ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38

Lanka astronomer wins two top awards

Sri Lankan born scientist Ray Jayawardhana, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Toronto, has won two honours recently: the Early Researcher Award (ERA) from the Government of Ontario in Canada and the Vainu Bappu Gold Medal from the Astronomical Society of India.

The ERA is awarded on a competitive basis to promising young researchers to help build their research teams with its ultimate objective being improving Ontario's ability to attract and retain the best and brightest research talent.

The Bappu Medal honours the contributions of young scientists in astronomy and astrophysics. Past winners include George Efstathiou (UK), Shri Kulkarni (USA) and Brian Schmidt (Australia). Jayawardhana received the award and delivered the Vainu Bappu memorial lecture at a meeting of the Astronomical Society of India in Hyderabad early this month.

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Jayawardhana holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He spent two years as a Miller Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and two years as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, before moving to Toronto. He uses some of the world's largest telescopes -- including VLT, Subaru, Keck, Gemini and Magellan -- to explore the origin and diversity of planetary systems as well as the formation of stars and brown dwarfs.

He is the co-author of more than 50 scientific papers and co-editor of two volumes of conference proceedings. His research findings have been featured in a wide variety of print and broadcast media around the world.

Jayawardhana is also a renowned science writer. His popular articles have also appeared in a variety of publications including The Economist, Science, New Scientist, Scientific American, Astronomy, and Sky & Telescope.

He is the recipient of the 2003 Science Writing Award for a Scientist from the American Institute of Physics, and author of the book "Star Factories: The Birth of Stars and Planets".

Doctorate in Control Engineering

Ms. Harini Kulatunga has obtained her doctorate in Control Engineering from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering of the University of Sheffield, U.K. Her research work leading to the Post-graduate Degree was related to adaptive Algorithms for Signal Detection in CDMA wireless communication systems.

Earlier, she graduated in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology, India. Both courses of study were on scholarships offered by the Government of India and the University of Sheffield respectively. Before proceeding to the United Kingdom, she was employed at the IBM World Trade Corporation, Sri Lanka.

Currently, Harini is serving at the Imperial College of London as a post-doctoral researcher in areas such as financial modelling to nuclear power and weapons simulations.

Harini had her education at Holy Family Convent, Kurunegala, Lindsay Girls' School, Colombo and Ladies College, Colombo. She is the wife of Dr. Manual Sachez of Spain and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bandula Kulatunga of Matale.

Off to Australia for Ph.D

Anuradha Malalasekara, formerly attached to the Department of Linguistics of the University of Kelaniya as an assistant lecturer in Linguistics and Translation Studies, left for Australia on a scholarship to read for her Ph.D on Postcolonial Literary Translations at the Monash University.

She obtained an Endeavour Postgraduate Award from the Department of Education, Science and Training of the Australian Government.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.