Dr. Darshani Kumaragamage

Work hard and be focused on your goals.

Professor and Department Chair, Environmental Studies
University of Winnipeg

I have a BSc honors degree in Agriculture and a MPhil degree from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. I came to Canada in 1986 as a Commonwealth scholar to pursue a PhD degree in soil Science attached to the University of Manitoba. After successful completion of my PhD degree in soil physical chemistry, I returned to Sri Lanka in 1991 and resumed duties as a senior Lecturer in Soil Science attached to the department of Soil Science, University of Peradeniya. I worked in the same department for 15 years as an Associate Professor and Professor in Soil Science. In 2005, I returned to Canada and worked as a Research Associate at the University of Manitoba until 2009 and then joined the University of Winnipeg, as an Associate professor and the Director in Environmental Studies Program. In 2012, when the new Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences was formed at the University of Winnipeg, I became the Department Chair. I teach courses in Human Environmental Interactions, Environmental Soil Science and Impacts of Agriculture on the Environment. My research mainly focuses on sustainable nutrient management in crop production.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

Teaching

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

My research mostly focuses on reducing pollution from agricultural activities, with emphasis on nutrient pollution due to fertilizer and manure application. It is exciting since I can use my knowledge on soil physical chemistry and hydrology in finding solutions to mitigate environmental pollution from fertilizer and manure use in crop production.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Scientists, consultants.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

Yes. My workplace is male-dominated, but so far it did not affect me professionally or personally.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

Working in a downtown university, my workplace has a rich diversity in students, faculty and staff. I have encouraged students from various ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds to work with me on my research projects.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

Providing incentives (scholarships, daycare facilities) would be a good way to help girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Work hard and be focused on your goals.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

I did not really have a role model or a mentor, since at the time I did my graduate studies, there was no female professor in the department.