For the first time, two Sri Lankan undergraduate students participated in the 2016 Summer Student Program 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 University of Ruhuna and Malinda Shiram de Silva, a final year undergraduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo, completed their two month program last week. The Sri Lankan students were selected on merit by CERN, following a funding arrangement negotiated by the Permanent Mission, where CERN provides financial assistance for one student and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) funds the other student.
This special program for undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering, provides 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 this program. 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 Program 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 25 June 2015 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 CERN’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 the 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 program, to enable participation of Sri Lankan teachers in the CERN High School Teachers Program, 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. Mr. 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. Malinda Shiram de Silva, previously a student of St. Peter’s College,
entered University in 2012 and is currently following a special degree in Engineering Physics. Being the current President of the Physics Society of the University of Colombo, he has engaged in many discussions on Physics and fields related to Physics in order to educate and inspire others to pursue Physics within the University. At CERN he was involved in the analysis of data of new components to be installed in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) in its upgrade scheduled for 2025