Oluwatobi (Tobi) Odeleye is a chemical education researcher with a passion for inspiring a love of STEM fields in students. An assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry at Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, she studies the factors that influence student attitudes toward chemistry. To that end, she authored an American Chemical Society eBook, “Chemistry Student Success” and hopes to continue engaging students in the classroom.
I am hopeful that my work will inspire and encourage more students to look into STEM fields and see that it is something they can do, and not something to be intimidated by.
Q: Give us a little background about yourself.
A: I was born in Nigeria and spent the first 17 years of my life there. I came to the U.S. in 2006 to pursue my college education. I spent a couple of years at a community college and then went on to get my bachelor's and master's in chemistry from Eastern Michigan University. I then moved to South Dakota State University to get my Ph.D. in chemistry, with a focus on chemistry education research.
Q: The road that led you to WVU is an interesting one.
A: I initially thought I wanted to be a medical doctor, and my first major was biochemistry/pre-med, but I quickly realized I didn't enjoy biology and wanted to focus on chemistry because I enjoyed it a lot! I tutored quite a bit in college, and that was fun for me. So, after college, I decided I wanted to teach chemistry at the college level, and to do that, I needed a Ph.D. in chemistry. I picked chemistry education as my area of research because I wanted to look at factors that influenced students' attitudes towards chemistry specifically, but also towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in general.
Q: Chemistry can feel intimidating. Should it?
A: I would like to explore ways to make chemistry (and other STEM fields) more accessible and less intimidating to people. I think chemistry is really cool, and I would like for everyone to be able to appreciate the awesomeness that is chemistry...even if they don't end up liking it as much as I do!
I am hopeful that my work will inspire and encourage more students to look into STEM fields and see that it is something they can do, and not something to be intimidated by.Written by Laura Roberts