September Spotlight -Professor Nilwala Kottegoda:

Revolutionizing Chemistry and Nanohybrid Applications from Sri Lanka  

Brief Summary: Professor Nilwala Kottegoda is an eminent woman scientist in Sri Lanka who is celebrated for her revolutionary invention of urea-hydroxyapatite nanohybrids. She has enormously contributed to the advancement of inorganic and physical chemistry via the development of nanohybrids for agricultural applications, advanced nano-filter materials for water purification, and value addition to natural minerals. Professor Kottegoda is also a dedicated innovator, educationist, social advocate, and esteemed creator and disseminator of knowledge.

*******************************************************************

Professor Nilwala Kottegoda is an eminent woman scientist who is celebrated for her revolutionary invention of urea-hydroxyapatite nanohybrids. Currently, she is a professor in chemistry and the head of Sri Lanka’s largest department of chemistry at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She has enormously contributed towards the advancement of inorganic and physical chemistry via three key areas, namely the development of nanohybrids for agricultural applications, advanced nano-filter materials for water purification, and value addition to natural minerals. 

Educational Path: Professor Kottegoda exhibited exceptional merit early in her career by obtaining her first degree at the top of her class and then being selected to do her Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. Soon after completing her Ph.D., she returned to Sri Lanka to extend her services and developed a rewarding research career spanning the past 13 years. 

Career Highlight & Research: In 2009, Professor Kottegoda was hand-selected to extend her services as a leading chemistry specialist to the founding team of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology where she developed urea-hydroxyapatite slow-release nanofertilizer as a sustainable solution to elevate crop yields and minimize premature loss of urea. This invention addresses increasing agriculture production to achieve zero hunger, reducing fertilizer usage, and minimizing environmental implications of agricultural activities which are major challenges faced by the world today. She has been successful in commercializing several inventions, including this nanofertilizer, highlighting the economic importance of her developments. 

Contribution to Knowledge Sharing: Nilwala’s perpetual passion for uplifting science education and popularizing science among the general public and farmers was appreciated by the “Science Popularization Award” in 2014 from the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science. Her national services to education include, but are not limited to, acting as the Chief Editor of the school science textbooks, developing school science and chemistry curriculums with the Ministry of Education, and conducting islandwide science workshops. These activities have upgraded Sri Lankan school science education to suit the 21st century. 

Accolades: Among her many awards and honors, in 2020 Dr. Kottegoda was the first woman in Sri Lankan history to be appointed as a board member to the Board of Governors of the National Institute of Fundamental Studies. She was also the former provost at the SLINTEC Academy and denominated as one of nine inventive women featured by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2018. Her excellent commitment to the advancement of science was acclaimed by the World Academy of Science (TWAS) when she earned the Young Scientist Award in 2013. 

Nilwala Kottegoda is not just an eminent woman scientist, she is also an innovator, academic, educationist, social advocate, distinguished creator of knowledge, and committed knowledge disseminator who is dedicatedly contributing to achieving multiple United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

To learn more about Professor Kottegoda’s work: 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *