CVCD Excellence Award 2018
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) Excellence Awards Ceremony 2018 was held at the President’s House, Colombo on 19th of March 2019. Senior Professor Premakumara de Silva – Dean, Faculty of Arts was awarded for the most outstanding senior researcher in the field of social sciences, humanities and aesthetics. Senior Professor Pujitha Wickramasinghe – Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine was awarded for the most outstanding senior researcher in the field of health sciences including medicine, dental Science, veterinary science and other allied sciences. Dr Sameera R Samarakoon– Lecturer Institute of Biochemistry Molecular Biology and Biotechnology was awarded for the most outstanding young researcher in the field of Biological Science/Agriculture/Allied Science and Dr Ranil Jayawardena – Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine was awarded for the most outstanding young researcher in the field of health sciences including Medicine, Dental Science, Veterinary Science and other Allied Sciences.
Senior Professor Premakumara de Silva – Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo was awarded the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) Research Excellence Award – 2018, for the Most Outstanding Senior researcher in the field of Social Sciences, Humanities and Aesthetic. Professor Premakumara de Silva is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo. He is a Senior Professor in Sociology and Anthropology attached to the Department of Sociology of the University of Colombo. Born in Panadura, he obtained his primary at Sirisivalee Maha Vidyalaya and secondary education at Sri Sumangala College, Panadura and achieving the school’s best GCE A/L results in the arts stream in 1982.
He then entered the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, in 1983 and graduated with an honors Degree in Sociology, (Second Class -Upper Division). After completing an MA degree in Sociology at the University of Colombo in the year 2000, Professor De Silva continued quenching his thirst for knowledge by successfully completing an MSc and a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. He has been consistently involved in teaching and assessment of undergraduates and postgraduates in Sociology in Sri Lanka, UK and Australia. He was awarded an Honorary Research Professorship in Deakin University, Australia in recognition of his contribution to the field of Sociology and Anthropology.
He joined the Department of Sociology of the University of Colombo as a Probationary Lecturer in 1993 and climbed through the ranks consistently to become a Senior Professor in 2017. As a member of the academic staff in the university, he has been an active contributor to numerous departmental committees as well as faculty-wide and university-wide committees. He is the founder of the Multi-Cultural Center of the University and he initiated the Newton Gunasinghe Memorial Lecture Series and Dean’s Lecture Series in the Faculty of Arts.
Professor De Silva has held many administrative positions in the University ranging from the Head of the Department all the way to the Deputy Vice Chancellor. As a Sociologist, he always provided his services in improving conditions for students as well as staff members of the university by volunteering for positions such as Senior Student Counselor, Director/Career Guidance Center, Sub-Warden Student Hostel, President-Teachers Association of the Faculty of Arts…etc. He was the president of Sociological Association of Sri Lanka (SASL) 2007-2009, and the Honorary Council member of Social Scientist Association of Sri Lanka (SSA).
Professor De Silva’s research interests include political use of religion and ritual, pilgrimage, nationalism, local democracy, youth culture, Indigenous study, grass-root development, Social Issues, Social Welfare and globalization. He has published several books in English and local languages, including number of book chapters and over forty articles on his credit. His most recent work (2017) is a co-authored book chapter with Rohan Bastin of the Deakin University, ‘Military Tourism as a State-effect in the Sri Lankan civil war’ In Military Pilgrimage and Battlefield Tourism (eds.) John Eade and Mario Katic and in 2018 book chapter on ‘Colonial governmentality’: Legal and Administrative Technologies of the Governance of Sri Pāda Temple in Sri Lanka” In Thomas Borchert (ed.) Theravada Buddhism in Colonial Contexts London: Routledge.
Professor De Silva has won several prestigious international fellowships including British Academy, American Academy of Religion, Sir Radcliffe-Brown and Sir Raymond Firth Fellowship of Royal Anthropological Institute in UK, Award of Commonwealth Countries of University of Edinburgh (Sir Ernest Cassel Award), Overseas Research Student (ORS) award by Committee of UK Vice-chancellors and Wenner – Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research in New York, and several prestigious international research grants including Australian Research Council (ARC) and Economic and Social Research Council of United Kingdom (ESRC). In 2016, he won the Vice Chancellor’s award for the best researcher of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo and in 2016 and the Senate award for research excellence in 2017. He also won the 2018- State Literary Award for the best academic book translated.
Professor De Silva continues to engage in high quality research, with several key projects underway at present too, some of which are in collaboration with the Deakin University in Australia. Considering his significant contribution to the field of Sociology and Social Anthropology, the presentation of the CVCD Excellence Award is indeed a tribute to this eminent scholar.
