S. Dulmini Nanayakkara

Doctoral candidate, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

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Strategical plan, flexibility in you, and the capability to take the risk together with consistency in hard work and passion will establish a name for yourself.

What do you do?

Since I remember myself I was fascinated by the mystery of microscopic creatures and how they impact our day to day activities. That curiosity led me to earn my BSc in Microbiology from Mangalore University, India, and MSc. in Medical Microbiology from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Therefore, I consider myself a versatile Microbiology graduate and due to my outstanding academic track record, I was awarded a fully-funded Ph.D. scholarship by the Hong Kong government to pursue my Ph.D. in The Chinese University of Hong Kong (QS global ranking # 43). My Ph.D. research focuses on an investigation of the antimicrobial resistance in possible zoonotic bacteria in food animals and to determine their cross-host transmission (transfer to human) to increase AMR burden with special focus on applying cutting edge molecular biology techniques. I research focused on this specific topic is due to antibiotic resistance is an increasing global health concern and WHO estimates10 million deaths annually in the future due to AMR related infectious diseases. Through, the research articles that I have published in peer-reviewed premier international journals and the research manuscripts in preparations, I am proposing how the food animals are contributing to increase the spread of AMR in the general population, what are the precautionary measurement can be taken to diminish the spread of AMR and identifying novel AMR mechanisms. We hypothesis these findings will play a crucial role in policymaking to prevail spread of AMR in Hong Kong. Finally, I would like to apply my expertise to the betterment of the people of my motherland (Sri Lanka), where this kind of researches is yet to be done to make people aware of the risk.

Why did you choose this field?

According to the predictions by World Health Organization, the antimicrobial drug-resistant disease could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. Combating AMR needs a collaborative effort of multiple sectors to attain optimal health for people, domestic animals, wildlife, plants, and our environment. So in order to address the AMR burden successfully, we need to understand and identify the gaps in the surveillance systems, dynamics of bacteria, and genetic background. I find this extremely complex yet interesting. I realized this was the perfect subfield for me because it combines humans, animals, and the environment.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

As I think, winning the President’s Awards for Scientific Research for the contribution in “spread of resistant gram negatives in a Sri Lankan intensive care unit” that published in BMC Infectious Diseases 2017, Vol. 17, Art. No. 490 was my highest achievement in the field of Science.
I am lucky enough to have a very supportive family for my education, sports, and extracurricular activities. Thanks to their tremendous support and guidance, my journey was smooth that led me to BSc, MSc, and now Ph.D. to become a first-generation doctoral candidate in the immediate and extended families.
I wish younger Dulmini knew that she was a morally very strong and target-oriented female. I came to Hong Kong from Sri Lanka for my Ph.D. with my husband leaving behind our parents in Sri Lanka. With the new beginning of our lives in Hong Kong, I gave birth to a baby girl in my 3rd year of Ph.D. and my husband, who is a doctoral researcher needs much acknowledgment during this long run.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Whenever I run a new experiment, or completed the data analysis or learned something interesting and new, there is a short space of time where I take a deep breath and think to myself “I am the only person in the whole world who knows this.” That’s why I love working in STEM.

Best advice for next generation?

Strategical plan, flexibility in you, and the capability to take the risk together with consistency in hard work and passion will establish a name for yourself.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off... no matter what they say." Barbara McClintock

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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