University of Cape Town



The Group



Offers/Services Gallery

Contact Us

Meet the Group


Emeritus Professor
Mino R Caira

Director of the Centre and Senior Research Scholar

Emeritus Professor
Luigi R Nassimbeni

Senior Research Scholar

Professor Susan A Bourne

Professor of Chemistry and Head of Department

Dr. Clive L Oliver


Dr. Gaelle Ramon

Research Development Coordinator at the Research Office.

Dr. Dyanne Cruickshank Research Career Award Fellow

Dr. Hong Su

Scientific Officer

Mrs. Karin Badenhorst

Administration Officer


Name Degree Supervisors Thesis Title  
Mr. Vaughan Maurel PhD Caira/Bourne

Inclusion of Selected Agrochemicals in Cyclodextrins: A Physicochemical Study


Ms. Lee Trollope PhD Caira/Bourne The Supramolecular Modification of Antioxidants and Related Molecules
Ms. Gadija Akleker PhD Oliver/Caira Physicochemical studies of porous materials
Ms. Savannah Zacharias PhD Bourne/Ramon Chiral metal-organic frameworks
Mr. Richard Payne PhD Oliver Crystal engineering of large supramolecular assemblies
Ms. Merrill Wicht PhD Nassimbeni Werner Clathrates: structure and selectivity
Mr. Terence Noonan PhD Caira/Bourne

Supramolecular derivatisation of established drugs and new drug candidates

Ms. Razan Ahmed PhD Chibale/Caira

Integration of Medicinal Chemistry, Computer-Aided Drug Design and Supramolecular Derivatisation in Anti-tuberculosis Drug Discovery.

Ms. Francoise Amombo Noa PhD Nassimbeni/Bourne Halogen-Halogen interactions in Host-Guest systems

Ms. Laurelle Joseph MSc Caira/Chibale Supramolecular derivatisation of new drug candidates

Ms. Nicola Dare MSc Egan/Bourne Using metal-organic frameworks to investigate the interaction of ferrihaem with antimalarials

Ms. Tayyibah Tahier MSc Oliver Metal-organic frameworks based on mixed ligand systems

Mr. Chad Wilkinson MSc Chibale/Caira Synthesis, structure-activity relationships and supramolecular derivatization of a series of pyrido[1,2-a]benzimidazoles as antimalarials

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Eustina Batisai Nassimbeni

Having obtained her PhD in Chemistry from Stellenbosch University in 2013, Eustina worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Crystal Engineering Unit at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa, where she was hosted by Dr Nikoletta Báthori. Her passion and interest in the field of Crystal Engineering stems from the formative years of her postgraduate career in Professor Barbour’s Supramolecular Materials Research group at Stellenbosch University. Under Prof Barbour, she completed two main research projects. In her MSc work entitled 'Preparation and coordination chemistry of bis-pyridyl diamide ligands,’ she synthesized and characterized a series of novel coordination complexes containing pyridyl diamide ligands. Her current research focuses on investigating the synergistic effects in host-guest selectivity.

Dr. Leigh Loots Caira/Chibale

Leigh received her PhD in 2012 from the University of Stellenbosch under the supervision of Prof. Leonard J. Barbour. Her thesis was entitled “The Structural Analysis of Imidazole-Functionalised Metallocycles”. She subsequently explored “Ionic Supramolecular Materials as Hosts” as a Claude Leon Postdoctoral Fellow under the guidance of Drs. Tanya Le Roex and Delia A. Haynes also at the University of Stellenbosch. Currently, she is contributing to the research efforts of the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D), directed by Prof. Kelly Chibale. Her work is focussed on the supramolecular beneficiation of new drug candidates synthesised by the H3-D Centre using solid-state techniques under the supervision of Prof. Mino Caira.

