Dr. Wajira Balasooriya
Wajira Balasooriya graduated with Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honors) from University of Peradeniya in 1999. She gained early work experience as a Teaching assistant at University of Peradeniya and Wayamba University of Sri Lanka during 2000-2002. She obtained MSc in Agriculture (University of Peradeniya) in 2003 and MSc in Environmental Sanitation (Ghent University, Belgium) in 2006. During 2006-2008 she worked as a research scientist at the Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management at Ghent University commencing her doctoral research. In 2008, she received the Ghent University scholarship to continue doctoral studies at the Isotope Bioscience Laboratory. She obtained PhD in Applied Biological Sciences in 2011 and her thesis titled variation of soil microbial community structure along ecohydrological gradients.
After PhD, Dr. Balasooriya worked as a NSF research scientist at the Department of Soil Science in University of Peradeniya where she engaged in a research project on proximal soil sensing based site-specific soil management in paddy soils. From 2014, she re-joined the Waymaba University as a senior lecturer at the Department of Biotechnology. In addition, she serves as a visiting lecturer in Board of study soil science at the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya. She received post-doctoral research training at the Biology Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA in 2015.
- Soil microbial ecology and microbial communities
- Wetland and paddy soils
- Sustainable soil management
- Environmental Biotechnology
- Ghent University PhD Scholarship (competitive) in 2008
- Ghent University MSc Scholarship (competitive) in 2005
- Best Poster Award: 20th World Congress of Soil Science 20WCSS
Postgraduate supervision :
Ms. B. Suganthan - M.Sc. in Applied Microbiology (University of Kelaniya) - completedThesis: Morphological and Molecular Identification of culturable Cyanobacteria from Paddy Soils
- Ongoing Supervision – M.Phil and M.Sc. students in Soil Science (PGIA, University of Peradeniya)
- Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya (Teaching panel member)
- Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka Association for Improving Higher Education Effectiveness (SLAIHEE)
- European Geosciences Union
- Benelux Association for Stable Isotope Scientists (BASIS)
- Biotechnology Society, WUSL (Senior Treasurer – 2014/2015)
- Co-Investigator – Target Oriented Multidisciplinary Research Grant by the National Research Council of Sri Lanka on “Development of eco-friendly farming technologies to minimize inorganic fertilizer usage while maintaining adequate productivity and improving soil fertility" (2017 – 2022)
- Collaborating Scientist – Research grant by the Council for Agricultural Research and Development, Sri Lanka on “"Development of detailed spatial inventory of soil phosphorus and organic carbon stocks at sub – catchment scale" (2016 – 2018)
- Responsible Officer – Research Equipment Grant by the National Science Foundation (RG/2015/EQ/17): -800C Ultra low Temperature Freezer (2015)
- Principle Investigator –University Research Grant by the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka (SRHDC/RP/04/15) on “Cyanobacterial diversity of paddy soils of Sri Lanka” (2015-2017)
- Research Scientist – Research grant by the National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka (RG/2012/AG/07) on “Use of electromagnetic induction based proximal soil sensing to support site-specific soil management in the intermediate zone” (2012 – 2014)
Selected Research Publications:
- Balasooriya, W.K.,2011. Variation of soil microbial community structure and activity along ecohydrological gradients, PhD thesis, Ghent University, Belgium. ISBN: 9789059894860
- Balasooriya, W.K., Huygens, D., Rajapaksha, R.M.C.P. and Boeckx P., 2016. Effect of rice variety and fertilizer type on the active microbial community structure in tropical paddy fields in Sri Lanka. Geoderma, 216, 87-95.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Denef, K., Huygens, D., and Boeckx P., 2014. Translocation and turnover of rhizodeposit carbon within soil microbial communities of an extensive grassland ecosystem. Plant and Soil, 376 (1-2), 61-73.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Huygens, D., Denef, K., Roobroeck, D., Verhoest, N.E.C., and Boeckx P., 2013. Temporal variation of rhizodeposit-C assimilating microbial communities in a natural wetland, Biology and Fertility of Soils, 49, 333-341.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Denef, K., Peters, J., Verhoest, N.E.C., and Boeckx P., 2008. Vegetation composition and soil microbial community structural changes along a wetland hydrological gradient, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 12, 277-291.
- Peters J., Samson, R., Boeckx, P., Balasooriya, W. K., Verhoest, N.E.C., 2009. Hydrological and Vegetation analysis of an alluvial floodplain in Belgium, Belgian Journal of Botany, 142(1), 19-38.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Samson, R., Mbikwa, F., Vitharana, W.A.U., Boeckx, P., and Van Meirvenne, M., 2009. Anatomical and chemical changes in plant foliage for biomonitoring of urban air pollution. Environmental and experimental botany, 65, 386-394.
- Thilakarathna, E.M.S.K., Vitharana, W.A.U, Indraratne, S.P., Verdoodt, A., Van Meirvenne, M., Saey, T. and Balasooriya, W.K., (2014). Identification of potential fertilizer management zones based on the spatial variability of surface soil pH in a vegetable field, Sri Lanka. Pp 85.Proceedings of the 1st RuhunaInternational Science and Technology Conference. January 22nd – 23rd 2014. University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka.
