Doctoral Finishing Fellowships Summer 2017 Recipient Chathura Gunasekara

Chathura Gunasekara
PhD Candidate in Computational Science and Engineering Program
School of Forest Resource and Environmental Science


Before Chathura started his Ph.D., he did his undergraduate degree in University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, majoring in Computational Physics. He has always been interested in interdisciplinary research, where computational techniques are used to solve tough scientific challenges. He discovered his lifelong career in Bioinformatics, when he joined the lab of Dr. Hairong Wei in 2013. His current research is in plant systems biology and bioinformatics, specifically, identifying genetic regulatory networks.

Plants will always be a vital component in every living species including humans. With the increasing human population, there is an increasing necessity to harness the limited resources to produce enough food from crop plants or timber from economical plants. The recent technological advances in genetics, genomics, and ergonomics have made promising discoveries that we can improve the yield but thanks to the advances in computing capabilities in terms of hardware and software. In recent years, the field of biology has transformed from data scarce discipline to a big data discipline and has become increasingly depended on computational approaches. In his research, he focused on several key areas of this computational challenge and developed solutions which were highly successful.

Being an international student, who worked as a research assistant to support his Ph.D. studies, the finishing fellowship awarded to him from the Graduate School will allow him to completely dedicate his final semester to writing his Ph.D. dissertation and prepare publications to share his research findings to the scientific community. Chathura plans the next phase of his career by joining a high impact research laboratory as a post-doctoral researcher.

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