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Australia Awards alumnus Lasantha Weerasinghe is helping combat climate change issues in Sri Lanka.

Posted: 21 August 2017

Sri Lanka, Impact,

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┬áLasantha.

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.

“My Australian education experience is the reason behind my success in research and awards of recognition” says Lasantha who is extremely grateful for the opportunity he received through Australia Awards.

Graduating from the University of Peradeniya in 2003 with a B.Sc. Agriculture degree, Lasantha joined the Department of Crop Science in the Faculty of Agriculture. Thereafter, he worked for several institutions including, the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka, and the Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka.

After concluding his postgraduate studies in Australia, Lasantha returned to the University of Peradeniya and resumed duties as a permanent lecturer in the Department of Crop Science, where he still works.