About Me

Growing up in Sri Lanka, one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world and an island country with a fast-growing population, I have always been fascinated by how resilient animals are to the changes in the environment. Animals come up with new ways to face challenges in their environment and these innovations in behavior and physiology continue to guide my research today.

My first research experience was an undergraduate internship at the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka. I went on to complete several other internships with the Forest Department, the National Zoological Garden, and the National Aquatic Resource Agency of Sri Lanka, and each of these experiences deepened my interest in research.

At the University of Peradeniya, my undergraduate institute, I majored in Zoology, completing an honors thesis on the variation of population structure of palm squirrels in semi-urban habitats. After graduating, I joined the Department of Zoology of my undergraduate institute as an assistant lecturer.

Later, I attended the University of Louisville where I was awarded my Ph.D. in the Fall of 2013.  My dissertation work, under Perri Eason, focused on understanding how changes in landscape affect the territorial behavior of cichlid fish. 

In 2014, I joined Emilia Martins lab, then at Indiana University, as a postdoctoral research fellow. My work as a postdoc is mainly centered on the sensory plasticity of zebrafish. I have led several field expeditions in India to identify natural zebrafish populations. I am now based at Arizona State University and I continue to explore how sensory systems mediate animals to keep up with environmental perturbations.

Education

2013      PhD, University of Louisville, Louisville

2012      Graduate Teaching Academy, Delphi Center,                        Louisville

2006      BSc (First Class Hon.), University of Peradeniya,                  Sri Lanka

Awards/ Honors

 

2013     Dean’s Citation Award, University of Louisville

 

2012     Best oral presentation, Zoology session,                             Kentucky Academy of Sciences

 

2009     Second place, oral presentation, Zoology                             session,Kentucky Academy of Sciences

 

2006     University Award for Academic Excellence,                         University of Peradeniya

Representative Grants/ Fellowships

 

2015 & 2016   Groups Summer Research Grant, Indiana University

2013                Doctoral Dissertation Completion Award, University of Louisville

2013                Graduate Student Union Grant, University of Louisville

2011                Guy Jordan Research Award, American Cichlid Association

2010                Biology Department Graduate Student Research Grant, University of Louisville

2010                Idea Wild Equipment Grant

2010                Graduate Student Creative Activity and Research Grant, University of Louisville