Graduate Students

Ms. MP Theja Virajini
B.Sc. (Hons) Plant Biotechnology
University of Sri Jayawardenepura

I graduated from the Department of Botany, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura as a plant biotechnologist. My undergraduate research was centred on plant pathology and basic bioinformatics which was done collaboratively with the regional agriculture research and development centre in Bandarawela. The research was about revealing the resistance of the Ur -3 gene containing exotic bean accessions and growing commercial bean varieties in the Up-Country Intermediate Zone to rust disease caused by Uromyces appendiculatus and identifying the genetic basis of the Ur -3 gene that overcomes other Ur- genes using bioinformatics tools. At present, I am continuing my career as a MPhil student at the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education, at General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University under the main supervision of Dr. A. I. Kuruppu, and co-supervision under Dr. K. W. Samarakoon, Dr. Prasad Jayasooriya, and Dr. Mithila Bandara. My current research is about the Development of a food supplement with underutilized Sri Lankan plant components with anticancer activity. My research interest includes Molecular biology, Bioinformatics, Plant cell culture, and Gene technology. On the other hand, I am a singer, dubbing artist, and article writer too. 

Ms. Jayani K. Handagala
BSc. (Hons) Medical Laboratory Science
University of Ruhuna

I graduated from University of Ruhuna in 2017 and after graduation, I worked as a Medical Laboratory Technologist for both the private and public sector for 4 years. I am still attached to the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka and I am on study leave. I joined KDU in 2022 as a postgraduate student and I am reading for a MPhil on determining the effectiveness of Sri Lankan traditional medicine formulae to inhibit the dengue virus. My principal supervisor is Dr. A. I. Kuruppu, who is attached to the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education. My co-supervisors are Prof. C. L. Goonasekara, Dean- Faculty of Graduate Studies, and Dr. N. Kumarasinghe, Senior Lecturer-Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, General Sir John Kotelawlala Defence University. I enjoy reading, swimming and long drives.

 

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Ms. Mihiri Rangika Jayasinghe
B.Sc. (Hons). In Botany
University of Jaffna

I graduated with a BSc (Honours) in Botany from the University of Jaffna. Then, I worked as a demonstrator at the Faculty of Science, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. I am currently pursuing my M. Phil. at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. My current research involves evaluating anticancer activity of medicinal herbs. I am focusing mostly on the mechanism of anti-cancer activity of selected medicinal herbs and its formulae in Sri Lanka and their pharmaceutical applications. My principal supervisor is Dr. A I Kuruppu, and my co-supervisor is Dr.  K W Samarakoon who is attached to the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies, reading books, and cooking different food styles. I also like exploring new places and trying out different cuisines.

Ms. MA Sonali Marasinghe
Bachelor of Animal Science(Sp.)
Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka
MPhil(Reading)
General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University, Sri Lanka

I’m an inspirational Research Assistant, reading Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) in Nutraceuticals from herbal products, attached to the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research & Education (KDU-CARE) of General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University. I graduated as the Gold medalist for the best academic performance of 2015/2016 Animal Science batch from Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka. I worked as a Demonstrator in the same university just after my graduation. My research interests include on both Zoology and Botany as my background is in Animal science with the focus on Farm Animal anatomy, physiology, nutrition, animal related products. I am currently following my MPhil under the supervision of Dr. A.I. Kuruppu (Principal supervisor) and Dr. Sampath B. Alahakoon (Co-supervisor). My future expectation is to find novel outputs via collaborative researches from both streams. During my free times I wish to watch detective movies, do hiking and do long rides.

 

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Ms. L Ayeshmanthi Wickramaarachchi
B.S Food Science and Technology (Hons)
University of Sri Jayewardenepura

I graduated with bachelor’s in Food Science and Technology from University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2022. My undergraduate research was centered around developing functional product from traditional grain varieties. I intend to pursue further research in food commodities and their nutritional and bioactive components and convert them into functional foods and in vivo studies. My current postgraduate research is under KDU grant KDU/RG/2021/CARE/002 is concentrated on underutilized fruit varieties in Sri Lanka and find out their anti-cancer and ACE inhibitory activity to develop nutraceutical product which could enhance functional properties. Principal supervisors of the postgraduate research project are Dr. Kalpa Samarakoon, Dr. Prasad Ranasinghe and Dr. Theja Herath. I enjoy watching  movies based on true stories and autobiographies.

