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2009 International DA

2009 Distinguished International Alumni Award Recipient — Charles Olaiya

UCM President Aaron Podolefsky with Charles Olaiya
UCM President Aaron Podolefsky, left, congratulates 2009 Distinguished International Alumnus Charles Olaiya.


Charles Olaiya is an environmental health scientist who has contributed to improved safety conditions associated with the cleanup of hazardous waste at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Richland, WA, as well as the DOE Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC.

Currently a resident of Riverdale, GA, he grew up in Nigeria and went on the study in the U.S., first earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and industrial management at the University of Texas-San Antonio in 1990, then a master’s degree in industrial hygiene from Central Missouri in 1993.

He followed up with a doctorate in 2006 from Tulane University in New Orleans. His dissertation at Tulane provided break-through research on the removal of chromium from nuclear waste, a process which is pending patent approval and expected to save the DOE an estimated $2 billion. In addition, his work in this area also led to his receiving the department’s Exceptional Services Award.

Olaiya began working two years ago as an industrial hygienist and environmental health scientist in the Office of Safety and Quality Assurance DOE Savannah River Site.

Before moving to the Southeast, he dedicated more than 14 years at Hanford, a site where plutonium was developed for nuclear weapons used during World War II and later during the Cold War. While at Hanford, he worked in the area of health risk assessment, industrial hygiene, occupational health medical monitoring and construction safety. He also was a tank waste remediation industrial hygienist, health risk assessment specialist, and occupational health and safety program manager for the Hanford High-Level Waste Tank Farms.

Wanting to help fellow Africans and inner-city youth in America, he started a scholarship at UCM in honor of his mother, Alice Fayemi Olaiya.