Banothile Makhubela is from Mzinti, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. She obtained a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Zululand, and was awarded BSc. Honours and MSc. degrees in Chemistry by the University of Cape Town (UCT). Her research projects (supervised the late Prof John R. Moss and Prof Gregory Smith) focused on the synthesis and reactivity of platinum- and osmium-containing metallacycloalkanes - a class of organometallic compounds that are key intermediates in catalytic transformations such as oligomerization/polymerization and metathesis. This research also led to the development of a new synthetic route to osmium arene precursor complexes directly from potassium osmate – a result that has allowed easier access to osmium dimers through a less toxic and safer starting material such as potassium osmate instead of osmium tetroxide.
In 2012, she was awarded a Ph.D by UCT (supervised by Prof Gregory Smith and Dr. Anwar Jardine). Her research looked into the design and synthesis of novel platinum group metal (PGM) based organometallic complexes tethered onto macromolecules and biopolymers for applications in catalysis and green chemistry, with an emphasis on clean catalytic transformations in aqueous media, metal catalyst recycling and sustainability.
Banothile was awarded the UCT Science Faculty, Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and National Research Foundation (NRF) Innovation Postdoc Fellowships. Her postdoc study involved the development and evaluation of new PGM metal-containing polymers and metallodendrimers as anticancer agents. This work has revealed promising insights into the cytotoxic mechanism of ruthenium- and osmium–containing complexes/ macromolecules against cancerous cells, which will aid future rational design of metallodrugs.
In 2017, she was listed as one of the top 200 young and influential South Africans by the Mail and Guardian newspaper. She is a SciFinder Future Leader in Chemistry, German Academic Exchange (DAAD) alumnus and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Hope Fellow.
Dr Makhubela's research interests include the preparation and study of new metal complexes for applications in catalysis and metallodrug discovery.
The focus in catalysis is on how to use renewable and scalable resources, like plant biomass and carbon dioxide, to make useful products such as chemicals, fuel(blends) and functional polymers. The catalysis aspect of this research makes use of water-soluble homogeneous catalysts (to aid catalyst recycling and re-use) and heterogenized catalysts, with use of in situ spectroscopy and computational methods, for reaction pathway and kinetic studies.
The research group also prepares novel metal complexes for investigation as potential biomedicines. Here, the approach is to prepare bio-active molecule conjugated metal complexes as anticancer agents and to further probe the cytotoxic mechanism of these agents experimentally and by in silico methods.
- Dr Gift Mehlana, Department of Chemical Technology, Midlands State University, Zimbabwe.
- Dr Richard Tia, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry Centre, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.
- Dr Lungile Sitole, University of Johannesburg, Biochemistry.
- Prof Grace Mugumbate at the Dept. of Chemistry, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe.
- 2015-present: Senior Lecturer, University of Johannesburg, Dept. of Chemistry.
- 2014: Lecturer and Researcher Fellow, University of Cape Town, Dept. of Chemistry.
- 2011-2015: (Online) Teaching Assistant, University of South Africa, Dept.of Chemistry.