Chemistry and Biochemistry
Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs
CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies
Areas of Expertise/Research
- Organic Material Chemistry
- Soft Matter/Colloid Science
- Green Amphiphiles, Surfactants and Materials
- Organic Synthesis
Center for Discovery and Innovation
George John is recognized for his active research in the field of functional molecular materials from renewable resources and their potential utility in food materials/energy technologies and materials science. After receiving his Ph.D. from NIIST-CSIR (India) in Chemistry, he held research positions in the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States before joining the City College of New York (CCNY). Currently he is a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CCNY. The research in John’s laboratory is highly interdisciplinary, and is focused on molecular design of synthetic lipids (biobased), membrane mimics, soft materials, trans fat alternatives, food materials and food chemistry, and organic materials chemistry. Current research thrusts are on (i) oleogel technology, (ii) green battery components from biomass, and the mechanistic understanding to design a future throw-away battery (iii) molecular gel based organic scintillators for cancer imaging and (iv) amphiphilic molecules, assembly and surfactants from biomass. His group has successfully developed molecular gel technologies, vegetable oil thickening agents, and trans-fat alternatives, environmentally benign antibacterial paints and oil spill recovery materials, He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), a senior Fulbright Scholar, and was a recipient of the Tokyo University of Sciences (TUS) President Award, the Pfizer Visiting Professorship at (IISc) Bangalore, and the Kerala Center Award. He holds more than a dozen patents on inventions related to value-added chemicals/surfactants from renewable resources and their potential utility in food and biomaterials.
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Twente, The Netherlands (1994-1995)
Ph.D. Chemistry, NIIST Thiruvananthapuram (University of Kerala India) (1987-1992)
M.Sc. Chemistry, Mahatma Gandhi University, India (1983-1985)
B.Sc. Chemistry, University of Kerala, India (1980-1983)
2012 -Present Professor, Department of Chemistry, the City College of New York
2004 – 2012 Associate Professor of Chemistry, the City College of New York
2002 - 2004 Research faculty, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
2001 - 2002 CREST fellow, Nanoarchitectonics Res. Center, AIST Tsukuba, Japan
1999 - 2000 NIMC fellow, AIST Tsukuba, Japan
1997 - 1998 Research scientist, JSBC Japan
1995 - 1997 STA fellow, AIST Hokkaido, Japan
1994 - 1995 Postdoctoral fellow, University of Twente, The Netherlands
1993 - 1994 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Calicut, India
John’s research is rooted in the idea that innovation can be inspired by nature to develop economical and green technologies for a sustainable future. The group has harnessed crop-based precursors such as sugars, fatty acids and plant lipids to design a unique set of multifunctional soft-materials including polymers, gels and green surfactants. His group has successfully developed environmentally benign antibacterial paints, polymer-coatings, molecular gel technologies, oil spill recovery materials, battery components and oil thickening agents. As soft materials research is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, John’s lab encourages the blending of such diverse elements including organic synthesis, green chemistry, material chemistry, interfacial phenomena, colloid science, materials and chemical engineering and biomimetics. More specifically:
- Biobased Chemicals and Materials through Green Chemistry: Chemistry and Chemical Technologies in valorization of renewable organic residues as feedstocks for the production of value-added chemicals, materials and products such as green surfactants, emulsions and green cosmetics through simple organic transformations/enzyme catalysis. Multifunctional soft-materials including polymers, gels and surfactants.
- Design of new Oil Structuring Agents and Trans Fat Alternatives [fat mimics]: Vegetable thickening agents, trans fat free structured vegetable oil (fat) for bakery use, chocolate and cookie making. Molecular gel chemistry and technologies.
- Bio-derived Interfacial Chemicals in Oil Spill Mitigation Green Technologies: Phase Selective Gels. Mechanism of gel formation at the water/oil interface. Chemical Herding: Surfactant mediated oil spill mitigation chemicals and technology.
- Organic Battery Components/Molecular Electrode Materials in Energy Storage Technologies: Developing non-toxic, throwaway battery components from naturally derived organic molecules (e.g. Purpurin dye, and Henna based tattoo chemical) with comparable performance to the current gold standard of Li-ion batteries.
