Dr. Peter Nkedi-Kizza passed away on June 10, 2023, at the age of 80 in Gainesville, Fla. He was a successful professor of soil physics and hydrology with the UF/IFAS Department of Soil, Water, and Ecosystem Sciences (SWES) for 38 years. During that time, his global scholarship focused on Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, and his native Uganda. His research aimed to understand the disposition and fate of a variety of fertilizers, pesticides, and wastes applied to land areas. His goal was to improve agricultural production and environmental quality. Along the way, he taught and mentored many students and post-doctoral associates.
One was Dr. Davie Kadyampakeni, SWES associate professor, who had Kizza as a co-advisor of his doctoral dissertation committee. The two exchanged many emails before Kadyampakeni was accepted into the Ph.D. program. It was Kizza who picked him up at the airport when he first arrived in Gainesville late one night.
“Not many professors put their schedules aside to help new students settle down, let alone pick them up from the airport,” Kadyampakeni said. He recalled how influential his mentor was to him, both personally and professionally. “Dr. Kizza was such a unique and immensely humble person I encountered in the U.S. I aspire to emulate his perfect example on how I treat my students and workmates.”
Another SWES associate professor, Dr. Todd Osborne, recalled the impact Kizza had on him, as both a graduate student and a junior member of the department’s faculty.
“Peter provided great advice for navigating both academic and general workplace challenges,” Osborne said. “We spoke often about how important balance was for overall enjoyment of both the job and life outside the lab.”
Born in Ssese Islands, Uganda, May 8, 1943, Peter Nkedi-Kizza came to the United States from Uganda. He sought both higher education and political asylum. As a graduate student at Makerere University in the early 1970s, he was politically active, opposing the regime of Idi Amin. Kizza earned his doctorate with the leading soil physicist in the world at that time, Don Nielsen, at the University of California, Davis. He then came to the University of Florida as a post-doctoral associate in 1979. Kizza was hired as an assistant professor in 1986. He earned promotion in 1991 and 1997. He retired as a professor in 2019.
“Equally important as his contributions to soil physics were his strong support and sage advice to students, and his great friendship to many of us, including me,” said Dr. Andrew Ogram, SWES professor. “Peter was particularly important to students from Africa. He served as a faculty advisor to the African Student Union for many years. He will be missed by all who had the great fortune of knowing him.”
Dr. Kizza is survived by his wife, Rosie Chikwana Kizza, and his children, Bernadette Munkfors, Peter Frances Gyagenda Kizza, Jennifer Frances Namuli Kizza-Brown, and Vanessa Kizza-George. He also leaves behind his sister, Jane Nakamaya, and his grandchildren, Sebastian Pettersson, Max Pettersson, and Lina Munkfors, and great-grandchild, Leah Munkfors.