Amazing Students Profiles

Ryan Brush

Ryan Brush

As a student ambassador for the College of Engineering, Ryan Brush, a junior in biological engineering, says he’s honored to represent the college that has given him so much direction in life.


Emerson, Ga.

High School:

The Walker School

Degree objective:

B.S. in biological engineering

Expected graduation:

Spring 2015

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

My life as an undergraduate here at UGA has been filled with both opportunities to further my learning and leadership skills and mentors to coach me along the way.

My first and possibly most memorable achievement was being elected both Recruitment chair and Health and Safety Services chair of the UGA Red Cross Club. At the time, the club was in its infancy and had fewer than 50 active members. With the help of Jeff Taylor and the collective effort of all of the club members, we increased membership to 150 active members over that summer and raised more than $30,000 during the following semester. All of the proceeds went toward the East Georgia Red Cross Disaster Relief funds. The Health and Safety Services Committee initiated educational outreach programs, such as Scrubby Bear and Whales Tales, in local elementary schools. We also coordinated volunteers trained in CPR to be in attendance at UGA football games and various fundraisers on campus and in the Clarke County area.

Since my freshman year, I have mentored at Barrow Elementary and this experience has been more rewarding than words can describe. One of the most inspiring moments I have spent with Travion, the fifth-grader I mentor, was in his creative writing class. Like most kids his age, Travion wanted to go play video games on a computer instead of writing a story for his class. At first, he resisted answering the questions I asked in an attempt to prod his creativity. Then, slowly, he began to come up with ideas and, before we knew it, he had written an entire page about a forest with a chocolate river running through it that was protected by flying monkeys. When his teacher said that it was time for recess, Travion was actually upset that he had to stop writing. It was exciting to see him become engaged in his class and I could not have been more proud of him.

This past spring, I began research in professor William Kisaalita’s lab working on a refrigeration unit that does not require electricity. Growing up in Uganda, Dr. Kisaalita is passionate about using his knowledge and resources to create innovative and sustainable designs for use in Africa. The refrigerator is designed for cattle farmers in developing countries who often must throw out 40 percent of the precious milk they make their living from due to spoilage. Throughout my research, I have often been humbled and challenged to think outside the box for solutions to obstacles as they arise. Some of these solutions are better than others, but Dr. Kisaalita has always patiently listened and methodically assessed my ideas. He has provided an invaluable medium for me to develop my problem-solving skills and I cannot imagine being paired with a better mentor.

Also this past spring, I was selected as an ambassador of the College of Engineering. This opportunity has allowed me to develop personal relationships with the faculty and also enables me to give back to the college that has helped to clarify my career and life goals. I owe the college immensely. As the college is still new, I am honored to be a part of, however small that may be, its development and I embrace every chance I have to give tours of the college to prospective students and represent the college at campus events.

Current Employment:

This past summer, I interned in a water treatment lab conducting research on phosphorus removal from wastewater using various chemical and biochemical processes.

Family Ties to UGA:

My sister and my mother attended UGA, along with three of my cousins and both of my aunts and uncles. I am proud to carry on the family tradition here at UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because…

My senior year in high school I had signed a scholarship to play baseball at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. However, in the spring I suffered an injury that would have required me to redshirt my freshman year. After that setback, I began to think of my college decision in terms of where I wanted to go regardless of baseball; what school fit my academic and social desires. As soon as I shifted my criteria, it was obvious that I wanted to go to UGA. UGA offers everything I could want in a college. From its well-rounded liberal arts education to the strong science programs, I cannot imagine a better fit for my educational desires.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

It is hard to top fall football games, but I also enjoy playing basketball at Ramsey. I regularly attend CRU on Tuesday nights at Tate and try to hear any guest speaker scheduled at the engineering building. I think it’s invaluable to listen to all of the exciting things going on in the field.

