In a groundbreaking event that marked a new chapter in Sri Lanka’s academic landscape, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura hosted the first-ever TEDx event organized by a university in the country. The TEDxUSriJayewardenepura held at the Auditorium of the Faculty of Technology’s on August 29, 2023, brought together a diverse group of speakers who shared their ideas on innovation, entrepreneurship, social justice, and more.
Under the leadership of Prof. Lasith Gunawardena and Prof. Ruwani Nilushi Nugara, the Invention and Venture Creation Council (IIVCC) played a pivotal role in orchestrating this milestone event. In accordance with TED guidelines the event showcased eleven speakers with two TEDTalks videos, fostering profound discussions and connections among attendees.
The event speaker lineup featured distinguished figures from various faculties of the university, each bringing their expertise to the forefront:
Prof. Hiran Amarasekera, a leading figure in Forestry and Environmental Science, as well as the founder of the USJ Startup Hub shared his ideas on “Fostering startup culture among undergraduates and graduates in universities.”
Prof. Neelika Malavige, an accomplished academic, researcher, and scientist, highlighted her work in Immunology and Molecular Sciences, along with her and her group’s significant contributions to the Global Dengue Program through her talk on “Survival of the Kindest.”
Prof. Prasad M. Jayaweera, a celebrated scholar in the field of Computer Science who is also serving as the Founder Dean of the Faculty of Computing delivered a talk on “Tackling manifold aspects of reality” with insights into several models to solve complex societal and wicked problems.
Prof. Nithushi Samaranayake, is a Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, shared her passion in training and research activities related to medication safety through a talk titled “The three ‘R’s in medicine use.”
Dr. Madhubhashini Disanayaka Ratnayake, an academic, creative writer, and translator discussed her work in literature, translation, and projects to enhance English language teaching nationally in her talk titled “What is education?”
Dr. Priyake Palipana, a consultant in Restorative Dentistry who is currently serving as the Head of the Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dental Sciences. His years of experience in the field of Restorative Dentistry was shared in his talk on “Teeth and Smile in Proportion.”
Dr. Dulini Yasara Mudunkotuwa, the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, showcased her journey as a researcher, particularly her involvement in establishing an Advanced Engineering Simulation Center and maker space for sustainable product development through her talk on “Learn by doing: How we engineer the innovators of tomorrow.”
Dr. Erandi Pathirana, a veterinarian and researcher, brought attention to her studies on the impact of climate change on marine life, emphasizing the critical relationship between the environment and the genetics of aquatic organisms in her talk titled “Marine Microbiome: The fascinating world within our oceans.”
Dr. Lanka Undugoda, a Senior Lecturer in Biosystems Technology, shared her innovative research on phytoremediation—exploiting leaf-dwelling microorganisms to degrade air pollutants—contributing to environmental sustainability in her talk on “Unsung heroes of environmentalism.”
Mr. Sachin Wijayasinghe, an academic and public speaker, explored the intersection of development economics and sports, advocating for the transformative power of sports in promoting social change. His speech was titled “Smart cities beyond technology: Let’s stick to our values.”
Ms. Senara Vidanapathirana, is an accomplished fourth year medical undergraduate, debater, and a public speaker who won the esteemed “Best Communicator” award among university undergraduates at the “Japura Employability Skills Awards 2022”. She shared her journey of life in a talk titled “Rediscovering yourself: navigating the turbulent seas of passion and purpose.”
The event wasn’t just about ideas on stage; it marked a significant shift in how academia engages with the broader community. By embracing the TEDx platform, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura demonstrated its commitment to fostering dialogue, innovation, and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
TEDxUSriJayewardenepura served as a testament to the power of ideas and their ability to transcend boundaries. As the first university organized TEDx event in Sri Lanka, it set the stage for future discussions, connections, and the continued exploration of innovative solutions to the challenges of our time.
The Recorded Videos will be Uploaded to the TEDx YouTube Channel is due course. The event was supported by I-Lab Project of the Faculty of Engineering, TIIKM Events as a Equipment Provider,. The videography of the event was carried out by Japura Media, and photography was carried out by Japura Flames.