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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Piyal Ariyananda

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Dr. Piyal Ariyananda joined the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon in 1994. Although he missed State University entrance marginally, with the guidance and support of his mentor, Dr. Ariyananda was driven to follow his passion for Chemistry. Looking back on the day he enrolled, Dr. Ariyananda states that he never thought that he would reach this far. Although he was an average performer as a school student, he shined as an undergraduate. Dr. Ariyananda was the recipient of the Best Performance award and W.F. Peiris memorial scholarship for his performance at the Graduateship in Chemistry Part I examination. During his final year, he received the second Best Performance award at the Graduateship in Chemistry Part II examination.

Dr. Ariyananda joined ITI as a volunteer research assistant, which became the stepping stone for his aspiration to become a Chemistry researcher. He was eager to gain maximum experience and exposure and worked hard to understand the troubleshooting and repair of instruments. After graduating, he joined Unilever Ceylon as a Chemist. At the time, Unilever was a benchmarked opportunity for all Graduate Chemists. He was fortunate to receive a position at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the USA, to pursue a Master’s Degree in Inorganic Chemistry and was the proud recipient of the Most Outstanding Graduate Student in the Department of Chemistry award. In 2010, Dr. Ariyananda obtained his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Delaware. Subsequently, Dr. Ariyananda went to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delaware, where he focused on finding a route to utilize atmospheric Carbon dioxide as a fuel alternative.

After two years, he received the opportunity to work in the BASF affiliated Catalytic Research Lab (CaRLa), Heidelberg, Germany. After returning to Sri Lanka, Dr. Ariyananda joined Midas Safety as the Head of R&D, where he commercialized several products including, the first supported silicone glove for glass fabrication applications and biodegradable nitrile gloves. Furthermore, he has a patent for developing a method to produce black polyurethane gloves. Subsequently, he joined Bodyline Pvt. Ltd. as the head of Innovation, where he invented biodegradable polyester fabrics. Later, while working for the STEM Education Steering Committee to develop a new STEM Curriculum to suit the Sri Lankan Education System, Dr. Ariyananda joined the Parliament as a consultant. Currently, he is the Director of Innovation – Ceylon Cosmetics, and Ceylon Detergents. He is also the Treasurer of the Royal Society of Chemistry (Sri Lanka section) and a council member of the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon.

“Unlike in the other universities, IchemC brought together the cream of lecturers from all prominent Universities in Sri Lanka under one roof. We learned from the best of the best. The foundation and theoretical background I obtained from IChemC was more than adequate to excel in both my MSc and PhD. About 26 years ago, there was no research done at IChemC as now, but we had the opportunity to get affiliated with research institutions and carry out research projects as research assistants. We were the first batch of students to break the barrier of getting into overseas Universities for Postgraduate degrees. We guided the rest of the students at IchemC through seminars/workshops, and individual direction. Now, we have a very successful and strong Alumni that we can look up to.”