Work Email : WSumanasekera@sullivan.edu
FIELDS OF INTEREST
Pharmacology & Toxicology; Cell and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry; Ovarian Cancer; Cardiac stem cell research; Herbal Products (Hemp, CBD) ; Scholarship of Teaching & Learning.
Dr. Sumanasekera received her B.S. from University of Colombo, Sri-Lanka. Upon migrating to the United States, she pursued two M.S. degrees at the Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky. Dr. Sumanasekera received her Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Toxicology from Pennsylvania State University in 2003. Upon graduation she did a two year post-doctoral fellowship funded by American Heart Association, in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, University of Louisville. After the AHA fellowship she worked as a Research Associate at the Institute of Molecular Cardiology, UofL. While working in Cardiology, her passion for teaching lead her to take a second appointment as term / adjunct faculty at the Dept. of Biological Sciences at UofL. She taught Biology at UofL for almost three years and cell and Molecular Biology lab at Bellarmine University in 2007.
Dr. Sumanasekera joined Sullivan University on 06-02-2008. She initiated SUCOPHS’ very first hands-on research laboratory in 2008 with equipment provided by Sullivan University and funding awarded to her via faculty development grant (august, 2008). From 2008 onwards, she has awarded many other grants, conducted several research projects at SUCOPHS laboratories and presented in national / international conferences. Dr. Sumanasekera published her SUCOPHS research in several prestigious PubMed indexed scientific journals. She has guided and given opportunities for numerous SUCOPHS students in hands-on research that lead to many state and national awards, and student co-authorships in peer- reviewed articles. In addition, she has mentored a medical student and a few DuPont manual high school student science fair research projects. For her outstanding contributions to SUCOPHS students, teaching, scholarship and service, Dr. Sumanasekera was recognized by Sullivan University System as an outstanding faculty member (2011) and a finalist for the faculty member of the year award (2019) during the annual SUS retreat.
Dr. Sumanasekera’ s most recent hemp research project has received national recognition and an award in 2018 at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) conference in SD, CA. Many organizations such as Science Daily and Medical News highlighted her research in their web sites. Based on this project, A provisional patent application was filed in 2019.
Dr. Sumanasekera has over 20 years of experience in teaching and research. At SUCOPHS, she teaches in both Pharm. D. and PA programs. She is a member of SUS Institutional Review Board. Dr. Sumanasekera serves on the board of directors for KY American Physiological Society (KY APS) from 2014 onwards. Over the years she served on AACP and APS committees. She currently serves on AACP research & graduate education committee (under Biological Sciences section) and AACP Biological Sciences mentor-mentee program.
SELECTED EXTERNAL AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
American Physiological Society Chapters Advisory Council member (2017 – present)
Chair, KY -American Physiological Society advisory committee. (2020-2023)
President, KY -American Physiological Society (2018-2019)
President, KY -American Physiological Society (2015-2016)
President- Elect, KY -American Physiological Society (2014-2015)
Grand Award Judge, INTEL International Science Fair, Pittsburgh PA (2018)
AACP Honorarium, Biological Sciences Section, speaker for the active learning session (2016)
Clinical Science and Drug Discovery, featured speaker award (2017, 2015)
Clinical Science and Drug Discovery, travel award (2017, 2015)
American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology travel award, (2018, Role : PI)
KY-APS: Mentor and Principal Investigator for 3 graduate student research poster awards (2019, 2020)
KY-APS: Mentor and Principal Investigator for meritorious oral presentation award (2015)
United States Patent (2012)
American Heart Association Fellowship (2004-2006)
Research Louisville! Engineering Collaboration Award, University of Louisville (2004)
Life Sciences Consortium Fellowship, Penn State University, PA (1999-2001)
Graduate Center for Toxicology Fellowship, University of KY (1997-1999)
International Scholar Award, Eastern KY University (1995)
Honor Scholar Award, University of Colombo, Sri-Lanka (1991)