Meet Sri Lankan Researcher — Lasith S. Kariyawasam
What are you currently working on or worked on before?
My dissertation focuses on “Temporary Systems Driven by Chemical Fuels.” My first article, which was published in JACS, shows the carbodiimide-fueled in situ formation of supramolecular hosts using simple diacids as a proof-of-concept. My second article, published in JOC, is a detailed structure-property of carbodiimide-fueled anhydride formation that underscores the utility of robust kinetic models as predictive tools.
What encouraged you to pursue your research topic?
I have had the opportunity to INITIATE a novel project in our research group investigating fuel-driven dissipative assembly. I felt like it was a cool project when my Ph.D. advisor Prof. Scott Hartley was describing the research project to me when I was commencing my Ph.D. research in late 2015.
What is the name of your current institute?
Miami University (The Hartley Group)
Where do you find your best inspiration for your work?
Inspiration comes from listening to motivational videos in both Sinhalese and English. Also, to keep my mental health up I listen to doctrine.
Can you share with us some of your publications?
What’s one of your biggest personal achievements so far?
First, I should say that many of my personal achievements are integrated with professional accomplishments. There are indeed a couple of them I should mention. One is that I am now close to earning my Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry (I anticipate defending my dissertation at the end of 2020). Additionally, I have worked to develop my scientific communication skills to both general and scientific audiences through participating as a finalist and winning the People’s Choice Award in the 3-Minute Thesis competition at my university (Link).
What lessons would you share with a budding researcher?
We have to understand that ups and downs are inevitable during our research. Failures are blessings if we take them optimistically because they teach us the ways our research will not work. The failures force us to change our thinking. Indeed, failures are an inseparable part of the research process. When things do not work to our anticipation, we should try to get breaks but should NEVER quit. In my perspective, resilience is the key to be fruitful as a researcher.
What motivated you to be a researcher?
My final year undergraduate research experience as a Chemistry Honors student at the University of Colombo with the supervision of Professors Ramanee Wijesekera & Nirmalie Pallewatta.
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?
I think the Sri Lankan education system is not second to anyone in the world in terms of the theoretical knowledge they provide to the students, but we clearly lack research facilities/resources compared to other nations. We need to boost the money allocated for research in Sri Lanka.
Also, the Sri Lankan students are restricted to certain fields, for example, science stream students cannot take non-science (E.g., languages, music, etc.) courses at the university. And this is not the case in the United States, where the undergraduate students have the freedom and the opportunity to take so many unrelated courses (as an example, you can do biology, music, Spanish, and statistics) that we can never imagine of taking under the current educational system in Sri Lanka.