Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence 2022

Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence 2022

The Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence acknowledge academic staff members who make contributions to the University community through their outstanding research works. This year, seven awards were awarded to the following recipients during the Postgraduate Convocation 2022 on the 12th of January 2024 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall.

Professor Priyanga Dunusinghe

Faculty of Arts

Professor Priyanga Dunusinghe received his BA degree with first-class honours in Economics from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2001. He obtained his PhD degree in 2012 from Kyushu University, Japan, in Economic Systems. Currently, Professor Dunusinghe is attached to the Department of Economics and serves as the Head of the Department of Information Technology. His research interests include Economic growth & Development, Labour Markets, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, and Social Protection.
For the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence 2022, he has demonstrated an impressive scholarly output, contributing to various domains. His accomplishments include five journal publications in international refereed journals such as the Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics, the Journal of Economics and Development Studies, and the Asian Journal of Economics and Finance. Additionally, he has made significant contributions to national refereed journals, including the Sri Lanka Economic Journal, the Sri Lanka Journal of Economic Research, and the University of Colombo Review, with five published articles. Furthermore, he has authored two book chapters, one for the University of Colombo and another for an international publisher (Springer). In addition to his publications, he has actively engaged in preparing commission reports, notably the National Social Protection Assessment & Strategy, the Colombo Port City Economic Assessment, and the need-based minimum wage setting. He has also served as an editorial board member and as a reviewer for a few peer-reviewed national and international journals.

Professor Priyanga Ranasinghe

Faculty of Medicine

Priyanga Ranasinghe (MBBS, MD [Medicine], PhD, PGCert Med Edu, Dip ICT) is attached to the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, since 2012, and works in the capacity of a Professor in Pharmacology. Having obtained an MD (Clinical Medicine) from the PGIM, University of Colombo in 2018, he is the first board-certified specialist in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. In addition to having a doctoral degree in the field of Clinical Medicine, he also completed a doctoral degree in research (PhD) in 2018.
Prof. Ranasinghe graduated with MBBS (Second Upper) degree from the University of Colombo in 2008, with 2 distinctions and a gold medal. Subsequently, he developed a keen interest in engaging in research to combat the non-communicable disease epidemic in Sri Lanka, which has become an important public health issue in the country. The projects conducted include clinical trials, pre-clinical trials, nationwide surveys, national-level audits, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, qualitative research projects and in-vitro studies, some of which are pioneer research projects in Sri Lanka. His primary research interests are in the fields of hypertension, obesity and diabetes, and conducting pharmacological and ethnopharmacological interventional studies aimed at their treatment and prevention. In addition, he is currently involved in numerous research projects in the field of Pharmacogenomics. His PhD involved the development of Ceylon cinnamon as a novel therapeutic agent for diabetes mellitus. He has conducted the largest clinical trial to date evaluating the effects of Zinc supplementation in pre-diabetes.
He has more than 130 research publications in indexed peer-reviewed international journals and 2 patents. His current H-index is 49 and he has over 18,500 citations. Among current full-time academics, he is currently the top most cited researcher in all disciplines from the University of Colombo. In recognition of these outstanding achievements, he has received over 30 different research awards, including being one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) lifetime Research Excellence Award for Most Outstanding Young Researcher in Health Sciences in 2014. Furthermore, he has received consecutive presidential research awards since 2011 and the University of Colombo Senate Award for Research Excellence since 2020. Prof. Ranasinghe has been ranked among the World’s Top 2% Scientists in the 2021 and 2022 lists of outstanding researchers prepared by Elsevier and Stanford University, USA. He is a Young Affiliate of The World Academy of Sciences for the Central and South Asia Region from 2019-2023, being only the second scholar from Sri Lanka to receive this prestigious affiliateship in the field of Medical & Health Sciences and the fourth overall in all disciplines from Sri Lanka.

Professor Anushka S Elvitigala

Faculty of Nursing

Professor Anushka Elvitigala received his primary and secondary education from Sri Dharmaloka Central College, Kelaniya, and Ananda College Colombo, respectively & entered the University of Colombo in 2006. He pursued his BSc four-year degree by enrolling in the first direct intake program for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology which was coordinated by the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science in the University of Colombo. He obtained his M.Sc and PhD from Jeju National University in the Republic of Korea in 2013 and 2016, respectively, specializing in Molecular Genetics of marine animals.
He served in academic positions at the Departments of Zoology and Chemistry of the Universities of Sri Jayewardenepura and Colombo, respectively, before joining the faculty of Nursing University of Colombo in 2018 as a lecturer. Currently, he is serving as a professor and the head of the Department of Basic Sciences and Social Science for Nursing in the faculty.
Prof. Elvitigala has published more than 40 scientific articles in indexed journals and contributed to more than 50 scientific communications, a book, and a book chapter obtaining an H index of 14 with 548 citations. His research interest is mainly focused on Genomics, Transcriptomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics. He is a recipient of several awards for his research excellence, including the award for the best academic research from Jeju National University, South Korea in 2016, the President’s Award for research publications in 2017, and university senate awards in 2017 and 2019. He currently serves as a member of the editorial board of several international journals and the journal referee for several indexed journals, including Nature Scientific Review and ‘Genes and Genomics’.

