The ISP/UU Alumni Network
As a former student, group leader, network coordinator, or fellow in ISP or Sida programs you are a part of Uppsala University’s Global Alumni Community, regardless of where you studied/worked. This network is ISP's way of staying in touch with you and for you to connect with other alumni in your country and elsewhere.
Membership of the Alumni Network is free and inclusive! By becoming a member you ensure that ISP and Uppsala University can contact you with newsletters, invitations and offers to events all over the world!
ISP Alumni 2023
Biochemist and Food Scientist – Prof Sagarika Ekanayake
ISP would like to recognise Prof Sagarika Ekanayake for her contribution to Food Science in Sri Lanka.
ISP supported groups in Sri Lanka for 32 years* and Prof Ekanayake is one of the supported Sandwich PhD students. Today she is the Chair Senior Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences at University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She is also an elected Council Member of the National Academy of Sciences in Sri Lanka, as well as a full-time Visiting Professor, past Dean and President (2020-2021) at Institute of Chemistry Ceylon.
Prof Ekanayake received her BSc in Chemistry in 1992 at University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She pursued a MPhil in Food Chemistry at University of Sri Jayewardenepura with ISP support in 1999 (with visits to Sweden). Since the University of Sri Jayewardenepura lacked fundamental equipment for PhD studies in chemistry, Prof Ekanayake started her PhD studies, also with ISP support, in Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry at Lund University, Sweden. She graduated in 2005.
- I am what I am today because of the training, guidance and the support ISP gave me. It changed my life.
Prof Ekanayake, what got you interested in Chemistry in the first place?
- Hmm, I don’t have a specific answer. I think I had good teachers who made chemistry very interesting. Also, school at that time was about memorising texts in every subject, but chemistry classes had a practical component and fundamentals that could be applied. I liked that.
Back in Sri Lanka she joined the Department of Biochemistry at University of Sri Jayewardenepura as a staff member, and as a member of the ISP supported chemistry group in Nutritional Biochemistry, SRI:07 (supported by ISP 1995-2009). She later became the leader of this group. Among other things the group established an online database of GI values of Sri Lankan food, still in use today by physicians, dieticians and nutritionists.
What would you say that the ISP support has contributed with?
- So many things! Not only for me personally. For example, many of us who were Prof Errol Jansz´s (group leader of SRI:07) students, 10 people or so, got the opportunity to go abroad, to Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Sweden and Thailand for training at Centres of Excellence. The opportunity for this outside exposure made us more open and more broad-minded, and of course it helped us in our training. Moreover, all this training is now used when training students.
ISP gave us the opportunity to meet senior well recognised scientists from whom we learnt many things in addition to conducting research and with whom we still communicate and conduct activities.
Moreover, for ISP funds we could buy equipment – some of it we still use today! ISP office support was always excellent which we all highly appreciate. Nice communication and very, very helpful!
Also, while I was doing my PhD work in Sweden I saw how the research done in university benefited industry or society. Collaboration between industry and academia or any other for outcome-based research is an important thing I learned from visits to Swedish universities. This I have tried to practice long before the concept was very much encouraged by our Sri Lankan universities.
Today Prof Ekanayake´s research includes Food Science (e.g. the nutrition part of traditional foods), Clinical Biochemistry, Natural Products Chemistry, and some Nanotechnology. Some results of their research are used in Food-Based Dietry Guidelines for Sri Lankans book, used in Sri Lanka today by medical doctors and general population.
What are your future plans?
- Difficult to answer considering the political and economic crisis in my country right now. Since last year it has been a problem to get funding for research. Before that we had a granting system that worked good enough. But we will do are best to find new ways.
Keep up the good work and thank you for your devotion to Chemistry, Prof Ekanayake!
*Read more about ISP and Sri Lanka in The International Science Programme in Sri Lanka and Thailand: Three decades of research cooperation by Rebecca Andersson and Marta Zdravkovic (2017)
ISP Alumni 2022
Female leader and role model – Dr Addisalem Abathun
ISP would like to recognise Dr Addisalem Abathun for her contribution to strengthen women leadership in mathematics in Ethiopia.
Inorganic chemistry explorer - Dr Ruth Odhiambo
ISP would like to recognise Dr Ruth Odhiambo for her important work to improve inorganic chemistry research in Kenya.
ISP Alumni 2021
Female Pioneer in Physics - Dr Margaret Emmanuel Samiji
ISP would like to recognise Margaret Emmanuel Samiji for her magnificent contributions for physics education in Tanzania.
She was the first woman to get PhD in Physics in her country!
Math Capacity Builder - Dr Tilahun Abebaw
ISP would like to recognise Dr Tilahun Abebaw for his important work to build research capacity in Ethiopia.
Read more about Dr Tilahun Abebaw
Food Engineer – Prof Jenny Ruales Nájera
ISP would like to recognise Prof Jenny Ruales Nájera for her excellent work with food security in Latin America.
Read more about Dr Jenny Ruales Nájera.
ISP Alumni 2020
ISP Super-Collaborator – Prof Nilufar Nahar
ISP would like to recognise Prof Nilufar Nahar for her important contributions to increase international, regional and national chemistry collaboration and her engagement in ISP activities.
Read more about Prof Nilufar Nahar.
Brilliant mathematician - Dr Jared Ongaro
Read more about Dr Jared Ongaro
Physics Role model - Dr Manjura Hoque
ISP would like to recognise Dr Engr Sheikh Manjura Hoque for her prominent contributions to the development of the materials science research in Bangladesh.
Read more about Dr Manjura Hoque.
ISP Alumni of the Quarter 2019
Genomics Expert - Prof Collen Masimirembwa
ISP would like to recognise Prof Collen Masimirembwa for his immense contribution to genomics research in Africa, for establishing the first DNA testing center in Zimbabwe and for his tireless efforts to strengthen research capacity in the region.
Read more about Prof Collen Masimirembwa.
Director General for Renewable Energies - Dr Bruno Korgo
ISP would like to recognise ISP graduate and Physicist, Dr Bruno Korgo, for his important work towards scaling up renewable energy in one of the least electrified countries globally, Burkina Faso.
Read more about Dr Bruno Korgo.
Gender Equity Advocate Dr Betty Nannyonga
ISP would like to recognise ISP graduate and Ugandan mathematician, Dr Betty Nannyonga, for her outstanding and important work towards creating a gender-balanced representation in the basic sciences in Uganda and Eastern Africa.
Read more about Dr Betty Nannyonga.
Lightning Guru Dr Chandima Gomes
ISP would like to recognise Sri Lankan engineer and physicist, Dr Chandima Gomes, for his outstanding contributions to the lightning protection field in Asia and Africa.
Read more about Dr Chandima Gomes.