I am deeply honored to be inducted as the President of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon for the Year 2021/2022 and I take this opportunity to thank the members for the confidence placed in me.
Having served as a Senior Academic at University of Colombo for over 4 decades, I have also been associated with the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon for 3.5 decades. I have watched the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon grow productively in many spheres in keeping with the Vision and Mission of the Institute and encompassing the fact that Chemistry is the Central Science.
The Institute of Chemistry has played a pivotal role in being the largest provider of Graduate Chemists to a vast array of organizations in the country. This has been largely due to the ‘Educational Arm’ of the Institute, the College of Chemical Sciences (CCS), which administers the Graduateship in Chemistry (GIC) course (since 1979). In this respect, I must acknowledge the pioneering efforts and visionary leadership of the late Professor J.N.O. Fernando, who was my teacher, as well as colleague in later years. A University Grants Commission accredited B.Sc. program in Chemical Sciences has also got off the ground (commencing 2020) with the 2nd batch being just enrolled. The Diploma in Laboratory Technician (DLT) course (since 1973) has also been very successful in providing the Industry with technical personnel of high quality and in-depth knowledge. The Ceylon Medical College Council recognized the DLT Course as a qualification to obtain the Medical Laboratory Technology status.
The GIC course has produced over 125 graduates annually and the recipients have not only gained employment in the private sector but have secured scholarships to universities in developed countries to pursue higher studies leading to a Doctoral Degree. I am proud to have been associated with the CCS for many years and thereby had the opportunity to “shape” the minds of students enabling them to carry out cutting-edge research in countries overseas.
Although we at the institute may not have facilities to break through frontiers in chemical research, the introduction of the research project into the curriculum has been a great means to create an interest in research among students. This would have no doubt helped them in their postgraduate studies overseas; some having excelled in breaking through the frontiers.
During my tenure as President, I will continue some activities conducted by the Institute over the years, and also incorporate new ones aimed at exposing young minds to frontiers in chemical research, enhancing creativity, developing analytical skills, and improving broad-based knowledge in chemistry, as well as help, develop soft skills in students at the tertiary level of education.
Creating an interest in Chemistry at the secondary level of education in order to steer students towards an outcome-oriented career is also of prime importance. Young minds need to be guided through a process of a wholesome education. As in some developed countries students need to be encouraged to be innovative when they are in grade school. With the view of shaping minds at a young age, activities are planned to inculcate interest for further study of science and to cultivate interest and enthusiasm for Chemistry among school children, emphasizing its importance in today’s world.
I plan to organize Seminars on scientific topics of current interest which give exposure not only to undergraduate students of the Institute but will also benefit scientific personnel/ technicians in the industry and other scientific organizations. This will particularly benefit the DLT Course where most of the students are employed in industry and analytical laboratories. Furthermore, I will strive towards shaping the Institute – Industry interaction for the betterment of society.
This year we would see the intended new building of the Institute of Chemistry at Malabe get off the ground. This building will enable CCS to expand its educational activities. Importantly, the new laboratories would enable students to engage in research at a higher level. Analytical services to the industry could also be carried out effectively with the availability of additional laboratory space. This could be quite an income generator.
During my term as President, I will endeavor to steer the Institute of Chemistry to greater heights by contributing towards intellectual growth through education in Chemical Sciences. I am sure I will gain much support from the members of the Council, Academic Board, Internal Academic Staff, and the Non-Academic staff to fulfill my goals during the year of my Presidency.
Professor Srianthie Deraniyagala
B.Sc (Hons, Colombo), Ph.D (Dalhousie, Canada)
F.IChemC ; C.Chem.
Former Senior Professor,
University of Colombo