes. The Catalysis and Organometallic Research Unit (CORU), Discipline of Chemistry, Pietermaritzburg Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal is adopting a multi-disciplinary approach aim at understanding the basic coordination chemistry of metal complexes, synthetic organometallic chemistry and their applications as catalysts in organic transformation reactions. While the group mainly focuses on homogeneous catalysis, the research focus has shifted to the interface of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis and sustainable processes. Detailed kinetics, theoretical and mechanistic studies are also performed to compliment the experimental data and offer insights on the rational ligand and complex design. Our expertise in the design of coordination compounds have seen research collaborations to investigate the kinetics of ligand substitution reactions and anti-cancer activities of palladium and ruthenium complexes.

Current projects

The Ojwach research is currently involved in the design and development of nitrogen, oxygen, phosphine-donor metal complexes and their application as catalysts in ethylene oligomerization reactions, molecular and transfer hydrogenation of ketones, asymmetric hydrogenation, and methoxycarbonylation reactions. To maximize the benefits of both homogeneous (selectivity) and heterogeneous (recycling) catalysts, the group has also embarked on immobilization of homogeneous catalysts on inorganic and magnetic nanoparticles, as well as design of water soluble systems. In the Bioinorganic Chemistry collaborative project, we are currently designing ruthenium(II) and palladium(II)complexes, and investigating their kinetics of ligand substitution reactions, DNA interactions and biological applications as anti-cancer agents.



  • Dr Amos Fatokun, Liverpool John Moss University, United Kingdom
  • Prof Bernard Owaga, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Prof Crispin Kowenje, Maseno University, Kenya
  • Prof Daniella Bezuidenhout, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Prof Deogratius Jaganyi, Mount Kenya University, Kenya
  • Prof Mervin Meyer, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  • Prof Paul Hayes, University of Lethbridge, Canada