Meet Sri Lankan Researcher — Chandana Sameera Attygala Siriwardana

What are you currently working on or worked on before?

I am currently working on understanding the gaps in the Disaster Risk Communication Mechanisms and Multi-Hazard Early Warning Mechanisms in Sri Lanka at the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa to find out ways to develop strategies to overcome these gaps. Also, I have been working on developing an easy-to-use self-assessment web tool to understand the current issues in the construction industry.

My research publications are here.

What encouraged you to pursue your research topic?

It is always heartbreaking to witness the damages disasters make to human lives, properties, infrastructure, and the economy. After each and every major disaster, we, Sri Lankans tend to blame the government, politicians, and government agencies blame each other.

The blame game goes on and on without addressing the real issues. When analyzing the root causes of these damages, I have realized the importance of improving the Early Warning mechanisms to reach the communities in the last mile. This is what made me encouraged to explore the possibility of applying my expertise to find solutions for the issues related to them.

Where do you find your best inspiration for your work?

I am a product of the Sri Lankan free education system. Therefore, I do have an obligation to serve my fellow countrymen. As a researcher, this provides me the inspiration to do something back to the country.

I consider getting the opportunity to teach and work with the best engineering undergraduates in Sri Lanka as one of my biggest personal achievements so far. It is challenging, yet inspiring. With them, every day is a new day!

What lessons would you share with a budding researcher?

I would like to share four lessons that they need to inculcate as a researcher; Passion, Patience, Integrity, and Out of the box thinking.

  1. Passion — As a researcher, you need to be really passionate about your research area. At the end of the day, you are not selecting a job but a lifestyle. Therefore, you should love what you do.

What motivated you to be a researcher?

Since childhood I had a curious mind; always wanted to explore and seek answers to things that I do not understand. Therefore, science was my favorite subject, and wanted to become a scientist. However, when growing up I realized that in the Sri Lankan education system you can not just be a scientist. Therefore, I decided to become an engineer first and then pursue higher studies later.

Witnessing the damage made by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 was the turning point of my life. Back then, as a first-year engineering undergraduate, Me and my friends wanted to do something for the people in need. We went to Hambantota and distributed goods to the affected people, helped the army to get the dead bodies out from the Hambantota lagoon, helped the administrative officers to manage the work. This first-hand experience in Disaster Management and Disaster Response made me really motivated to pursue further in this area.

According to your opinion, what are the changes that the Sri Lankan education system needs to do, in order to meet the requirement of the international industry and academia?

The main issue that I see in the Sri Lankan education system is that the achievements are purely based on competitive exams. Therefore, it does not encourage creativity and free-thinking. Therefore, in order to score high in the exams, Sri Lankan parents want their kids to be competitive, follow the rest, and practice the same thing over and over again. Therefore, in my opinion, the first thing I am proposing is to do educational reforms to encourage students to have more free time and out there be with nature when they are very young. Countries like Finland are using this method to get much fruitful results.

Another issue is that the Sri Lankan education system having a delay in update its curriculum to match with the world trends and latest technologies. Therefore, Sri Lankan students who graduate from local universities have a gap in their knowledge when compared to other foreign universities. Hence, Sri Lankan educators always need to keep them updated and educated.



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We empower students, education institutes and education as a whole in Sri Lanka.