Sri Lanka Alumni Stories

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Ashani Abayasekara: Contributing through Development Economics

Ashani Abayasekara: Contributing through Development Economics Australia Awards alumna Ashani Abayasekara presented a paper on ‘School resources and educational outcomes’, at the Australasian Development Economics Workshop (ADEW), held at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, in June 2018. Sponsored by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), ADEW is an annual workshop that brings together development economists in Australia and internationally. The event provides a forum for rigorous research in the field of development economics, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region, and presenters are selected through a competitive process.

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Fostering Australian Connections

imageM. A. Munazir, an Assistant Director, Provincial Planning Secretariat at the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) is an #AustraliaAwards alumnus who undertook a Master of Development Studies at the University of Melbourne in 2014. Upon completion of his studies, he returned home and re-commenced work at the EPC where he continued to maintain links with his lecturer Dr. Bart Klem.

Dr. Bart Klem, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne who is reading for his PhD on Post War Development, chose Trincomalee for his research studies.

At the time, the EPC was involved in the resettlement and rehabilitation of people displaced due to the internal conflict in Sri Lanka.

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Tackling Sri Lanka’s Waste Problem

Image The Australia Awards can change your life, as Australia Awards scholarship recipient Randika Jayasinghe has found.

The PhD she earned from the University of Western Australia in 2015 in Engineering and Related Technologies has kick- started her career as the coordinator of a key development project funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop community-based recycling businesses in Sri Lanka.

“My research interest was on a serious environmental issue in Sri Lanka, the waste problem. I found Professor Caroline Baillie and her work on Waste for Life at the University of Western Australia, and after initial communications via email, Professor Baillie was eager to take me in as her student,” Randika says.

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Australian Alumnus Combating Climate Change in Sri Lanka

Image Lasantha Weerasinghe is an experienced Academic and Research Scientist with a doctorate in Eco-physiology. He has a strong background in research and has published articles on the potential impacts of climate change on tree dominated natural ecosystems and planation crops. Lasantha, who is an Australia Awards alumnus, completed his PhD in 2015 in the area of Eco-Physiology at the Australian National University in Canberra.

“I have gained extensive field experience related to leaf gas exchange by working in a series of tropical and temperate rainforest sites in Australia, which has been invaluable in my research work” says Lasantha.

A major focus of his research is assessing the impact of environmental gradients on plant physiological processes, particularly respiration. The many contacts and networks he has been able to build with fellow scientists has helped him conduct experiments to quantify the climate dependence respiration, and determine the impact of variations in respiration on rates of net carbon uptake in a range of contrasting ecosystems over wide spatial and temporal scales. Assessing the impacts of nutrient gradients on plant respiration is another key area of focus for Lasantha.

In recognition of the Lasantha’s contributions, he was awarded “Sri Lanka President’s Awards for the Highly Rated Scientific Publications” for the year 2013 and 2014, and the “Journal of Tree Physiology Award for the Best Graduate Student Research Paper” in 2014.

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Championing Sustainability in the Corporate Sector

ImageTo Australia Awards alumna, Nishadi Liyanage, integrating sustainable development practices within the corporate sector is more than a job. For Nishadi, sustainability is not just about protecting the environment.

“True sustainability focuses on achieving wins in all three segments of the triple bottom line – economy, environment and society,” she says.

In her role at a leading apparel manufacturer in the country, Nishadi’s work focuses on the implementation of sound sustainability management frameworks, which enables the organization to embed sustainable practices in all facets of business operations. Her role supports the organization to be a contributor to Sri Lanka’s sustainable development process, while at the same time enabling the organization to derive sustainable value creation and growth. Nishadi’s role, therefore, has a direct impact on furthering national goals in both the environment and society.

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