Past Students

Dr. Gift Mehlana Gift completed his PhD entitled "Crystal engineering of some pyridyl benzoic acid", under the supervision of Prof. Susan Bourne and Dr. Gaelle Ramon in December 2014. His work involved preparation of novel metal-organic frameworks for applications in chromic sensing and capturing of small molecules. Experimentation involved the synthesis of new materials by solvent evaporation and solvothermal methods. Structural and physical characterisations were performed using techniques that include single crystal and powder X-ray diffraction, TGA/DSC of guest desorption and sorption. He plans to start his post doctoral studies in the second half of 2015.
Dr. Marivel Samipillai

Dr. Samipillai was a Claude Leon Postdoctoral Research Fellow under the supervision of Prof. Luigi Nassimbeni for two years from 2012-2014. His research was mainly focused on the topics of inclusion compounds and their applications for separation of constitutional isomers and stereoisomers. He also worked on physicochemical properties of co-crystals collaborating with Dr. Bathori, in which he studied the influence of supramolecular structure of co-crystals on their physical properties. Dr. Samipillai has now moved to Durban, where he is working as an X-ray postdoc and Crystallographer in the Catalysis and Peptide research Unit, of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr. Buntubonke Mzondo

Buntu completed his MSc entitled "A Physicochemical study of the inclusion of the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid and selected derivatives in native and methylated cyclodextrins", under the supervision of Professors Caira and Bounre, in December 2013. He is currently serving as an intern at the National Metrology Institute of South Africa, located in Pretoria. The focus of his project is on Biodiesel and bioethanol. Since the prices of fossil fuels are increasing and their utilization negatively impacts the environment, biofuels are the alternatives. Certain sets of test values must be attained before either biodiesel or bioethanol is certified for use and he is involved (as a metrologist, or learner metrologist) in the development of reliable analytical methodology to identify and quantify the components of the final bioethanol or biodiesel final product.

Dr. Raghavaiah Pallepogu Dr. Pallepogu spent 6 months with the group as a Postdoctoral Fellow, contributing towards the research efforts of the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D), directed by Prof. Kelly Chibale. His work focused on the supramolecular beneficiation of targeted drug molecules synthesised by the H3-D Centre, using solid-state techniques under the supervision of Prof. Mino Caira. He has however moved back to India in order to accept an excellent opportunity of a permanent academic position at Dr. Harisingh Gour Central University, Sagar, and we wish him every success for the future.
Dr. Dyanne Cruickshank Dr. Cruickshank received her PhD degree in December 2011 from the University of Cape Town under the supervision of Professors Mino Caira and Susan Bourne.  Her thesis was entitled ‘Physicochemical studies of the inclusion of selected agrochemicals in cyclodextrins’. She was awarded a Claude Leon Postdoctoral Fellowship and worked with Professor Caira on the beneficiation of bioactive molecules using supramolecular methods. This was achieved by forming cyclodextrin inclusion complexes and co-crystals with various bioactive molecules. She is currently a Leverhulme visiting Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bath in the U.K.
Dr. Ahmad Husain Dr. Husain completed a 2 year Postdoctoral Fellowship with the group in July 2013. He worked under both Prof. Caira and Dr. Oliver on the synthesis and characterisation of metal-organic frameworks based of transition metals, Lanthanides and of large supramolecular assemblies based on sulfonatocalixarene using amino acids, carboxylic acids and various metal ions. He is currently a Postdoctoral Associate with Professor Pance Naumov's  research group at the Centre for Science and Engineering, New York University Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. 
Dr. Kate Davies Kate completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Susan Bourne and Dr Clive Oliver in June 2012. Her thesis, "Characterisation and Topological Analysis of Novel Metal-Organic Frameworks", dealt with the preparation of new metal-organic frameworks from common starting materials. These frameworks were then analysed for useful properties including gas storage, and their topology was examined. Several new topological nets were discovered. After taking some time off to travel the world she is currently the Technical Content Editor at Siyavula Education, working on the chemistry section of the Grade 12 Physical Sciences textbook .
Mr. Emile Engel Emile received his Masters degree entitled " Supramolecular Modification of Selected Antiretroviral Drugs" in December 2011. His project was on Supramolecular Derivatives of Selected Antiretroviral Drugs, working with Nevirapine, Efavirenz, Lamivudine and Zidovudine to produce novel salts, cyclodextrin inclusion complexes and co-crystals. Some significant increases in drug aqueous solubility were achieved. He is presently a PhD candidate in Chemistry at the University of Stellenbosch.
Dr. Halima Samsodien

