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Sri Lankan Women In Science

10 of the greatest names in Science in Sri Lanka.

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Every year February 11th comes and goes and somehow gets overshadowed by the ever hallowed February 14th. With all it's red fluffy crap at every visible surface, everyone seems to forget that the International Day for Women and Girls in Science even exists. 

However, we've decided to do something about this day and thus decided to compile a list of just a few (of many) Sri Lankan women in science. 

Dorothy Cayley

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One of the names on this particular list that goes back to a time none of were even though of, Dorothy Cayley was born in Sri Lanka and moved to England later on in her lifetime. And it is through her discovery in 1927 that we know that tulips get a vivid colourful streak in them due to a virus which is identified as the Tulip Breaking Virus.

Sonali Deraniyagala

Photo Credits: BBC, via

Sonali Deraniyagala is a name known to many of us. Born in Sri Lanka, she studied economics at Cambridge University and has a doctorate from the University of Oxford. However, she is best known for her 2013 memoir "Wave" which speaks about her experiences during and after the 2004 Tsunami due to which she lost her husband and 2 children. Acclaimed both nationally as well as internationally, the book is currently used as a literary text for the GCSE O/L examinations.  

Louiqa Raschid

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Louiqa Raschid is a data scientist who is a professor at the University of Maryland. Backed by over 2 decades of experience, and amongst many achievements, she has also made significant contributions towards solving the challenges of data management, data integration, and performance for applications in the life sciences, Web data delivery, health information, financial information systems, humanitarian IT applications and Grid computing. 

Ajantha Perera

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The only female to participate in the Presidential election of 2019, Ajantha Perera is a nationally and internationally recognized Environmental Scientist. Named "Garbage Queen", she is the backbone to many environmental-friendly policies in recent years in the island. And surrounding it all, she is also known for storming into a LTTE base in Vavuniya to advocate the importance of environmental protection. 

Asha de Vos

Photo Credits: Spencer Lowell/Wired UK

Founder of Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education organisation, Oceanswell, the name Asha de Vos is not one that is unfamiliar to us. A marine biologist, ocean educator and pioneer for blue whale research on the island, Asha de Vos, amongst her many other achievements made it to BBC's 100 Women in 2018. She is a TED Senior Fellow, Marine Conservation Action Fund Fellow, and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and has received several awards as well. 

Hemamala Karunadasa 

Photo Credits: Binhong Lin via

Born and educated in Colombo, Hemamala Karunadasa is a renowned Chemist who currently works as an Assistant Professor at Stanford University. A student of Ladies' College, she went on to major in chemistry and materials science as an undergraduate at Princeton University. A recipient to many awards, Hemamala Karunadasa's work creates hybrid perovskite materials that combine small organic molecules with inorganic solids of which she works to diminish its shortcomings. 

Hiranya Peiris

Photo Credits: Niklas Björling via 

If one were to simmer it down to as simple as it could quite possibly get, Hiranya Peiris is a Scientist who studies the Big Bang. And that's just putting it lightly. A successful researcher with a strong urge to facilitate public understanding of science, she is a professor of astrophysics at University College London and director of the Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics in Stockholm.  She also happens to be one of 27 scientists who received the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2018. 

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