In a ceremony held yesterday, 15th January 2017 at the Sri Lanka Foundation premises in Colombo, the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science(SLAAS) inducted Prof. Chandana Jayarathna as the president of the organization for the year 2018. Prof. Jayarathna was ceremonially sworn in by the outgoing president Eng. V. Ragunathan.
Professor K P S Chandana Jayaratne is currently serving as a Professor in Physics, Department of Physics, University of Colombo, Colombo-03, Sri Lanka and also the Consultant to the Space Science Division, Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, Katubedda, Moratuwa. He is also a well-known astronomer with several research publications on astronomy and engaging in delivering lectures on astronomy in several universities in the country. He was also the person involved in establishing the biggest telescope in the country at the Arthur C Clarke institute for Modern Technologies in Moratuwa. He coordinated and funded the Sri Lankan Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (2007) and Sri Lankan Junior Astronomy Olympiad (2011) and also serves as the Sri Lankan representative and a Board member of the International Board on Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (since 2007) and a current Member, International Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).
He is also a pioneer in Lightning research in Sri Lanka. In 1986 he started his research on atmospheric physics and lightning jointly with the Institute of High Voltage Research and Department of Meteorology in Uppsala University Sweden. His PhD work has led to the Construction of an Atmospheric Physics and Thunderstorm electricity research laboratory in Sri Lanka and development of PhD and other postgraduate degree awarding facility in this field locally.
Prof Jayaratne has published over 100 research articles and publications in local and international journals, well over 500 Radio and TV programs on contemporary scientific issues and on astronomy. To his credit he received in 1991 the “Third World Academy of Sciences Prizes for Young Scientists – The 1991 Prize for Physics awarded by NSF and in 1992, the GRC (General Research Committee of SLAAS) merit award for his contribution to Sri Lankan Science and in 1996.
Delivering the guest of honor prof. Dhammika Tantirigoda, chairman of the Arthur C Cleark Institute of Modern Technologies gave a brief introduction on prof. Jayarathna and discussed the challenges lying ahead of him as the president for the upcoming year.
Chief guest of the event Minister of Science, Technology, and Research Mr. Susil Premajaynatha in his speech emphasized the importance of STEM education in the development process of the country. He also added that the country is facing a lack of scientists compared to the population of the country, and also, he described how the country is gradually shifting to a novel innovation based economy with the addition of new technology centers like SLINTEC and New Biotech Center.
Past presidents of the SLAAS, members of the current SLAAS council, committee members, and other invited guests participated the event.