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Lab to limelight: Graduate researcher Raphael Oladokun snags prestigious national award

Raphael Oladokun

Statler graduate researcher Raphael Oladokun accepted this year's Graduate Student of the Year award at the Golden Torch ceremony on March 23 in Atlanta. (Photo supplied)

Chemical engineering graduate research assistant Raphael Oladokun has been recognized by the National Society of Black Engineers as this year’s Graduate Student of the Year. The ceremony was held on March 23 in Atlanta, Georgia as part of this year’s NSBE annual convention.

Story by Kaley LaQuea, Communications Specialist
Photos supplied


“I feel very grateful and I'm very excited to have received this award. NSBE gives us this platform, it gives every black student and black engineers more confidence like, ‘OK, we belong.’ And it encompasses all feats of engineering,” Oladokun said. “The support from WVU, the Statler College and the department has been invaluable. The leadership's commitment to diversity and inclusivity has significantly impacted my journey,” he added.

The 27th annual Golden Torch awards is a recognition from NSBE that honors the best and the brightest in engineering and STEM fields.

“This year's award is especially meaningful because it was announced at the 50th anniversary convention, attended by over 18,000 members. To be named the single most outstanding graduate student in the entire organization is a remarkable achievement," professor and NSBE advisor Brian Woerner said.

The event highlights the accomplishments and achievements of distinguished technical professionals, corporate, government and academic leaders as well as university and pre-college students.

"This is a highly prestigious award, and Raphael was selected from among students nationwide,” Woerner said. "Raphael is remarkable for his academic achievements, his leadership and his service. While building a strong record of research achievement and publication as a doctoral student, he has been an active leader within a number of student organizations. He has a passion for outreach and welcoming new students to the WVU community. He has been an active member of the WVU Student NSBE chapter and one of the leaders in contributing volunteer hours."

In October, Oladokun authored his second publication in a major journal for research on red blood cells’ response to stress, temperature and storage for research in clinical hematology and transfusion medicine. He’s involved in ongoing research related to medical devices for early cancer detection, tick-borne diseases and stem cells under the guidance of his research advisor and mentor Dr. Soumya Srivastava.

When he’s not in the lab, Oladokun is a committed service member in and out of the WVU community. He’s a Statler ambassador and member of the West Virginia Science Public Outreach Team. At last summer’s National Boy Scouts of America Jamboree event in Summit Bechtel Reserve, Oladokun helped get future engineers excited about materials science at the Science Behind the Sport station, demonstrating to scouts how polymers improve wheel performance for skateboarding. Oladokun sees mentorship as one of the most valuable aspects of being involved in the NSBE organization, and that includes seeking guidance for his own career.

“I’m excited to be part of this organization to meet people of like minds and find the right group for myself. More importantly, building my network and trying to find mentors who have achieved what I would say I'm still trying to achieve in life,” he said. “I've seen many people who have achieved this ahead of me and I can always look to see how they got there. I can learn from them, talk to them and hear from their experience.”

The WVU chapter of NSBE is also observing a significant milestone this year with the celebration of its 40th anniversary on April 13. For more information, visit the event website:



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

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Phone: 304-293-4135