Dr. Kakela is recognized internationally as an expert on the iron ore industry. He has published widely on it, including articles in Science, Land Economics, The Journal of Metals, The Professional Geographer, Engineering & Mining Journal, Skillings' Mining Review, Michigan History Magazine and numerous major reports through World Steel Dynamics, one of the world’s leading steel research organizations.
In total, Kakela has published over 120 professional publications on a variety of energy, mining and other natural resources topics. He enthusiastically teaches the “Introduction to Environmental Studies” course. He has been awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for energy research in 1976-77, a three-year, part-time Kellogg National Fellowship for leadership development from 1981 to 1984, and a six-month research fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 1998 to analyze productivity changes in the North American iron ore industry. In 2002, he was awarded the MSU President’s “Community Service Award” for helping to strengthen Michigan’s automobile safety belt law.
Dr. Kakela is a full professor. He was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on September 15, 1940. As a collegian at MSU, Kakela earned three varsity letters as a starting defensive tackle on Duffy Daugherty's 1959 through 1961 football teams. He was awarded the Ross Trophy as outstanding scholar-athlete as a senior and elected Senior Class Vice President at MSU.