Meet Sri Lankan Researcher — Charini Vimansha Nanayakkara
What are you currently working on or worked on before?
What encouraged you to pursue your research topic?
Record linkage is the process of linking records that refer to the same entity (which can be a person, product, etc.). Its applicability in a vast range of domains such as in the medical field, and for fraud investigation encouraged me to pursue my PhD research in this area.
What is the name of your current institute?
The Australian National University
Where do you find your best inspiration for your work?
I find my supervisor a huge inspiration. His commitment to work and his integrity is admirable, whereas he has built an outstanding profile for himself over the year. Having 20 years of experience has not made him complacent and he continues to strive towards contributing to society just as he did 20 years ago. My supervisor ensures that we are knowledgeable of the potential of our research area, and its value in helping society in numerous ways. Having a great supervisor, and knowing the value of my work helps me be inspired throughout my research life.
Can you share with us some of your publications?
Yes, you can find them on my Google-Scholar.
What’s one of your biggest personal achievements so far?
Living a life with no regrets up until this point and gradually evolving to become a person who will only do good to society. On a more worldly level, I consider entering a state University and securing a 1st class degree a worthy achievement (which paved me the path to do a PhD at a renowned foreign University).
What lessons would you share with a budding researcher?
Maintain a good relationship with your supervisor and work consistently (as much as possible) when doing a PhD. Don’t be disheartened with rejections of your hard work (in the form of conference papers, journals) because that’s a reality researchers need to learn to live with. Maybe try to collaborate with interdisciplinary research groups since that might later help you find interesting job opportunities.
What motivated you to be a researcher?
Being a researcher gives you the opportunity to explore a wide range of possibilities. It gives me the ability to choose between pursuing an academic career or a career in the industry (or both!). This motivated me to become a PhD research student.
If there is a chance, will you help build research in Sri Lanka?
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?
Emphasize on the practical aspect of what is taught at school and University! This, I feel, is something we lack so much in our education system. When we are taught mathematical concepts, we are never told how and in which fields it’s applicable in the industry/research world. Many of the pure maths we learn for A/Ls are the foundational concepts of Machine Learning. If students know how what they learn applies to the real world, they would probably make a better effort to learn that. Another very important aspect is encouraging children to ask questions from a very young age. Most foreign students portray this ability significantly while it’s lacking in most Sri Lankan students. While it’s extremely valuable to teach students to respect teachers from a young age, it shouldn’t go to the extremity of hindering their ability to ask questions when they want to clarify something. Furthermore, it’s very important to assess the capacity of teachers to deal with children because sometimes it’s the few teachers who lack understanding of a child’s mind that destroy the personality of a child (including their curiosity about the world). While there are many teachers in Sri Lanka who provide exceptional service, I mention this since many developed countries have programs to educate teachers on how to deal with children, and people seen as mentally unfit for that job are never employed as teachers. Such programs are almost non-existent in Sri Lanka, which is immensely detrimental to the progress of some children in certain situations. However, the role of a teacher must be held in high esteem if so much is to be expected from them (such as better benefits, income for teachers). While there are many aspects which can be improved in our education system, free education is undoubtedly one of the noblest services offered in Sri Lanka and needs to be protected for generations to come.