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Meet the Grads: Taoreed Lawal, a journey from Nigeria to achieve the unattainable

A portrait of Taoreed Lawal

After hearing about West Virginia University while studying in Saudi Arabia at King Fahd University of Petroleum, Taoreed Lawal knew this was the University that would provide him an advantage in his career.

Story by Adrianne Uphold, Graduate Assistant


Lawal, a native of Nigeria, is now a master’s student studying safety management and industrial hygiene in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

“I learned about the hospitable people of Morgantown while I was in Saudi Arabia from a friend,” Lawal said. “Upon arriving here, I realized that WVU is more than the hospitality of the people of Morgantown. WVU made me realize that with good mentors around you, you can achieve the unimaginable.”

Lawal spent 28 years living in Nigeria where he received his bachelor's degree in agricultural extension and rural development from Obafemi Awolowo University before moving to Saudi Arabia to study environmental science at King Fahd University of Petroleum in 2013. It was during this time that Lawal developed an interest in industrial hygiene.

“Things have to be done to minimize environmental impact and ensure minimal risk to workers health and the environment in general,” Lawal said. “My goal is to be a major contributor to environmental waste management and control; waste management is a major contributor to the declining environmental safety. I would also like to provide a safer environment for workers.”

Lawal’s research focused on determining how much exposure workers wearing N95 filtering face piece respirators had to contaminated air in order to figure out how to reduce this and better ensure workers’ safety how to better ensure workers that work in contaminated air environments are better protected, such as his work on creating facepiece filtering respirators.

“My program in WVU has equipped me with the necessary tools to be able to recognize, anticipate and provide solutions to many challenges that could be a potential source of hazard to workers,” Lawal said. “My research work on N95 filtering facepiece filtering for respirators has also prepared me with better understanding of the importance and limitations of different personal protective equipment in providing protection for workers in the workplace.”

After moving to the United States, Lawal had a difficult time transitioning to the harsh West Virginia winters and struggled with a communication barrier.

“It’s very hot in Saudi Arabia and transitioning from a very hot weather to a January winter in Morgantown was a bit difficult,” Lawal said. “With the help of friends, I met here, I found it easy to adapt to the weather easily. Another challenge I had moving to West Virginia was my accent. I had challenges with communication. However, after few months discussing with friends, I learnt a better pace for communication.”

After graduating in December, Lawal plans to work in environmental waste management and control to provide a safer environment for workers.

“I intend to spend my initial years in an industry where I can have more knowledge of waste production, its impact to workers and the environment, and providing a safer environment for workers,” Lawal said. “My long-term career goal is to join a known environmental and safety agency to research the best solutions for managing industrial and domestic waste products as well as ensuring workers’ exposure to contaminants in the workplace is minimal.”



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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Phone: 304-293-4135