Two Lankan students participate in CERN Summer Student Programme


From right: Charlotte L. Warakaulle, Director for International Relations of CERN, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Malinda Shiram de Silva, from the University of Colombo, Gamage Gihan Lakmal from the University of Ruhuna, Dr Rüdiger Voss, Senior Advisor and former Head of International Relations of CERN and Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva

For the first time, two Sri Lankan undergraduate students participated in the 2016 Summer Student Programme at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, the most prominent particle physics research institute in the world. 

Gamage Gihan Lakmal, a graduate from the Faculty of Science of the Ruhuna University and Malinda Shiram de Silva, a final year undergraduate from the Faculty of Science of the Colombo University, completed their two month programme last week.

The Sri Lankan students were selected on merit by CERN, following a funding arrangement negotiated by the our Permanent Mission in  Geneva, where CERN provided financial assistance for one student and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) funded the other student, a press release issued by the Sri Lankan Mission said yesterday.

The release said that the special programme for undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering, provided a unique experience of joining research teams and participating in experiments at CERN. It has been in operation since 1962 and had students from 104 countries participating. This year 278 students from 87 countries participated in the programme.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha noted that the participation of the two Sri Lankan students in the CERN Summer Student Programme this year is one of the tangible benefits following the formalization of relations between Sri Lanka and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) through the signing of an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) between GoSL and CERN on June 25 and the continuing engagement between CERN and the Government of Sri Lanka.

During a visit to CERN in May 2016 Minister of Science, Technology & Research, Susil Premajayantha agreed to enhance collaboration between CERN and Sri Lanka, through the development of a network of scientific community of Sri Lankan scientists and researchers, who could remain engaged with the research activity carried out by CERN.

At a recent review of the relationship between CERN and Sri Lanka with former’s Senior Advisor and former Head of International Relations, Dr Rüdiger Voss, Head of Associate Member and Non-Member State Relations Prof. Emmanuel Tsesmelis, the Ambassador and Ms Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary of the Mission coordinating relations with CERN discussed several proposals in order to increase the number of undergraduates attending the Summer Student programme, to enable participation of Sri Lankan teachers in the CERN High School Teachers Programme, to seek the possibility of a group of Sri Lankan Scientists to visit CERN, to conduct a workshop in Sri Lanka on the topic of cooperation between Sri Lanka and CERN and also to sign an International Cooperation Agreement (ICA) between Sri Lanka and CERN by next year.

In September, CERN Senior Advisor Dr Voss will be visiting Sri Lanka as a Guest of the Government of Sri Lanka and a Resource Person/Speaker at the ‘Science and Technology for Society Forum Sri Lanka 2016’  (STS Forum 2016), scheduled  to be held from 8-10 September 2016 in Colombo. This will be the second visit of Dr. Voss to Sri Lanka since his visit in 2014, coordinated by the Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI), Ministry of Science, Technology and Research. During his visit, Dr Voss will engage in discussions with the Sri Lankan scientific community with the view of enhancing further collaborations between Sri Lanka and CERN through the creation of a nucleus of scientists.

Gamage Gihan Lakmal, previously a student of Ananda College and Asoka College, entered Ruhuna University in 2011 and recently graduated with a second class upper division in Bachelor of Science (specialized in Physics). He was the President of the Ruhuna Science Research Circle & the Physics Society in 2015. Also he has won the third place at the invention and innovation exhibition at the University of Ruhuna in 2015 for his final year project on calibration testing and modifying the low cost monochromator for use as an excitation source in future optoelectronic characterization experiments. At CERN he was involved in the research work related to building an immersive, panoramic virtual visit of the CERN Data Centre.

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