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This is ag: Researcher is always seeking collaborative project and opportunities for students

From a young age, Dr. Nandika Bandara says he knew he wanted to be involved in agriculture. He says his favourite part of working at Dal AC is interacting with students. NICK PEARCE PHOTO
From a young age, Dr. Nandika Bandara says he knew he wanted to be involved in agriculture. He says his favourite part of working at Dal AC is interacting with students. NICK PEARCE PHOTO - Contributed

By Emma Geldart

BIBLE HILL, N.S. —

Dr. Nandika Bandara attributes his academic success to finding the perfect balance. 
With numerous degrees and research work with various universities, he admits he wasn't always as interested in academia as one might expect.  
"When I was in my undergrad, I played for a couple of sports on university teams and involved with several extra-curricular activities including student unions, debating, announcing," Nandika explains. 
Originally from Sri Lanka, Nandika studied at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture, specializing in food science and technology. Following completion of his undergrad, he worked in the industry for a number of years before moving to Canada to pursue graduate studies in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta.
After completing his Master's, Nandika again continued with his academics to pursue a PhD in food science and bio-resource technology at the University of Alberta. Following that, he conducted his postdoctoral research at University of Alberta. It was then he made the move east to the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph after receiving a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) postdoctoral research scholarship. In September 2018, Nandika joined the Department of Plant, Food and Environmental Sciences as an assistant professor in food bioscience.
From a young age, Nandika knew he wanted to be involved in agriculture. After attending an agriculture exhibition with his cousin, Nandika realized his passion for agriculture.
Nandika began his agricultural studies with food science, then moving to chemistry and then, finally, studies the materials science and nanotechnology. Today, Nandika is a food and material scientist with a wide range of research experience. His research is focused around food and macromolecular chemistry, a type of chemistry that looks at large food molecules like proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. He also studies nanotechnology, or the manipulation of matter at a nanoscale and supramolecular scale. Finally, he specializes in studying biomimetics and renewable polymer applications or the study of natural and living systems to mimic their functions for the purpose of solving complex human problems.
"I currently have few key areas of research," Nandika explains. "The first is the integration of nanotechnology and material science for improving therapeutic efficacy and bioavailability of bioactive/drug molecules. I am also interested in the value addition to agriculture and food industry byproducts and waste materials."
Nandika is seeking funding and collaboration opportunities.
He recently received a grant valued at $250,000. The New Frontiers in Research Fund - Exploration from Tri-Council Institutional Program Secretariat (TIPS) is a highly competitive award with less than nine per cent success rate. To date, Nandika is the only successful applicant from Dal AC. He was also recently awarded the Vice-President Research and Innovation International Seed Fund (valued at $5,000). This is an internal Dalhousie competition he received for a collaborative project with University of Melbourne. Funding grants will allow Nandika to accept students studying a Master's degree to work alongside him. It also allows him to further his research and collaborate with other universities.
Along with his extensive research in food chemistry and material science areas, Nandika is responsible for teaching graduate and undergraduate students in food bioscience. 
"My favourite part about working at Dal AC is interacting with the students," Nandika explains. "I take pride in helping the students' progress their research and helping them discover their paths. For them to succeed, they have to find that balance."

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