About UAlberta's Augustana Campus


James Kariuki, PhD, MSc, BSc

Associate Professor/Chemistry

Augustana Campus


About Me


  • PhD in Analytical Chemistry, University of Alberta
  • MSc in Analytical Chemistry, Kenyatta University
  • BSc, Chemsitry major, Mathematics minor, Kenyatta University

Services and Activities

  • Member, Faculty Evaluation Committee (FEC)
  • Member, Standing Committee on Convocation
  • Member, International Students Engagement Committee
  • Member, Augustana Campus Annual Theme-2016/17
  • Member, Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC)
  • Many chemistry outreach activities at local schools
  • Reviewer for Journal of Chemical Education, Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Analyst, Analytical Chemistry, Electrochimica Acta



My research program is focused on two main areas: The first is research that involves several aspects of electrochemistry. These include the applications of electroanalytical chemistry utilizing low-cost carbon electrodes. The second involves research that determines environmental pollutants in soil and water. The focus of the research is the determination of heavy metals using atomic absorption spectroscopy and voltammetric methods. More details of my research program are given below. 

a) Preparation and Characterization of Thin Films on Carbon Electrodes

The first component of my research program is focused on the modification and use of carbon electrodes. The aim is to improve the efficiency of the carbon electrodes by changing their surface properties. The carbon electrodes are modified by attaching thin films on the surface. This is done by the electrochemical reduction of diazonium salts, which leads to covalent attachment of a thin film onto the carbon surface.  Electrochemical blocking studies with cyclic voltammetry are used to study the properties of the modified carbon electrodes. 

b) Development and Applications of Electroanalytical Chemistry Techniques

This research area is focused on utilizing electroanalytical methods for practical applications. The main objective is to use electrochemical techniques in the determination of a variety of analytes in diverse samples. One of our main focus areas is food chemistry. An example is the determination of antioxidants in fruit and vegetable samples. 

Another goal of the research program is to develop low-cost disposable carbon electrodes for use in electrochemical sensors. We also use chemical-based assays for the determination of antioxidants as a complimentary technique to determine the amounts of antioxidants in foods. 

c) Determination of Heavy Metals in Soil and Water Samples Using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy 

This research program focuses on the determination of heavy metals in soil and water samples. The amount of heavy metals is determined using both flame-based atomic absorption and graphite furnace spectroscopy. This research area is of interest to both chemistry and environmental chemistry majors.

Selected Publications

  • Kariuki, J.; Ervin, E.; Olafson, C. Development of a novel, low-cost, disposable wooden pencil graphite electrode for use in the determination of antioxidants and other biological compounds (Invited). Sensors. 2015,15, 18887-18900.
  • Ervin, M. E.; Kariuki, J. K. Effect of Extraction Method on Antioxidant Determination in Produce by Differential Pulse Voltammetry. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci. 2014, 9, 6235-6245.
  • Ervin, M. E.; Adams, B. T.; Snyman, N.; Phenix, C. P.; Kariuki, J. K.; Rempel, B. P. Carbohydrate-Modified Electrode Surfaces Sensitive to β-Glucosidase Enzyme Activity. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci. 2014, 9, 6043-6048.
  • Merichel, M.; Kariuki, J.; Turner, C. Quantification of Individual Phenolic Compounds’ Contribution to Antioxidant Capacity in Apple: A Novel Analytical Tool Based on Liquid Chromatography with Diode Array, Electrochemical, and Charged Aerosol Detection. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62 (2), 409–418.
  • Kariuki, J. K. An Electrochemical and Spectroscopic Characterization of Pencil Graphite Electrodes. J. Electrochem. Soc. 2012, 159(9), H747-H751.
  • Esch, J. R.; Friend, J. R.; Kariuki, J. K. Determination of the Vitamin C Content of Conventionally and Organically Grown Fruits by Cyclic Voltammetry. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci. 2010, 5, 1464-1474.
  • King, D.; Friend, J.; Kariuki, J. K. Measuring Vitamin C Content of Commercial Orange Juice Using a Pencil Lead Electrode. J. Chem. Educ. 2010, 87(5), 507-509.
  • Kanda, V.; Kariuki, J. K.; Harrison, D. J.; McDermott, M. T. Label-Free Reading of Microarray-Based Immunoassays with Surface Plasmon Resonance Imaging. Anal. Chem. 2004, 76(24), 7257-7262.
  • Furdui, V. I.; Kariuki, J. K.; Harrison, D. J. Microfabricated Electrolysis Pump System for Isolating Rare Cells in Blood. J. Micromech. Microeng. 2003, 13, S164-S170.
  • Kariuki, J. K.; McDermott, M. T. Formation of Multilayers on Glassy Carbon. Langmuir, 2001, 17, 5947-5951.
  • Goh, A. Y. L.; Kariuki, J. K.; Skelhorne, A. W.; Bhattacharyya, A.; McDermott, M. T.; Forest, T. W.; Steadman, G. Preliminary Results on the Effect of Methanol-Based Fuels on the Tensile Properties of FRP Micro-Specimens. Advanced Composites Letters, 2001, 10(4), 155-169.
  • Kariuki, J. K.; McDermott, M. T. Nucleation and Growth of Functionalized Aryl Films on Graphite Electrodes. Langmuir, 1999, 15, 6534-6540.