- R. A. A. S. Rathnayaka, U. W. A.Vitharana, B. L.W. K. Balasooriya, E. M. S. K. Thilakarathna, A. Verdoodt, T. Saey M. Van Meirvenne 2014. Detailed mapping of soil texture using proximally sensed apparent electrical conductivity. Proceeding of the University of Peradeniya International Research Sessions. Vol 18. Pp 453
- Thilakarathna, E.M.S.K.,Vitharana, W.A.U,. Verdoodt, A., Van Meirvenne, M., Saey, T. and Balasooriya, W.K., (2014). Exploring the potential of the DUALEM-1S soil sensor to predict soil quality indicators. Pp 65. Proceedings of the International Conference of Agricultural Sciences. January 9th-10th 2014. Sabaragamuwa University, Sri Lanka.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Rajapaksha R.M.C.P., and Boeckx, P., Variation of soil microbial community structure and rhizodeposit carbon assimilation in paddy fields. 4th International congress EUROSOIL 2012: Soil Science for the Benefit of Mankind and Environment. Bari, Italy, 2nd-6th July 2012.
- Huygens, D., Stalens J., Bode, S., Roobroeck, D., Balasooriya, B.L.W.K., and Boeckx P. Molecular Isotope signals to study terrestrial carbon fluxes in a changing environment. Stable Isotopes and biogeochemical cycles in terrestrial ecosystems conference, Ascona, Switzerland, 21st -26th March 2010.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Roobroeck, D., Denef, K., Peters, J., Verhoest, N.E.C., and Boeckx, P., Seasonal variation of the abundance and carbon assimilation activity of rhizosphere soil microbial communities in a temporal wetland. BIOGEOMON 2009-The 6th International symposium on ecosystem behaviour, Helsinki, Finland, June 29th ¯ July 3rd 2009 (Session 10: Microbial/rhizosphere dynamics).
- Balasooriya W.K., Denef K., Peters, J., Verhoest, N.E.C., and Boeckx, P., Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) based SIP to identify microbial community structural changes along a wetland hydrological gradient, Benelux Association for Stable Isotope Scientists (BASIS), Annual Meeting 2008, Arnhem, The Netherlands, April 3-4 2008.
- Balasooriya, W.K., Kader, F., and Samson R., Anatomical and chemical changes in plant foliage for biomonitoring of urban air pollution. Study day on “Starters of the Nature Research” by Inverde, Brussels, Belgium, March 20, 2008.
- Eeswara, J.P., and Balasooriya, W.K., 2000. Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) and its Economic Significance in Sri Lanka. Proceedings of the Tenth National Workshop on Multipurpose Trees, Ed. Gunasena, H.P.M., 118-140.
- U. W.A.Vitharana, E.M.S.K.Thilakarathna, W.K. Balasooriya, A. Verdoodt, T. Saey and M. Van Meirvenne, Potential of soil proximal sensing for mapping of key soil features of an Alfisol in Sri Lanka. 20th World Congress of Soil Science 20WCSS. Jeju, South Korea, 8-13 June 2014.
- W.K. Balasooriya,U. W.A.Vitharana, E.M.S.K.Thilakarathna, A. Verdoodt, T. Saeyand M. Van Meirvenne. Apparent Electrical Conductivity (ECa) based potential management zones for site specific nutrient management in paddy soils of Sri Lanka. 20th World Congress of Soil Science 20WCSS. Jeju, South Korea, 8-13 June 2014. (Best Poster Award)
- Balasooriya, W.K., Rajapaksha R.M.C.P., and Boeckx, P., Soil microbial community structure and rhizodeposit carbon assimilation vary with rice variety and type of nutrient input. ESAFS 2011- 10thinternational conference of the East and South Asia Federation of Soil Science Societies, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 10th to 13th October 2011.
- Balasooriya W.K., Denef K., Peters, J., Verhoest, N.E.C., and Boeckx, P., Hydrological control on vegetation composition and soil microbial community structure in a temporary wetland (Ghent, Belgium), European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2008, Vienna Austria, April 13-18, 2008. (Session HS7.3: Wetland ecohydrology: interactions and feedbacks between water table, soil moisture and vegetation).
Undergraduate Student's Research Symposium
- Wickramanayake, W.P.K.K., Balasooriya, W.K., Rajapaksha, R.W.P.M., Vivehananthan K., and Vitharana, U.W.A. 2014. Investigating Soil Microbial Properties in Potential Management Zones of Paddy fields in the intermediate zone of Sri Lanka. Full paper, Proceedings of the 13th Agricultural Research Symposium, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka.
- Tharindi, P.W.M., Balasooriya, W.K., Suganthan, B. And Vivehananthan K. 2016. Isolation and Identification of Culturable Cyanobacteria from Paddy Soils of the Intermediate Zone. Full paper, Proceedings of the 15th Agricultural Research Symposium, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka.
- Member/ Editorial committee for Biotechnology Society Newsletter, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, (2014, 2016)
- Member/ Editorial committee - Wayamba International Conference, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka (2014)
- Reviewer for International Journals; Geoderma, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Ecological Indicators, Journal of Cleaner Production (from 2014 onwards)
- Reviewer for Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka (from 2015 onwards)
- Reviewer for Proceedings of the Wayamba International Conference, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka (from 2014 onwards)
- Reviewer for Proceedings of the Agricultural Research Symposium, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka (from 2014 onwards)
- Reviewer for Proceedings of the Research Congress, Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (2016)
- Reviewer for Proceedings of the Symposium on Plantation Crop Research, Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka (2016)