Halima graduated in June 2011 under the supervision of Prof. Caira and Prof. Bourne. Her thesis was entitled "Supramolecular derivatives of selected bioactive compounds: a physicochemical study". The study gives an account of the systematic conversion of selected drugs into various solid forms, namely polymorphs, solvates, co-crystals and cyclodextrin inclusion complexes to establish whether these forms might present any pharmaceutical or technological advantages over the untreated drugs. The study involved the isolation and complete physicochemical characterization of the modified forms, including quantitative assessment of their in vitro aqueous solubility in relation to the untreated drugs. Two anti-tumoral drugs and the antiretroviral Nevirapine were selected for investigation.  
She is working at the University of the Western Cape, School of Pharmacy, lecturing pharmacy students and continuing with research in the area of supramolecular chemistry, pre-formulation and formulation of pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Jinjing Li Jinjing's thesis entitled "Supramolecular Modification of Selected Antitubercular Drugs" was awarded in 2010, supervised by Prof Mino Caira and Prof Susan Bourne. The study focused on preparing new solid phases of the antitubercular drug isoxyl [specifically polymorphs, solvates, cyclodextrin (CD) inclusion complexes and cocrystals] and isolating and characterising a range of solvated forms of the rifamycin antibiotics rifampicin and rifaximin.
Jinjing is currently employed in a top international pharmaceutical company, Suzhou Novartis Pharma Technology in China, as a senior scientist. Her projects are focusing on the development of crystallization processes to target expected salt forms, polymorphic forms and other particle engineering needs.

Dr. Nikoletta Bathori Niki received her Masters degree in bioprocess engineering in 2001 from Budapest University of Technology and Economics,under the supervision of Dr Katalin Réczey. She received PhD in August 2006, also from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, in collaboration with Chemical Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her supervisors were Prof Mátyas Czugler, Dr Petra Bombicz, Dr László Bihátsi and her thesis title was "Synthesis and Crystal Structure Determination of Triazine Based C3 - Symmetric Host Molecules". In September 2006 she joined the Centre for Supramolecular Chemistry Research as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision Prof. Bourne and in 2009 she continued as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Prof. Nassimbeni.
In August 2009 she was appointed as a part time lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and in January 2010 she was appointed as a full time researcher/lecturer for them.
Niki is a Hungarian who knows how long a cricket pitch is, drinks rooibos tea, creates new words like "veteranian" (n sb who eats veterans), takes pictures of you that you love and is always happy to keep you company when you are heading to a conference.

Dr. Vincent Smith

Vincent graduated in 2009 under the supervision of Professors Caira and Bourne. His PhD thesis entitled "Complexation between cyclodextrins and phenylurea herbicides in solution and in the solid state", dealt with the preparation of cyclodextrin inclusion complexes of four phenylurea herbicides (metobromuron, monolinuron, monuron and fenuron) using the kneading and co-precipitation methods in the solid state while also determining complex formation of the same phenylureas in solution with selected cyclodextrins. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University in the Supramolecular Materials Chemistry research group of Professor Len Barbour, working on porous materials: the synthesis, applications and interactions with a view to gaining an understanding of the fundamentals which govern the behaviour and usefulness.

Ms. Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye Tozama graduated MSc in 2009 under the supervision of Professors Roger Hunter and Mino Caira. Her thesis title, "Studies on the synthesis, cyclodextrin inclusion and biological activity of ajoene analogues as potentially novel anti-cancer agents", was divided into three parts:

·           The synthesis of suitably modified ajoene derivatives.

·           inclusion of the synthesized ajoene derivatives into cyclodextrin

·           biological evaluation of the ajoene derivatives as anti-cancer agents

She is presently doing her doctorate at WITS University with the title of her thesis being, "Synthesis of novel oxidized aromatic compounds as potential anti-TB agents". She is on a PhD studentship in Council for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR).

