The Sri Lankan Academy of Young Scientists (SLAYS) successfully held their Third Annual International Conference in October 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Considered the largest conference among early to mid-career scientists from academia and industry as well as postgraduate research students in Sri Lanka, the SLAYS Conference provides a common platform that unifies young scientists from all corners of the country.

The Conference’s continued theme from previous years centered around ‘Research for Impact: March of the Sri Lankan Young Scientists’, while this year’s specific conference topic was ‘Promoting Impactful Research for Young Sri Lankan Scientists’.

Sessions and panel discussions highlighted the greater cause and commitment of the young scientist community towards pursuing research that leads to impactful outcomes – creating new knowledge, economic gains and improving society. According to the President of SLAYS, Dr Chamindri Witharana, who organized this year’s conference along with her team, ‘We want to empower young researchers by promoting research, sharing best approaches for impactful research and providing networking opportunities’.

Dr Sahal Yacoob, former co-chair of the South African Young Academy of Science, delivered the keynote, breaking down the complex world of particle physics, and discussed challenges that developing countries face with research, emphasizing the responsibility that scientists bear to create impact in their own countries.

3MT Grand Finale Competition and Awards

The SLAYS conference also hosted the highly anticipated grand finale of the “3 minute thesis presentation competition-3MT®” for MPhil/PhD students. Conducted under the guidance of the University of Queensland, Australia, who are the innovator and developer of the 3MT®, SLAYS successfully hosted this competition for the third consecutive time in Sri Lanka. Ten finalists had been shortlisted during preliminary rounds; they now had to present their thesis work in just three minutes.

Ms Sathya Sambavathas from the University of Jaffna emerged as the winner for her research on ‘Sri Lankan Spices for Alzheimer’s’. She will also have the opportunity to represent Sri Lanka at the next Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition. The first runner up was Ms Gayani Imanthika Dias (Sabaragamuwa University), while Ms Chathurika Munasinghe (University of Peradeniya) was the second runner up. The People’s Choice award, sponsored by Hayleys Aventura went to Ms Hemavaruni Nisansala Fernando (University of Jayewardenepura) who showcased her work on ‘Antimicrobial Activity of Garcinol Mediated Metal Nanoparticles and Metal Complexes’.

SLAYS was sponsored by Hayleys Lifesciences; Biomedite, supplier of innovative medical devices, analytical equipment and life sciences products;  Twinery by MAS, Orange and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB). These affiliations with industry will ensure getting research into practice with impactful gains for society and the economy. In addition, NSF (National Science Foundation) awarded SLAYS the International Partnerships for Science and Technology (IPSAT) grant.