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1st international Conference on Frontiers in Chemical Technology 2020 organized by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, held from 20-22 July 2020

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The Institute of Chemistry Ceylon has always believed in “uplifting the quality of life for a better world through the advancement of Chemical Sciences”. In keeping with this vision, the international conference on “Frontiers in Chemical Technology (FCT-2020)” was organized, and was held from the 20th to 22nd of July 2020, at the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon. First of many to come, the conference served as a kaleidoscope, offering a glimpse of a multitude of domains under chemical technology, such as Innovations in drug discovery and development, Modern challenges in environmental and green technology, Alternative energy sources for sustainable development, Genomics and metabolomics, Innovative strategies in chemical education, Nanotechnology for sustainable development, Engineering technology in the chemical industry, Electrochemical and sensor technology, Chemical technology in food and agro-industry and  Cosmeceutical, nutraceutical, and herbal product industry.

Having received over 130 abstract submissions from renowned institutions placed both nationally and internationally, the conference saw the participation of intellectuals and professionals from state universities such as University of Colombo, University of Peradeniya, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, University of Kelaniya, University of Ruhuna, University of Moratuwa etc. and research institutes such as Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology, National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Industrial Technology Institute etc. Foreign institutions located across countries such as the USA, the UK, India, Bangladesh, Russia, New Zealand, Nigeria and Israel participated in FCT-2020 as well. The event was graced by many eminent local and foreign scientists who participated both physically and via online to share knowledge and experience in their areas of expertise.

The Chief Guest for the event was Prof. Janitha Liyanage, Vice-Chairperson of the University Grants Commission. The keynote addresses were delivered by Prof. Subramaniam Sotheeswaran (Emeritus Professor, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji), Prof. Ashok Pandey (CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, India), Prof. Amelia P Rauter (Vice President, Division III of Organic and Bimolecular Chemistry, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), Dr. Sarah Thomas (Senior International Development Manager, Royal Society of Chemistry, UK) and Prof. Neelakanthi Gunawardena (Director, Semiochem Lanka Private Ltd, Sri Lanka). The plenary speakers at the conference were Prof. Ayanthi Navaratne (Department of Chemistry, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka), Prof. Suryanarayanan Trichur Subramanian (Vivekananda Institute of Tropical Mycology, Chennai, India), Prof. Dinesh Mohan (School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), Prof. P A Nimal Punyasiri (IBMBB, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), Prof. Nilwala Kottegoda (Department of Chemistry, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka), Prof. Todd Mlsna (Department of Chemistry, Mississippi State University, USA), Prof. Kapila Seneviratne (Department of Chemistry, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka), Dr. Sameera Samarakoon (IBMBB, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), Dr. Rohan Perera (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Netherlands), Prof. Channa R De Silva (Department of Chemistry and Physics, Western Carolina University, USA), Prof. Deb Mlsna (Department of Chemistry, Mississippi State University, USA) and Prof. Namal Priyantha (Department of Chemistry, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka).

Other highlights of FCT-2020 were the poster presentation session held on the second day of the conference, and the special technical session held on the third day, dedicated to the Womens’ Chemists Committee of Sri Lanka. In this session, five women chemists, Ms. Lankani Hettigoda (Research and Development, Siddhalepa, Sri Lanka), Prof. Amelia P Rauter (Vice President, Division III of Organic and Bimolecular Chemistry, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), Mrs. Renuka Jayasundara (Managing Director, Analytical Instruments (Pvt) Ltd), Dr. K.M. Thilini Gunasekara (Senior Lecturer, Department of Polymer Science, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenapura) and Dr. Julie Franklin (Career and Professional Development Advisor, Royal Society of Chemistry, UK), shared their stories, inspiring all those who were present.

The organizing committee comprised of Prof. Priyani Paranagama, President of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (Conference Chair), Dr. Sameera R Gunatilake, Hony. Editor, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (Conference Secretary), Dr. A A P Keerthi, Hony. Treasurer, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (Conference Treasurer), Prof. Kapila Seneviratne (Editor-in-Chief), Dr. Ireshika De Silva and Dr. Chayanika Padumadasa, Hony. Joint Secretaries, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, Prof. P A Nimal Punyasiri, Hony. Assistant Treasurer, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, Dr. Dinusha Udukala, Hony. Assistant Editor, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, Dr. Medha Gunaratna, Mr. N.M.S Hettigedara, Ms. Samadhi Nawalage and Mr. Sahan Jayasingha. Furthermore, FCT-2020 would not have been possible if not for the dedicated team of teaching assistants and officials who were involved in organizing the proceedings. Despite the prevailing pandemic, the team behind FCT-2020 toiled day and night to make this event a reality. Owing to their unwavering faith and tireless efforts, the conference was brought back on track following a month’s postponement, enabling participants worldwide to join the sessions either physically or via online.

As the Institute celebrates its 79th anniversary, FCT-2020 has marked an important milestone in the Institute’s glorious history of serving as “the center of excellence in Chemical Sciences for the socio-economic development through education, research and innovation” in Sri Lanka.  We at the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon believe that FCT-2020 has served as a stepping stone in the revolution of “shaping careers of chemists through the advancement of chemical technology”, to explore the frontiers of chemical technology and conquer the frontiers of a better tomorrow.

Dignitaries of the Head Table at the inauguration ceremony of Frontiers in Chemical Technology 2020

Prof Priyani Paranagama, Conference Chair and President of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon

Chief Guest Prof. Janitha Liyanage, Vice-Chairperson of the University Grants Commission

Presenter at the International Conference on Frontiers in Chemical Technology 2020

Poster presentation session at the international Conference on Frontiers in Chemical Technology 2020

Mrs. Renuka Jayasundara (Managing Director, Analytical Instruments (Pvt) Ltd), Guest speaker at the Womens’ Chemists Forum