80. Miroshnikov, M.; Mahankali, K.; Kumar Thangavel, N.; Satapathy, S.; Arava, LMR.; Ajayan, PM.; John, G, Bioderived Molecular Electrodes for Next-Generation Energy-Storage Materials, ChemSusChem 2020, 13, 2186–2204. Invited Mini Review, selected as Very Important Paper and for the Cover page feature. 
79. Panettieri, S.; Paddibhatla, I.; Chou, J.; Rajwani, R.; Moore, R.S.; Goncharuk, T.; John, G.; Govind, S. Discovery of aspirin-triggered eicosanoid-like mediators in a Drosophila metainflammation-blood tumor model, J. Cell Sci., 2020,133, 5, jcs236141.
78. Miroshnikov, M.; Kato, K.; Babu, G.; Kumar Thangavel, N.; Mahankali, K.; Hohenstein, E.; Wang, H.; Satapathy, S.; Divya, KP.; Asare, H.; Ajayan, PM.; Arava, LMR.; John, G, Made From Henna! A Fast-Charging, High-Capacity, and Recyclable Tetrakislawsone Cathode Material for Lithium Ion Batteries, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2019, 7, 13836–13844.
77. Miroshnikov, M.; Kato, K.; Babu, G.; Kumar Thangavel, N.; Mahankali, K.; Hohenstein, E.; Wang, H.; Satapathy, S.; Divya, KP.; Asare, H.; Ajayan, PM.; Arava, LMR.; John, Nature-Derived Sodium-Ion Battery: Mechanistic Insights into Na-Ion Coordination within Sustainable Molecular Cathode Materials, ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2019, 2, 12, 8596–8604.
76. Balachandran, VS.; Divya, KP.; Samateh, M.; Sagiri, S.; Satapathy, S.; Pradhan, P; Raghavan, SR.; Rakesh, L.; Sellers, MS.; Karna, SP.; John, G, Freestanding organogels by molecular velcro of unsaturated amphiphiles, Soft Matter, 2019,15, 6263-6268., Cover page feature. 
75. John, G.; Nagarajan, S.; Vemula, PR.; Silverman, JR.; Pillai, CKS, Natural monomers: A mine for functional and sustainable materials – Occurrence, chemical modification and polymerization, Prog. Polym. Sci., 2019, 92, 158-209.
74. Panettieri, S.; Silverman, JR.; Nifosí, R.; Signore, G.; Bizzarri, R.; John, G, Unique Photophysical Behavior of Coumarin-Based Viscosity Probes during Molecular Self-Assembly, ACS Omega 2019, 4, 3, 4785-4792.
73. Samateh, G.; Pottackal, N.; Manafirasi, S.; Vidyasagar, A.; Maldarelli C.; John, G. Unravelling the secret of seed-based gels in water: the nanoscale 3D network formation, Scientific Reports, 2018, 8, 7315-7322. Top 100 in Chemistry [most highly accessed* chemistry articles in 2018. *According to nature.com web analytics, covering January-December 2018]
72. Panettieri, S.; Gjinaj, E.; John, G.; Lohman, DJ. Different ommochrome pigment mixtures enable sexually dimorphic Batesian mimicry in disjunct populations of the common palmfly butterfly, Elymnias hypermnestra, PloS one, 2018, 23, 9, e0202465.
71. Miroshnikov, M., Kato, K., Ganguli, B., Divya, KP., Arava, LMR., Ajayan, PM., John, G. A common tattoo chemical for energy storage: henna plant-derived naphthoquinone dimer as
a green and sustainable cathode material for Li-ion batteries, RSC Adv., 2018, 8, 1576–1582.
70. Silverman, JR., Zhang, Q., Pramanik, NB., Samateh, M., Shaffer, TM., Sagiri, SS., Grimm, J., John, G. Radiation-Responsive Esculin-Derived Molecular Gels as Signal Enhancers for Optical Imaging, ACS Appl. Mater Interfaces. 2017, 9 (49), 43197–43204.