Selected Presentations

  • Olafson, C.; Kariuki J. (2016). Analyzing the Effect of Brewing Method on Antioxidant Content of Coffee Using Activated Pencil Graphite Electrodes. 30th Western Canadian Undergraduate Chemistry Conference, Winnipeg, Canada.
  • Kariuki, J.; Olafson, C.; Ervin, E. (2016). Utilization of a Low-Cost Pencil Graphite Electrode for Electroanalytical Analysis. 99th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Halifax, Canada.
  • Kariuki, J.; Rempel, B.; McGinitie, E. (2016). Colour in Our World: Using Colour Changes to Visualize Chemical Reactions. University of Alberta, Augustana Campus, Faculty Talk Series, Camrose, Canada.
  • Marynowski, C.; Kariuki, J. (2015). Utilizing Chemistry Demonstrations to Enhance Student Learning with. Our Lady of Mount Pleasant Catholic School Chemistry Demonstrations Presentation, Camrose, Canada.
  • Kariuki, J.; Ervin, E.; Olafson, C. (2015). Low Cost Electrochemistry: Current and Future Applications. International Symposium on Chemical Innovation, Education and Commercialization, Canmore, Canada.
  • Kariuki, J.; Ervin, E.; Olafson, C. (2015). Voltammetric Determination of Antioxidants with a Low-Cost Pencil Graphite Electrode. 98th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Kariuki, J.; Olafson, C.; Ervin, E.; Duan, J.; Marsden, N. (2015). Chemistry That You Can See: Chemistry Demonstrations. Junior High Grade 9 Students, Camrose, Canada.
  • Kariuki, J.; Rempel, B. (2014). Fun with Chemistry: Chemistry Demonstrations. Augustana Campus Science Olympics, Camrose, Canada.
  • Ervin, E.; Kariuki, J. (2014). Using Pencil Graphite Electrodes for the Determination of Antioxidants in Fruits and Vegetables. Student Academic Conference, Augustana Campus, University of Alberta, Camrose, Canada.


"To teach is to learn twice over" ~ Joseph Joubert

I have taught a number of chemistry courses over the years at  various levels. The courses include senior and junior undergraduate courses as well as senior individual research-based chemistry courses. The courses are listed below.

      • AUCHE 110: General Chemistry I: A general introduction to chemistry. Topics include atomic structure; bonding and bonding theories; periodic trends; states of matter and intermolecular forces; and chemical kinetics.  

        • AUCHE 112: General Chemistry II: Continuation of AUCHE 110. Topics include thermodynamics, free energy, equilibria, acid-base chemistry, buffers, oxidation-reduction reactions, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry.

        • AUCHE 220: Analytical Chemistry: Theoretical and practical aspects of chemical analysis. Topics include gravimetry, titrimetry, separations, acid-base equilibria, chromatography, and spectrophotometry. Examples emphasize the utility and limitations of analytical techniques. 
        • AUCHE 222: Instrumental Analysis: Study of the theory and practice of instrumental methods of analysis. Topics include atomic absorption and emission spectroscopy, fluorometry, liquid and gas chromatography, physical separations, and electrochemical methods. Examples include the analysis of chemicals with environmental importance.
        • AUCHE 279: Physical Chemistry: Topics include the laws of thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, surface chemistry, and chemical kinetics and catalysis and spectroscopy and photochemistry.
        • AUCHE 320: Analytical Chemistry III: Theory and application of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.
        • AUCHE 405: Selected Topics in Chemistry: In-depth examination of selected topics in chemistry
        • AUCHE 397/399: Directed Reading I/II: Supervised literature review research project.
        • AUCHE 390/392: Senior Project I/II: A research project on a specific topic in chemistry determined jointly by the student and the professor.
        • AUCHE 490/492: Advanced Project I/II: A research project on a specific topic in chemistry determined jointly by the student and the professor.
        • AUCHE 497: Directed Reading III: Supervised literature review research project.