Meet Sri Lankan Researcher — Sitara Weerakoon
What are you currently working on or worked on before?
I’m currently working on prenatal substance use (including opiates, heroin, and marijuana) in pregnant mothers and physical growth during the pediatric years; opiate and marijuana use in adolescents
What encouraged you to pursue your research topic?
The ongoing opioid crisis and legalization of marijuana call for more research to be done on the effects of these drugs on the public health of our population.
What is the name of your current University?
I am currently at the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health.
Where do you find your best inspiration for your work?
I find my inspiration from current events around me. Especially reading stories about families affected by the opioid crisis inspires me to research the health effects of the largest health crisis in the USA. Additionally, with the legalization of marijuana slowly occurring across the country comes more and more research into the safety of the drug.
What lessons would you share with a budding researcher?
The passion for your research interest is so important and setbacks in research can become discouraging so having that passion can keep you going.
What motivated you to be a researcher?
Actually, being a part of a larger conversation about the pharmaceutical industry motivates me to do my research. What I am doing is bigger than me and that keeps me motivated.
If there is a chance, will you help build research in Sri Lanka?
I am currently living in Texas, USA. I am contributing to STEM research by being a researcher in the field of epidemiology.
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?
In my opinion, a focus on a more well-rounded education including the arts and sciences helps create more creative and competitive employees and scientists.