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 Prof. Priscilla Baker

Position: SARChi Chair and Senior Professor of Chemistry
Department: Department of Chemistry
Faculty: Faculty of Natural Science
Qualifications: BSc, University of Cape Town, 1990
BSc Honours, University of the Western Cape, 1995
Masters, University of the Western Cape, 1997
PhD, University of Stellenbosch, 2004
Tel: 021 959 3051
Fax: 021 959 3055


 Professional Experience
SARChi Chair: Analytical Systems and Processes for Priority and Emerging Contaminants (ASPPEC), 2018-present
Director: South African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC), November 2017-present
Senior Professor, University of the Western Cape, 2018-present
Department HoD, University of the Western Cape, 2017-2018
Department Deputy HoD, University of the Western Cape, 2011-2016
Co-leader: SensorLab, University of the Western Cape, 2004-present

The use of electrochemical sensors as sensitive and selective analytical tools for evaluation and monitoring of analyte species in the environment, food water and health has been established unequivocally. Semi conductive polymers and polymer composites of polyaniline, polypyrrole, polyamic acid and polysulfone may be readily synthesised as electrochemical transducers onto screen printed electrodes. These electrodes are compatible with multi array ensembles, for the purpose of multi element analysis, which reduces the cost and time associated with evaluation and quantitative analysis.

Research Emphasis
Analytical chemistry, electrochemistry, nanomaterials, sensors for priority and emerging pollutants

Electro-responsive nanomaterials
Electro-responsive polymers can be used to prepare materials that swell, shrink, or bend in response to an electric signal. They can transform electrical energy into mechanical energy and have shown promising application in biomechanics, artificial muscle actuation, sensing, energy transduction, sound dampening, chemical separations, and controlled drug delivery, these polymers are an increasingly important class of smart materials.  Research in this area will lead to the development of stimuli responsive electroactive polymer nanocomposites including in situ electro-polymerisation of polypyrrole, polyamic acid, polysulfone and graphene oxide to produce polymer blends.

Priority and emerging contaminants
Environmental watchdog organisations have identified a priority listing in each class of environmental pollutants i.e. volatile organic compounds (VOC), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants (EPPPs), highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs),  and perfluorinated chemicals. The ubiquitous use of pharmaceuticals (both prescribed and over the counter) has resulted in a relatively continuous discharge of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites into wastewater. In addition, pharmaceuticals may be released into water sources in the effluents from poorly controlled manufacturing or production facilities, primarily those associated with generic medicines. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified pharmaceuticals in drinking-water as an “emerging issue” which requires constant monitoring and re-assessment of guidelines for safe water use.

Photoelectrochemical water splitting is a process that converts solar energy into chemical energy and stores it in chemical bonds, by producing hydrogen as a clean fuel source. Electrocatalysis plays a key role in this energy conversion processes central to several renewable energy technologies that have been developed to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. However, the best electrocatalysts for these processes often contain scarce and expensive noble metals, substantially limiting the potential for these technologies to compete with fossil fuels. The considerable challenge is to develop robust electrocatalysts composed of low-cost, earth-abundant elements (e.g. , WO3, Cu, ZnO, Cu, Cu2O) that exhibit activity comparable to that of the noble metals.




Selected Publications:

1.   Sensory Properties of Polysulfone Hydrogel for Electro-Analytical Profiling of Vanadium and Selenium in Aqueous Solutions. Francis Ntumba Muya, Xolani Terrance Ngema, Priscilla Gloria Lorraine Baker, Emmanuel Iheanyichukwu Iwuoha. Journal of Nano Research 2016 (44) p142-157.

2.   Spectro-Electrochemical of Detection Anthracene at Electrodeposited Polyamic Acid Thin Films. Xolani Terrance Ngema, Meryk Ward, Siyabulela Hamnca, Priscilla Gloria Lorraine Baker, Emmanuel Iheanyichukwu Iwuoha. Journal of Nano Research 2016 (44) p63-78.

3.   Electrochemical Transduction at Modified Boron Doped Diamond Interfaces. Lisebo Phelane, Siyabulela Hamnca, Priscilla Gloria Lorraine Baker, Emmanuel Iheanyichukwu Iwuoha. Journal of Nano Research 2016 (44), p.51-62

4.   Non-enzymatic polyamic acid sensors for hydrogen peroxide detection.  Zamfir, L. G., Rotariu, L., Marinescu, V. E., Simelane, X. T., Baker, P. G., Iwuoha, E. I., Bala, C. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, 226 (2016), 525-533.

5.   A Fumonisins Immunosensor Based on Polyanilino-Carbon Nanotubes Doped with Palladium Telluride Quantum Dots. Milua Masikini, Stephen N. Mailu, Abebaw Tsegaye, Njagi Njomo, Kerileng M. Molapo, Chinwe O. Ikpo, Christopher Edozie Sunday, Candice Rassie, Lindsay Wilson, Priscilla G. L. Baker and Emmanuel I. Iwuoha.   Sensors 2015, 15, 529-546.

6.   Organic Clathrate Compounds as Suitable Transducers in Electrochemical Sensing.  Nohako, K. L., Baker, P. G., Iwuoha, E. I. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci, 10 (2015) 6959-6974.

7.   Polypyrrole Derivatives in the Design of Electrochemically Driven Actuators.  Meryck Ward, Priscilla Baker, Emmanuel Iwuoha, Pierre-Henri Aubert and  Cedric Plesse; Mini Reviews in Organic Chemistry 12(5) 2015: 414 – 423.

8.   Actuation Behaviour of a Derivatized Pyrrole Accordion Type Polymer. Meryck Ward, Shanielle Botha, Emmanuel Iwuoha, Priscilla Baker. International Journal of Electrochemical Science 9 (2014) 4776 - 4792




Chapters in Books

1.   Electrocatalytic sensor applications of nanostructured polypyrroles and polythiophenes. Richard Akinyeye, Immaculate Michira, Shanielle Botha, Priscilla Baker and Emmanuel Iwuoha.  Recent Advances in Analytical Electrochemistry, 2007: 99-136 ISBN: 978-81-7895-274-1. Chapter 4, Edited by: Kenneth I. Ozoemena


2.   Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy of transition metal doped tin oxide thin film materials as potential oxidative catalysts.  PGL Baker, AM Crouch, RD Sanderson.  Recent Advances in Analytical Electrochemistry, 2007: 279-307 ISBN: 978-81-7895-274-1. Chapter 10, Edited  by: Kenneth I. Ozoemena.




 University of the Western Cape:
BSc 4 year programme curriculum advisory committee (2006/7)
Member of Senate (2007+)
Science Faculty Student Affairs committee (2008)
Science Faculty Safety representative (2009-2010
Senate advisory committee on technology transfer (2011+)
Senate International relations committee (2012+)
Leadership positions:
Co-leader: Sensor research laboratory, Chemistry department, UWC, 2004-
Chairperson: Electrochemical division of SACI (ElectrochemSA), 2007+
Council member: South African Chemical Institute (2007+)
Deputy HOD: Chemistry department (2011-)
Journal Reviewer: Analytica Chimica Acta ; Journal of Applied Chemistry, Sensors,
Biosensors Bioelectronics; Talanta; Electrochimica Acta and others
Guest editor:  (i) Electrochimica Acta special issue “Sensors and Sensor
Technology”; Electrochimica Acta  55 (14), 30 May 2010
(ii) Analytical Letters, Volume 44 (11) June 2011

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