Dr. Nashia Stellenboom

Nashia obtained her PhD degree in 2008 under the supervision of Professor Roger Hunter and Professor Mino Caira. Her thesis was entitled "Synthesis and Inclusion Studies of Stable Allicin Mimics as Novel Antimicrobial Agents". Her research was inspired by the potent but unstable antimicrobial agent, allicin, a known constituent of garlic and involved developing a new method for making new and stable antimicrobial agents. The compounds were included in various cyclodextrins to further enhance their stability and were investigated by various thermal techniques. She was awarded a Claude Leon Fellowship to carry out post doctoral research at UCT from January 2008 to December 2009. She worked with Professor Iqbal Parker at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Cape Town for the year 2010. Her research involved synthesizing and testing novel anti-cancer agents. She is currently working at The Center Research Laboratory at Agri Ibrahim Cecen University in Turkey.

Dr. Andreas Lemmerer

Andreas joined the CSCR for 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2007. His project with Prof. Bourne was entitled "Crystal Engineering of Co-Crystals and Molecular Salts". The purpose of this 1-year research project was to identify intermolecular interactions, specifically neutral and charge-assisted hydrogen bonds that can reliably be used to synthesize or co-crystallize two or more molecules into one supramolecular assembly. His principal co-investigators where Dr. Manual A. Fernandes, Dr. Nikoletta B. Báthori, Prof. Mino R. Caira, as well as a number of UCT honours students. He concluded his second postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Joel Bernstein at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and is currently a lecturer at the School of Chemistry at WITS University.

Ms. Candice Soares de Melo Candice graduated MSc in 2007 under the supervision of Professors Kelly Chibale and Mino Caira. Her thesis title was "Anti-cancer and anti-malarial 4‑aminoquinoline derivatives: synthesis and solid-state investigations". The main objective was to develop single agents that provide inhibition of both the growth of tumour cells and malaria parasites. This multi‑therapeutic strategy is achieved by hybridising various known anti‑malarial and anti‑cancer pharmacophores and/or bioactiphores together with the 4‑aminoquinoline moiety. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Cape Town in the Medicinal Chemistry research group of Professor Kelly Chibale. Her research involves Hit-to-lead medicinal chemistry development of anti-tuberculosis hits

Dr. Lesego Moitsheki

Lesego graduated in 2006 under the supervision of Prof. SA. Bourne and Prof. L.R. Nassimbeni . His PhD thesis entitled "Novel hybrid organic/inorganic materials" was based on making crystals of organic-inorganic hybrids. These are compounds known to combine the inherent advantages of both organic and inorganic substances. They possess catalytic effects, gas storage capabilities, could be used for solvent adsorption and separation, water purification, etc. For his research study, a large scope of inorganic compounds was investigated and these include compounds of actinides, lanthanides, transition and main group metals using dipyridyl ligands. Compounds prepared were characterized by x-ray diffractometry. Crystal structures were elucidated using X-SEED program. Thermal analysis (TG, DSC and HSM) was used to determine the thermal behaviour of these compounds. Microanalysis was used to confirm the elemental composition of compound synthesized.  
He is currently employed as a senior scientist at Sasol Technology R&D in the Coal Processing Technologies (CPT) division. His projects are based on coal.

Dr. Thabani Mhlongo

Thabani graduated in 2006 under the supervision and co-supervision of Prof Caira and Prof Nassimbeni respectively. His PhD thesis entitled "Polymorphism and Cyclodextrin Inclusion Complexes of Antihypertensive Agents" entailed a study on the potential of a group of antihypertensive agents to crystallise in more than one form, termed polymorphism and the inclusion of the poorly soluble drugs into cyclodextrins to enhance their solubility.  
He has since worked for Mintek, Randburg in the Nanotechnology Division.  His work focused on the modification of membranes with nanoparticles for water purification.  In August 2013 Thabani joined the Chemistry Department of Tshwane University of Technology, where he is continuing his research.

Dr. Kirsten Corin Kirsten's thesis entitled "Separation by Enclathration" was awarded in 2006, supervised by Prof Luigi Nassimbeni and Prof Susan Bourne. The study centered around the separation efficiency of chosen organic host compounds for a number of cyclic organic guests. After a short stint in the gas industry she returned to UCT and now works in the Centre for Minerals Research within the Department of Chemical Engineering where she specialises in Flotation Chemistry research.


Back Home