69. Vinod, S., Tiwary, CS., Samanta, A., Ozden, A., Narayanan, Tharangattu, N., Vajtai, R., Agarwal, V., Singh, AK., John, G. Ajayan, PM. Graphene Oxide Epoxy (GO-xy): GO as Epoxy Adhesive by Interfacial Reaction of Functionalities, Adv. Mater. Interfaces. 2017,1700657.
68. Miroshnikov, M, Divya, KP., Babu, G., Meiyazhagan, A., Arava, AMA., Ajayan, PM., John, G. Power from nature: designing green battery materials from electroactive quinone derivatives and organic polymers, J. Mater. Chem. A., 2016, 4, 12370-12386.
67. Divya, KP., Miroshnikov, M., Dutta, D., Vemula, PK., Ajayan, PM., John, G. In situ synthesis of metal nanoparticle embedded hybrid soft nanomaterials, Acc. Chem. Res., 2016, 49, 1671–1680.
• 2016 - Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)
• 2015 - Senior Fulbright Scholar Award
• 2015 - Visiting Professor, Max Plank Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany
• 2014 - Tokyo University of Science (TUS) President Award and Visiting Professor, Tokyo, Japan
• 2014 - Pfizer Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Science (IISc. Bangalore)
• 2014 - Visiting faculty, Department of Chemical and Biol. Engineering, Princeton 2014-15 (sabbatical)
• 2010 - RSC International Author Travel Award, UK
• 2010 - Second Best Poster Award at the Cosmetic Society of New York, NY
• 2010 - Feature in Discovery News, MSNBC, Nature Materials, Nature Chemistry and other media
• 2009 - Kerala Center Award, NY
• 2007 - Noritake Materials Chemistry (faculty development) Award, Japan
• 2007 - Royal Society of Chemistry - Best Cover Page of the Year Award
• 2001 - Japan Science and Technology (CREST) Fellowship, Japan
• 1995 - STA Fellowship by Japan JISTEC, Govt. of Japan
• 1987 - Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Fellowship by Govt. of India
Plenary, keynote or invited talks (selected):
Keynote speaker, 10th Workshop on Fats and Oils as Renewable Feedstock for the Chemical Industry, Karlsruhe, Germany, March 17 – 19, 2019.
Invited talk, Organic Battery Days 2019, Friedrich Schiller University Jena Center for Energy and Environmental Chemistry Jena, Germany, June 3-5, 2019.
Invited talk, Gordon Research Conferences, Biomass to Biobased Chemicals and Materials. Jordan Hotel at Sunday River in Newry, ME. July 14-19, 2019.
Invited talk, Chemistry & Utilization of Agro-Based Materials, Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting, San Diego Convention Center, CA. 8/27/2019.
Invited talk, Food Innovation & Engineering Conference (FOODIE), hosted by AIChE’s Food, Pharmaceutical & Bioengineering Division, DoubleTree by Hilton, Philadelphia, December 8-10, 2019.
Invited talk: 25th Annual Meeting Of the BioEnvironmental Polymer Society, Rensselaer Polytechnic University (RPI), Troy, New York, August 17, 2018
Invited talk: Advanced Materials for Energy & the Environment: Design, Fabrication & Application, Division of Environmental Chemistry, 256th ACS National Meeting, Boston 8/21/2018
Invited talk: Innovation and Investment Potential session, 5th High Oleic Oils Congress (HOC2018) in Montréal, Canada. The Palais des Congrès, Montréal, 9/6/2018
Invited talk: Lubrizol Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio 44141-3247 USA, 11/19/2018
Invited talk: Symposium on Green Polymer Chemistry: Biobased Materials and Biocatalysis, 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Washington, DC. August 20-24, 2017.