Professor V Pujitha Wickramasinghe – Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine was awarded the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) Research Excellence Award – 2018, for the Most Outstanding Senior Researcher in the field of Health Sciences including Medicine, Dental Science, Veterinary Science and other Allied Sciences. Professor V Pujitha Wickramasinghe is a University Academic, Researcher, Clinician and Expert Advisor to ministries of Health and Education of Government of Sri Lanka. He received his primary and secondary education from D.S. Senanayake Vidyalaya, Colombo. Prof Wickramasinghe graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo in 1996 with second class upper division honours at the final MBBS examination, obtaining distinctions in physiology and biochemistry. He completed his MD(Paediatrics) in 2002, and Board Certified as a Specialist in General Paediatrics by the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo in 2004 and in 2010 obtained the PhD from University of Colombo. He received training in Clinical Nutrition at University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia (2003/04) and Management of Post-Liver Transplant in Children from Ruinitidine, Bergamo, Italy (2010/11).
He joined the Department of Paediatrics, University of Colombo in 1998 as a lecturer, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2004. He was elevated to Professor by merit in Paediatrics in 2009 and promoted to Senior Professor in 2017. Prof Wickramasinghe has been an active member of numerous academic committees in the university and has held administrative posts such as Head of Audio Visual Unit (2007-2016) and Head of the Department of Paediatrics (2015-17). Professor Wickramasinghe has been consistently involved in teaching and assessment of undergraduates of all national universities and postgraduate trainees in Paediatrics, Chemical Pathology, Community Medicine, Human Nutrition and Clinical Nutrition of the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo.
Prof. Wickramasinghe has over 68 publications in refereed national and international journals, 150 abstract presentations, 7 books and 22 book chapters covering childhood nutrition, growth and body composition. Extensively contributed to technical manuals of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka. Furthermore he has served in expert panels of technical groups of the World Health Organization and actively contributed in policy generation and development of technical manuals. Prof Wickramasinghe served as the Chairperson of the Editorial Board for development of Health and Physical Education School Text Books (2014-2018) for Grade 6 through 11(both Sinhala and English) and he is a Member of the Editorial Board of the Health Science text book for ‘Piriven’ education for Grade 3 through 5, of Ministry of Education. He is in several editorial boards of local and international journals. He has contributed extensively for capacity building of peers though delivering more than 90 CME lectures and also published extensively to the benefit of the public in both print and electronic media.
Professor Wickramasinghe has conducted many research including Clinical trials and is one of the principal investigators of the Dengue vaccine trial jointly conducted by Takeda Japan and Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka. His research has contributed in highlighting issues such as childhood obesity, congenital heart disease, iron deficiency in infancy and contributed to change in policy and practice in the county. He has supervised post graduate research students in MD, MPhil and PhD, in addition to undergraduates. He is a recipient of research grants amounting to more than 80 million Sri Lankan rupees from local and international organizations including National Science Foundation, National Research Council, International Atomic Energy Agency. He has collaborations with local universities as well as University College London UK and Wollongong University, Australia.
He has received 21 awards for excellence in research including University of Colombo award for Excellence in Research-2006 and Presidential Awards for Research 2008, 2013 & 2014, and from local academic colleges in addition to numerous travel grants from local and international bodies. He has Delivered 7 National Orations awarded by academic colleges and universities. He has delivered the keynote address at the, National Nutrition Month -2017 and National Breast Feeding Week – 2018. Apart from the research activities, he has contributed his expertise to the World Health Organization HQ and SEARO, Ministry of Health and Nutrition, Ministry of Education, Post Graduate Institute of Medicine and National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA).
Research interests are in the fields of childhood body composition, obesity and metabolic syndrome, maternal & child nutrition, effects of early nutrition on later diseases, prevention of Non Communicable Disease and Communicable diseases with special focus on Dengue infection. Considering his contribution to the field of health sciences, the presentation of the CVCD Excellence Award (Senior) in the field of Medicine is indeed a tribute to this eminent researcher.
Dr Sameera R Samarakoon– Lecturer Institute of Biochemistry Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Colombo was awarded the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) Research Excellence Award – 2018, for the Most Outstanding young researcher in the field of Biological Science/Agriculture/Allied Science.
Sameera R Samarakoon is currently working as a Lecturer in the Institute of Biochemistry Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IBMBB), University of Colombo. He is also working as the Business Development Officer at the same Institute in an honorary capacity from 2013. Dr. Samarakoon obtained his school education at Kohombadeniya primary school, Dorawaka Mahavidyalaya and Dudley Senanayake Central College, Tholangamauwa. He completed his first degree from the University of Kelaniya in Biological Sciences in 2007. Then he completed his master degree from the IBMBB, University of Colombo in Molecular Life Sciences in 2008. Then he obtained a post graduate diploma in Toxicology form the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo in 2009. Dr. Samarakoon completed his PhD in the field of Molecular Biology and Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Colombo in 2014, and completed a short postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Pittsburg, USA in 2014.
Dr. Samarakoon started his research career in 2007 in the field of Molecular Biology. He began his research activities with cloning, sequencing and characterization of filarial parasite’s specific genes. Then he extended his research interest towards a new field during his PhD studies. He has conducted a range of research activities in anti-cancer drug screening and development in Sri Lanka from 2009. Dr. Samarakoon’s currently focuses on screening and development of anti-cancer natural therapies which can target cancer stem cells. In 2013, he established cancer stem cell research in Sri Lanka for the first time. He has obtained several national and international grants for his research, including NRC competitive research grant and IFS-Sweden competitive grant. Dr. Samarakoon has supervised about 17 MSc students and one PhD student so far. Currently he is supervising seven PhD and two MPhil students in the field of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Biology.
