By Mike Wooten
William Kisaalita, a member of the University of Georgia faculty since 1991, has been named a Georgia Athletic Association (GAA) Distinguished Professor in Engineering. The GAA established the endowed professorship to encourage leadership in multi-disciplinary projects that address global challenges.
Kisaalita teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses in the UGA College of Engineering. His research in tissue engineering focuses on cell-based biosensors with applications in drug discovery. In addition, he works to develop technology that assists people in low resource settings. Kisaalita’s efforts to design a biofuel-powered cooler to keep milk safe and healthy to drink in areas without electricity, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, earned a $1 million research grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“I am deeply humbled and honored by this recognition of my work by the Georgia Athletic Association,” said Kisaalita. “I am also encouraged to continue engaging our students in solving challenges in places that are often ignored. What seems a small difference can be made huge from the perspective of those in these settings.”
Throughout his career, Kisaalita has developed research activities and international service-learning projects that have engaged students in helping solve real-world problems.
“My most cherished experiences with students have been in engineering design project courses involving global service-learning and the companion summer research programs overseas with students,” said Kisaalita. “Watching in real-time and being part of these transformational experiences with the students is priceless.”
Kisaalita has received several awards for his teaching, research and service including the UGA President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award (2016), the Lioba Moshi Award for Service in African Studies (2015), the UGA College of Engineering Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award (2015), the UGA College of Engineering Excellence in Instruction Award (2014), the USAID Powering Agriculture Award (2013), and the UGA Scholarship of Engagement Award (2008). He was named University Mentor of the Year for Undergraduate Research in 2004.
Along with his teaching and research responsibilities, Kisaalita has served as the associate director of UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and he is a faculty mentor for students in the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.
“William is an inspiring instructor and researcher and his work is an excellent example of how engineering directly touches people’s lives,” said Donald Leo, dean of the College of the Engineering. “Our college is grateful to the Georgia Athletic Associate for its support of faculty members like Dr. Kisaalita who are committed to tackling the world’s grand challenges.”
Kisaalita received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.