For the first time, two Sri Lankan undergraduate students participated in the 2016 Summer Student Programme at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, the most prominent particle physics research institute in the world. Gamage Gihan Lakmal, a graduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Ruhuna and Malinda Shiram de Silva, a final year undergraduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo, completed their two month programme last week. The Sri Lankan students were selected on merit by CERN, following a funding arrangement negotiated by the Permanent Mission, where CERN provides financial assistance for one student and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) funds the other student, a press release issued by the Sri Lankan Mission in Geneva said yesterday.
The release said that the special programme for undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering, provides a unique experience of joining research teams and participating in experiments at CERN. It has been in operation since 1962 and had students from 104 countries participating. This year 278 students from 87 countries participated in this programme.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha noted that the participation of the two Sri Lankan students in the CERN Summer Student Programme this year is one of the tangible benefits following the formalization of relations between Sri Lanka and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) through the signing of an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) between GoSL and CERN on June 25 and the continuing engagement between CERN and the Government of Sri Lanka.
During a visit to CERN in May 2016 Minister of Science, Technology & Research, Susil Premajayantha agreed to enhance collaboration between CERN and Sri Lanka, through the development of a network of scientific community of Sri Lankan scientists and researchers, who could remain engaged with the research activity carried out by CERN.
At a recent review of the relationship between CERN and Sri Lanka with CERN’s Senior Advisor and former Head of International Relations. Dr. Rüdiger Voss, Head of Associate Member and Non-Member State Relations Prof. Emmanuel Tsesmelis, the Ambassador and the Ms. Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary of the Mission coordinating relations with CERN discussed several proposals in order to increase the number of undergraduates attending the Summer Student programme, to enable participation of Sri Lankan teachers in the CERN High School Teachers Programme, to seek the possibility of a group of Sri Lankan Scientists to visit CERN, to conduct a workshop in Sri Lanka on the topic of cooperation between Sri Lanka and CERN and also to sign an International Cooperation Agreement (ICA) between Sri Lanka and CERN by next year.