Dr. Samarakoon was awarded several national and international awards for his research including, the Presidential Awards for scientific publication in 2014 and 2016, NRC merit awards in 2015, Hiran Tillelerathne Special Awards for Outstanding Post Graduate Research in the field of Medicine in 2014, Award for the beast postgraduate (PhD) research in Sri Lanka organized by the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of Science (SLAAS) in 2014 and the Vice Chancellors awards for research excellence in 2017. Dr. Samarakoon is currently serving as a member of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Subcommittee on Stem Cell Research. He was a member of the committee for popularization of science under the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of Science in 2014. He is also a steering committee member of the Young Scientist Forum (YSF), National Science and Technology Commission, Sri Lanka in 2018 and 2019. Dr. Samarakoon is a life member of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS), member of the Institute of Biology, Sri Lanka (IOB Sri Lanka) and licentiate member of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon.
Dr. Samarakoon has authored numerous international peer reviewed publications (about 40 publications) and has authored or co-authored numerous presentations (86 abstracts) at national and international conferences. He served as a reviewer for many international journals. He is involved in popularizing science and research in Sri Lanka. He is also involved as a science writer for the “Vidusara” newspaper and has participated several television and radio programs on popularizing science in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Ranil Jayawardena – Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine was awarded the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) Research Excellence Award – 2018, for the Most Outstanding Young Researcher in the field of Health Sciences including Medicine, Dental Science, Veterinary Science and other Allied Sciences. Dr. Ranil Jayawardena is a medical researcher, university academic, inventor and consultant clinical nutritionist. He is a senior lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and a visiting fellow to the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. He is also a leading nutrition practitioner in Sri Lanka with over a decade of experience as a specialist who treats patients with obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Following his graduation from the University of Colombo in 2005, he joined the same university as a research coordinator. After completing his MSc in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, UK, he started his career as a full time research associate at the Diabetes Research Unit, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and contributed to the national level landmark epidemiological study the “Sri Lanka Diabetes and Cardiovascular Study”. Owing to his original research work on obesity among Sri Lankan adults, he was awarded a very competitive PhD scholarship from the Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
Dr. Jayawardena has a keen interest in carrying out research on non-communicable diseases, epidemiological aspect of dietary habits, clinical trials on herbal and dietary supplements and body composition. He has a vast array of research experience which includes multi-national clinical trials, national wide epidemiological surveys, case-control studies, systemic reviews and meta-analysis, and qualitative research projects. He has over 70 full paper publications in international peer-reviewed journals and numerous abstracts. He has authored four books and a book chapter. He has a H-index of 21 and over 1650 citations.
He is currently the only Sri Lankan to publish in the prestigious journal of Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. Dr. Jayawardena is a member of editorial boards of several journals including BMC Obesity. He has received research grants from European Union, Medical Research Council-UK, New South Wales Government Australia, National Science Foundation and University of Colombo. Dr. Jayawardena is a well-reputed speaker and has delivered more than 40 invited lectures in many local and international scientific conferences including the Poland Nutrition conference and several Asian Nutrition conferences.
His research is not confined to mere publications but also extend pathways for development of policies and application in the real world. The food frequency questionnaire for Sri Lankan adults which he developed is the only one currently available and used for many national level research projects. He has amply demonstrated his vast contribution to the field of nutrition by introducing the concept, ‘My Rice Plate’ which has been published as a book in both English and Sinhala languages for health professionals and the general public. The concept of the plate model has now been incorporated into national obesity guidelines. Dr. Jayawardena has also contributed in two novel clinical trials with zinc and Ceylon cinnamon as therapeutic measures to treat pre-diabetes and diabetes respectively. Moreover based on his previous findings he is about to publish a “Food Atlas” which can be used as a reference book to assess the dietary intake among Sri Lankans. He has applied for patents for four inventions so far.
According to the UGC research performance scheme, Dr. Jayawardena is one of the youngest to reach the “Tier 4 star” (highest rank) in the Sri Lankan university system. In recognition of his outstanding achievements as a researcher and a scientist, he has received many national, university and professional level awards. He has received five presidential awards and two NRC Merit awards consecutively since 2010. The Senate Awards for Research Excellence (Early Career) 2016 and 2017 were also awarded to him recently. He has also won more than ten scientific awards in various academic sessions. He was named as the “Top Outstanding Young Person in Medical Research” in 2014 by the Junior Chamber International. Very recently he won the “2018 TWAS Prize – Sri Lanka” for Young Scientist by the World Academy of Science, Trieste, Italy. With this “CVCD Excellence Award for the most outstanding young researcher”, he is the only academic in the University of Colombo to win all three young national level awards.