Invited talk: 24th Annual Meeting of the BioEnvironmental Polymer Society (BEPS), USDA-ARS, Albany, CA, 9/21/2017
Plenary speaker, Colloid and Surface Chemistry Symposium, Chemical Society of Japan, Asahikawa, Japan, 09/22/2016
Invited talk, Nanotechnology Applications of Agrochemicals towards Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Beijing, China, 17-18 Nov., 2016
Invited talk, Maxplank Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam-Golm, Germany, 6/2015
Invited talk, ACS National Meeting, Denver, USA, 3/2015
Keynote speaker, Int. Symp. Functional Fibrous Materials, Jiangnan University in Wuxi, China, 12/2014
Keynote speaker, for AOCS-OTAI International Conference, India, 8/2013
Keynote speaker, AOCS National Meeting, Montreal, Canada, 4/2013 (Organizer & Session Chair)
Keynote speaker, Avant Symposium, Ashland Inc. Paris, France, 4/2013
Plenary speaker, 2nd Argentinean Workshop in Environmental Science, Rosario, 5/2012
Keynote speaker, NYSCC 2011 (Cosmetic Society of New York), NJ, 11/2011
Keynote speaker, ACS Colloid Conference, Montreal, 6/2011
Plenary speaker, BioEnvironmental Polymer Society Meeting Chicago, 6/2009
Plenary speaker, Leatherhead Food International, Food Conference, 6/2009
Newsworthy Research Featured in Journals, Magazines and other Media (selected):
Discovery News, New York Times, Scientific American, Newsweek, Nature, Science, Nature Materials, Nature Nanotech., Nature Chemistry. C&EN, New Scientist (UK)
Biodegradable Chemical Could Be Greener Option for Oil Spill Cleanup (AAAS), C&EN etc.
Sugar Derivative Solidifies Oil (C&EN): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRSZNMplGtc
“New Materials Turns Oil from Liquid to Solid: The soap like molecule could help clean up after oil spills” Discovery News, Nature Materials/Chemistry, C&EN and MSNBC
“CCNY Chemist Design Molecule that Respond to Stimuli” Science Magazine, 11/2010
“Nanofibers Deliver Drug to Exact Spot” The NewScientist, ‘this week’ 01/2009
“Harnessing Biology, and Avoiding Oil, for Chemical Goods” New York Times, 04/2008
“Nanoparticles help paint resist germs” Materials Today, 02/2008
“Smart Gel-O” Newsweek, 02/2006
Service to Community (selected)
Editorial Board Member - Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy (ASP) (Current)
Editorial Board Member - International Journal of Green Nanotechnology (T/F) (Current)
Editorial Advisory Board - Current Green Chemistry, Bentham Science Publishers (2014-2018)
Ad hoc and Panel Reviewer for Federal and International Agencies: The National Science Foundation (NSF), The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (PRF), Department of Energy (DOE), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), NSERC Canada, The Canada Research Chairs Program.
Reviewer for National and International Journals: Reviewer for >50 journals; from Nature Publishing Group (Nature, Nature Materials, Nature Chemistry, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports), Science (Science and Science Advances), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ACS (Journal of American Chemical Society, Chemistry of Materials, Journal of Organic Chemistry, Langmuir, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, ACS Applied Energy Materials, J. Chem. Ed. etc.) RSC (Chemical Science, Chemical Communications, Soft Matter, Journal of Materials Chemistry A. etc.), Wiley-VCH (Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials etc.) and Elsevier Journals (Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Biomaterials etc.)
Co-Chair, 91st ACS Colloids and Surface Science Symposium, City College of New York (2017)
AOCS Hot Topic Symposium Session Organizer and Chair (2013)
Salzberg Chemistry Seminar Coordinator, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CCNY
Member, Graduate Admissions Committee, Ph.D. Program in Chemistry, CUNY
Member, Search Committee for a Faculty Member in Organic Chemistry
Member, Search Committee for Organic and Biochemistry Technicians
Member, Executive Committee of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department
Chair, Organic Chemistry Division, The City College of New York
Chemistry 261 (Undergraduate, Organic Chemistry 1, Lecture)
Chemistry 262 (Undergraduate, Organic Chemistry 1, Laboratory)
Chemistry 210 (Undergraduate, Applied Chemistry for BME, Lecture, partial)
Chemistry B3000 (Masters/Undergraduate, Polymer Chemistry, Lecture)