Celebrating the graduates of Fall 2021: Asha Wijerathna

Meet some of the amazing members of the graduating class of Fall 2021 from the Faculty of Science.

Andrew Lyle - 17 November 2021

This week, Asha Wijerathna graduates with a PhD in ecology from the Department of Biological Sciences.

Meet Asha Wijerathna, member of the class of Fall 2021 graduating with a PhD in ecology from the Department of Biological Sciences.

This year, the University of Alberta is celebrating the achievements of our graduates with a virtual convocation ceremony on November 19. As we acknowledge the achievements of our graduating class, we’re sharing just a few of the amazing stories of our graduates.

This week, Asha Wijerathna graduates with a PhD in ecology from the Department of Biological Sciences. Hear from her on growing as a researcher, the power of great mentors, and encouraging fellow students to maintain work-life balance as they travel through their own academic journeys.

Congratulations, Asha! 

What led you to pick the University of Alberta for your studies?

As an international student, I had the opportunity to explore many different options when applying for graduate school. I picked the U of A because I found faculty who conducted research that I was interested in. Another major consideration was guaranteed funding during the graduate program through teaching assistantships.

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

I am grateful that I was able to grow not only in research but as a person during my time at the Faculty of Science. I met mentors who are great researchers and wonderful teachers. Their incredible support and encouragement helped me to succeed as a graduate student and in my life. I had many opportunities to share my research locally and internationally. I was also fortunate to learn and gain experience from other incredible fellow researchers. I am thankful for all the amazing people that I met and for the positive and challenging experiences that pushed me forward.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at the U of A?

This is hard to choose because there were a lot. My first international conference was one to remember. I won the prize for the second-best poster for my session. 

What advice do you have for current and future students in the Faculty of Science?

My advice to current and the future student would be to maintain a work-life balance. Embrace every achievement by giving a little treat to yourself. Take time to process failures. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of services provided by the university to help you through difficult times.

How have you spent your time during COVID-19 distancing?

It was a challenging time because I had to finish writing my thesis. When I was not writing, I took walks in the river valley and did gardening on the balcony. I was fortunate to have very supportive lab mates and friends. Meeting with them virtually for a small chat or a quick yoga session helped me to keep motivated. 

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

I am planning to spend time with my family and friends and share a meal with them.

What's next after graduation?

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow and I am planning to explore my career options while engaging in research.