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Graduate Student Spotlight: Temi Ibitoye

Temi Ibitoye

Temi Ibitoye is a third-year Ph.D. student with a concentration in water, sanitation and hygiene. She grew up in Bowie, Maryland, and is advised by Dr. Angela Harris. Outside of CCEE, Ibitoye, who is interested in advocacy and science diplomacy, is involved in a science policy group on campus called SciPolPack.


What influenced you to go into engineering?

IBITOYE: A big part of how I found this field started with my faith. During my junior year of high school, I started thinking about what I would want to study in college. I knew that I really enjoyed math and chemistry in high school, so I felt like engineering was a good fit for me, but I couldn’t figure out what form of engineering. I spent a lot of time engaging in my faith and Jesus out in nature, and I was able to make the connection between the environment, chemistry and math — environmental engineering.


What problem(s) are you trying to solve? Why was NC State / CCEE a good fit for you?

IBITOYE: I would like to help ensure that everybody has access to clean water and safe sanitation. When applying
to graduate schools, I focused on programs that had water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) research. At NC State, there are several faculty that conduct WaSH research, and there is a cluster dedicated to it. It made me confident that I’d be able to explore my various interests within WaSH.


Where did your passion for this particular focus come from?

IBITOYE: Growing up in a Nigerian family, I heard tales of “Pure Water,” a bag of water sold in Nigeria that is notorious for making people sick. While anecdotes about this infamous water made me laugh as a child, it did not occur to me until my adolescence that this water is the best option for many Nigerians. Similarly, in the U.S., marginalized communities like those in Flint, Michigan, and rural Alabama lack access to basic water and sanitation. These challenges, along with my love for STEM, humanitarianism and the environment, led me to the field of water, sanitation and hygiene.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

IBITOYE: I see myself working in science diplomacy, a field focused on using scientific collaboration among nations to address common problems and build constructive international partnerships.


This story was originally published in CCEE’s Spring Newsletter.