UAPB has a new Professor of Agricultural Engineering

Anura Rathnayake has been appointed assistant professor of agricultural engineering at the University of Arkansas in the Department of Agriculture at Pine Bluff.

In addition to teaching courses in energy and agricultural production machinery and systems, Rathnayake is responsible for challenging UAPB agricultural majors to design, develop and improve the next generation of agricultural equipment, machinery and mechanics, construction equipment, powertrains and hydraulics, according to a press release.

He will be expected to participate in curriculum development, student advising, internship supervision, industry collaboration, student recruitment, assessment, and the development and delivery industry training programs. Additionally, he will seek out grant opportunities and participate in campus governance and community engagement opportunities.

Besides regular academic activities, Rathnayake will engage in research and extension programs in agricultural technology, especially for smallholders and minorities in the southern region.

Rathnayake joins UAPB with 18 years of teaching and research experience in agricultural, mechanical and manufacturing engineering. Most recently, he worked as a research associate at the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Washington State University in Prosser, Washington. In 2016, he began working at the same institute as a Fulbright visiting scholar and adjunct faculty member, the statement said.

His research at Washington State University has focused on precision agriculture projects, including the integration and evaluation of spray systems, variable rate spray technology, alternative approaches to pest control, pesticide spray drift measurements and mitigation technologies.

From 2016 to 2017, he was a Visiting Scholar at the School of Mechanical, Medical and Process Engineering at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, where he worked on digital image correlation methods for the analysis of the thermoelastic stresses of composite materials. He worked for more than 10 years as a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Ruhuna University in Galle, Sri Lanka, where he headed the department for more than four years.

Rathnayake graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical/Industrial Engineering from the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka. In 2007, he earned a PhD in Optical Sensing from Saitama University in Saitama, Japan. His doctoral research focused on the application of a new optical sensing technique (statistical interferometry) to monitor plant growth dynamics in real time at the nanoscale.

He is the author of several journal articles, publications, and print and online presentations. His honors include the Fulbright Advanced Research and Lecturing Award from the United States Department of State, the Endeavor Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Department of Education and Training in Australia, the IMechE Educational Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK and the Presidential Research Award. for scientific publications by the Presidential Secretariat and the National Research Council of Sri Lanka. He also received a Japanese government scholarship for his doctoral studies and an Asian Development Bank scholarship for his graduate studies.

Rathnayake has been certified as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK and the Institution of Engineers in Sri Lanka. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Amalia H. Mercado