When I have free time, I like…

Between research and the work-laden engineering curriculum, I stay busy. However, when I have free time, I enjoy hiking, fly-fishing, listening to music and playing any sport. I also love to read both fiction and nonfiction; regardless of how busy I am, I try to make time each day to read something I enjoy.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

Right before school started this fall, I drove across the U.S. without any plans other than to be back before Aug. 12. I drove with a friend of mine from Seattle to San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Denver to St. Louis and finally to Athens. I had never been outside of the Southeast and this trip opened my eyes to the beauty and vast diversity of America.

My favorite place to study is…

If I’m not in the Driftmier study lounge, I prefer to just go to a desk at Miller Learning Center. It seems I always run into a friend when I am there and, while sometimes it distracts me, it really is nice to decompress from studying by talking to a friend for a little while.

My favorite professor is…

In the College of Engineering, my favorite professor is William Kisaalita. While I could name many other professors whom I respect immensely and look up to, Dr. Kisaalita has had the greatest impact on me. He has helped me all along the way in the research I have conducted under him and he is a perfect example of placing values ahead of personal interests. An example of this was in October of this year. Dr. Kisaalita received an award for his international scholastic achievements and instead of attending the ceremony, he chose to attend a Youth to Business conference where he gave his time educating the young adults on business and leadership. I am proud to be conducting research under him and to have him as a mentor.

Outside of the college, Roy Segars currently teaches my calculus course and he has continued to pique my interest in a subject that I have regarded as necessary, but mundane. He always comes to class prepared, not only with lecture notes, but also with a story or joke that correlates to the lesson. He also was previously a chemical engineer and has been eager to advise me in the field of chemical engineering as well as helping me evaluate options for internships I will apply for this summer.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

I would spend it with F. Scott Fitzgerald. My grandmother was a huge fan of his and had every novel, biography and review ever written on him. Because of this, I’ve been able to read many of his works and imagine he must have been the most interesting man in what I regard as the most interesting time period in American history. On top of this, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to know how he intended “The Last Tycoon” to end?

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

Tackle the water issues around the world. From the industrial wastes that are constantly introduced into the water supply here in the U.S. to the waterborne pathogens that frequent developed countries, water is both our essential element and a source of our demise. If I could not fail, I would create solutions to these problems and ensure that we all are guaranteed a right to clean water.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

This is something that I have had on my heart for a while now, but I would start and, since money would not be a concern, fund a program that provides impoverished children here in the Athens-Clarke area with easy to prepare food for the weekends. From my experience as a mentor, I have seen that for some of these kids the only nutritious meal they get is during lunch at school. I cannot help but to wonder how little they eat on the weekends and am disturbed by the thought of them going to bed hungry on the weekends.

After graduation, I plan to…

As of now, I plan on pursuing a master’s in chemical or biochemical engineering, but I would like to also see what jobs are available after my undergraduate education. Ideally, I want to work with a company that focuses on improving our means of sustainable development or a company that uses bioengineering in the medical field. Both of these areas excite my passion for using nature and its ingenious engineering to benefit us as opposed to synthetically creating our own methods of production.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

In October, Ford CEO Alan Mulally came in to speak to the UGA student body at the USA Today CEO Forum. He was first interviewed by a USA Today reporter, but then fielded questions only from students about anything we desired to ask. Having a person of such prestige only accept questions from students really moved me. I realized that he saw the vast potential of our generation and student body here at UGA and it made me proud that our university provided this uniquely incredible opportunity for us to receive advice from a widely recognized leader in business. I had volunteered to collect ticket stubs for the event and received a pass to attend a “meet and greet” session held afterward. As I was entering the room where the “meet and greet” was set to take place, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a group of people approaching. Right before I went ahead of them and entered, I glanced over and realized that this “group of people” was Mr. Mulally and his group of Ford representatives. Alan immediately struck up a conversation with me and, as a fellow engineer, he took great interest in the engineering education and where I wanted to go with my degree. By sheer luck, I was able to shake hands with, speak with and learn from a person who puts into practice the sustainable designs to which I hope to one day contribute.