Professor Chamari M Hettiarachchi

Faculty of Science

Chamari Madhu Hettiarachchi is a Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry affiliated with the Department of Chemistry at the Faculty of Science. She earned her BSc Honors in Botany from the University of Colombo in 1996 and completed her PhD in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry in 2003 at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), affiliated with Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Following her doctoral studies, she served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Gothenburg University from 2004 to 2006 and as a Visiting Scientist at the Department of Biological and Environmental Science at Gothenburg University, Sweden from 2011 – 2012. Since 2014, she has been serving as a visiting scientist at the Department of Pharmacognosy, Uppsala University, Sweden.
Professor Hettiarachchi has an impressive academic record, with approximately 60 international peer-reviewed journal publications, 170 presentations at national and international conferences, 3 book chapters, and one book to her credit. She holds both a local and an international patent. Her significant contributions to research have earned her numerous awards, including the Presidential Award for Scientific Research in 2008 and 2017, the NRC Merit Award in 2018, the NSF SUSRED Award in 2003 and 2020, University of Colombo Senate Award in 2019, University of Colombo Senate Commendation Award three times, Faculty of Science Research Excellence Award thrice, and Faculty of Science Award for Excellence in Academic Outreach on four times.
Professor Hettiarachchi has received several national and international grants. Two NSF research grants in 2014 and 2018, two University of Colombo research grants in 2012 and 2018, NRC research grants in 2019, Swedish Research Link Collaborative Grants in 2014 and 2018, and a Sweden SASNET planning Grant in 2006. She has supervised 10 PhD and four MPhil research projects, as well as more than 50 M.Sc. research endeavours.

Professor Jagathpriya Weerasena

Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IBMBB)

Professor Jagathpriya Weerasena is currently a professor in Molecular Biology at the Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IBMBB), University of Colombo. Jagathpriya Weeerasena graduated from the Faculty of Science University of Colombo in 1996 and obtained his PhD from the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo in the year 2002. Dr.Weerasena served as a Research Scientist in Genetic Center, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala Sweden and as a Research associate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine Colombo. He joined the IBMBB, University of Colombo as a Senior Lecturer in 2005. Dr. Weerasena is a recipient of several research collaborative grants from funding agencies/Institutions (NSF and NRC). In addition, he has research collaborations with many research institutions and private sector institutions in Sri Lanka and overseas. He has trained 16 PhDs, and 3 MPhils & supervised more than 30 MSc students, all of them are serving different Institutions in Sri Lanka and overseas. Professor Weerasena has received several awards for his research including the Presidential Research Award in 2004 and 2016, the National Research Council Merit Awards for research in 2011 and 2014, the National Science Foundation Technology Award in 2017, the Vice Chancellor’s Award in 2016 and the Senate Award in several occasions.
He has served as a coordinator for the MSc in Molecular Life Sciences program and as the secretary for the Research and Higher Degrees Committee of the IBMBB for several years. Now he is the Chairman of the Research and Higher Degrees Committee and the Chairman of the Board of Study, Molecular Life Sciences of IBMBB. He has served as a resource person for many national and international workshops on Molecular biology and Bioinformatics and a joint secretary to the council of the Institute of Biology Sri Lanka (IOBSL). He has served as a Section Editor for the Sri Lankan Journal of Biology for several years and as a Reviewer for many National and international journals and symposia. His current research areas include studying the Genetic diversity of crop plant species and the development of molecular markers. Investigation of Bioactivities of natural products, molecular characterization of microbes, development of molecular-based species identification methods, cloning, expression and characterization of recombinant proteins. He has published more than 100 publications in national and International peer-reviewed Journals.

Dr D A S Atukorale

University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC)

Dr Ajantha Atukorale received his B.Sc. degree with first-class honours in Computer Science from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1995. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in 2002 from the University of Queensland, Australia, in Neural Pattern Recognition. Currently, Dr. Atukorale is a Senior Lecturer and Director at the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC). His research interests include Neural Networks, Pattern Recognition, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Computer Networks, and Virtualization.
For the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence 2022, he has published three journal articles in internationally indexed journals. These include the Journal of Expert Systems with Applications by Elsevier Publisher, with a CiteScore of 12.2 and an Impact Factor of 8.665; the Journal of Information Sciences, also by Elsevier Publisher, with a CiteScore of 12.1 and an Impact Factor of 8.233; and the Journal of Information Processing & Management, also by Elsevier Publisher, with a CiteScore of 11 and an Impact Factor of 7.466. Additionally, he has one journal publication in a national non-indexed journal, the Sri Lankan Journal of Applied Sciences. Furthermore, he has presented three international conference publications, namely at the IEEE International Workshop on Big Data for Financial News and Data, the 32nd Workshop on Information Technology and Systems, and the International Conference on Advances in ICT for Emerging Regions.
Also, he held the position of Editor-in-Chief for the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL) Research Colloquium, an integral component of the National Information Technology Conference (NITC). Since the early 1980s, the NITC has been an annual event in Sri Lanka, and its 40th edition took place in 2022.

Professor Pavithra Kailasapathy

Faculty of Management and Finance

Dr Pavithra Kailasapathy is a Professor in Human Resources Management at the Faculty of Management and Finance. She has served in many administrative positions including as the Head of the Human Resources Management Department, Coordinator of the Master of Business Administration in HRM Programme, and MPhil/PhD programme, and Coordinator of the Postgraduate & Mid-career Development Unit in the Faculty and Chair of the Annual Research Symposium 2017 of the University.
Pavithra holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Colombo, a Master of Science in HRM from New School for Social Research, New York USA and a Master of Science in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA. She obtained her Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management Sri Lanka.
Pavithra is the Editor-in-Chief of the South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management published by Sage. She has published in leading international journals in the area of HRM and co-authored book chapters as well. She has previously been awarded for research excellence by the University of Colombo. This includes the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence in 2017, and the Senate Award for Research Excellence in 2016, 2020, 2021, and 2022. She is a reviewer for many local and international journals and conferences. She has also been facilitating research methods courses/workshops, supervising postgraduate research, and serving as a research examiner at different universities locally and internationally, at the postgraduate levels.