Ms. Nirmala Hansani Dharmasiri
B.Sc. (Hons). In Agriculture
University of Jaffna

I am a native of Sri Lanka and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Jaffna. Then, I became a demonstrator at the Faculty of Technology, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Afterward, I started my master’s at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. My master’s research was focused on “Develop appropriate drying, processing, and packaging technologies to avoid Aflatoxin contamination in Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt).” I am currently pursuing my M. Phil. at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. My current research involves “Evaluating some underutilized wild fruits in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka as a potential source for developing functional supplements.” I am focusing on the effects of the antidiabetic and antiobesity activities of underutilized fruits in Sri Lanka and their pharmaceutical applications. My principal supervisor is Dr. Kalpa W. Samarakoon, and my co-supervisors are Dr.P. Ranasinghe and Dr. Prasad Jayasooriya. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies, reading books, and cooking different food styles. I also like exploring new places and trying out different cuisines.

 

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Ms. Sawani Warusavithana
BSc. Sp. Botany
South Eastern University of Sri Lanka

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree, with a specialization in Botany, from the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka.  My undergraduate research was mainly focused on the investigation of secondary metabolites and antioxidants in commercially available medicinal plant materials. Currently, I am pursuing my MPhil research work, concentrating on the electrophysiology studies of Sri Lankan under-utilized fruit plants, under the principal supervision of Dr. Nadeesha P.W. Rathuwadu (KDU-CARE) and co-supervision of Dr. J.A. Surani Chathurika (USJP). I enjoy cooking, watching movies, cycling, swimming, jogging, travelling and listening to music during my leisure.

Ms. RMHY Rajapaksha
B.Sc. Chemistry (Hons)
Southeastern University of Sri Lanka

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in chemistry at the Southeastern University of Sri Lanka in 2022. My undergraduate research was focused on removing dyes and heavy metals from wastewater using activated coconut shell charcoal and low-cost adsorbents. Afterward, I joined as a temporary demonstrator in the Department of Chemistry at the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the Southeastern University of Sri Lanka. Then, I started my MPhil degree at the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education, General Sir John Kothalawela Defence University in March 2023. My research interest is in the application of MOFs in wastewater treatment. My current MPhil research project involves the development of a Metal-Organic Framework (MOF)-biopolymer composite materials- based filter for effective water remediation, under the supervision of Dr. Sampath B Alahakoon (Principal Supervisor), Dr. TM Mudassar Marso, Dr. Nalaka P. Sumanarathna and Dr. Nadeesha P. W. Rathuwadu(co-supervisor’s). I enjoy my free time learning new skills, reading, and spending time in outdoor areas.

Ms. Ovini Nathasha Malawalaarachchi
B.Sc. Chemistry
University of Colombo
M.Sc. Analytical Chemistry
University of Colombo

I graduated with a bachelor’s in Chemistry from the University of Colombo and was a member of Prof. K.M.N. de Silva and Prof. W.R.M. de Silva’s research group. My undergraduate research was focused on natural polysaccharides leading to super-sorbent hydroxyapatite nanoparticles with sponge and coral texture for the removal of heavy metal contamination in industrial wastewater. After graduation, I was able to leverage my expertise in Chemistry by joining the Department of Chemistry, The Open University of Sri Lanka, as a graduate teaching assistant for two years. Ardent to bolster my knowledge, I set myself for higher education through a Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Colombo. My master’s research was focused on synthesizing porous graphene material for energy-related applications under the supervision of Dr. Nadeesha P. W. Rathuwadu and Prof. D. P. Dissanayake. I intend to pursue further research experience in exploring electrochemical technologies for the synthesis of 2D material for energy storage and conversion applications. Hence, I took a great stride in my career through the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University by pursuing an MPhil degree in Material Chemistry, and Electro-chemistry and have joined as a member of the Dr. Nadeesha Rathuwadu’s research group in the year 2022. My current research is concentrated on Sri Lankan graphite value addition via electrochemical exfoliation. An exhilarating career in the field of chemistry has always been my dream.

 

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Mr. Sanjana Fernando
BSc. Sp. Botany
South Eastern University of Sri Lanka

I’m a Botany special graduate from the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. My undergraduate research was in the field of bioinformatics, where I did a study on “Computational identification of miRNA and their putative target genes of Ziziphus jujubae using expressed sequence tags” and I was able to identify a novel miRNA in Z.jujubae. Building on my knowledge and experience in Botany and bioinformatics, I’m currently conducting research in natural products with a focus on the “Evaluation of the mosquito-repellent activity of microencapsulated polyherbal formulations prepared from the extracts of selected citrus plants targeting a commercial ointment”. This research is being conducted under the principal supervision of Dr. Sampath B. Alahakoon, with Dr. R.G.P.T. Jayasooriya as the grantee, and co-supervision from Dr. N.D. Asha D. Wijegunaradana and Dr. Kalpa W. Samarakoon. Apart from academics, my leisure is mostly occupied with movies, traveling, and nature photography. After all, what is life without a pinch of entertainment?