AYS Finalist: Nimesha Fernando

Apr 25
AYS Finalist: Nimesha Fernando Nimesha Fernando

It was early morning on the 11th of December 2012 when I opened my student portal. I noticed an email from one of my supervisors about a paper competition. “Yes it is a good idea” I thought. I was eager to read if I was eligible or not and double clicked on the link provided. I discovered that I was eligible, but what bad timing; the research paper had to be submitted before the 31st of December, exactly 20 more days to write a paper.

I thought I would give it a try as I was halfway through one of my school paper assignments. I registered for the competition on the same day. For several days I worked hard to finish the paper, and passed it on to my supervisors for their suggestions and approval for submission to the competition. Again, it was a bad time to ask for feedback for a paper as most were away on Christmas holidays. Bad luck!!

I thought this competition was not meant for me and was close to giving up. At that time, I was on maternity leave and my little one was just ten weeks old. Suddenly, I remembered a paper that I had worked on before the delivery. It was very close to being ready for submission to a journal but, because I went into labor earlier than expected I was unable to submit it. I decided to edit that paper according to the rules of the competition since only papers that have not yet been submitted for publication are allowed. Having a ten week old baby means sleep deprivation, which makes it difficult to pay attention and to write a completely new paper. My interest in the competition drove me to shorten and fine tune the paper I had on hand, according to the rules of the competition. Fortunately, I was able to get approval from my supervisors for submission. On the last day to submit, the 31st of December, at the last moment, I was able to upload the paper to the competition web site. The time difference between Australia and America is almost 18 hours, which was an advantage for me.

I returned from leave officially in early January and continued to work hard on my PhD. I wanted to use the advantage of having my Mum with me. My Mum had been here with me since two weeks prior to the delivery of my little one and had plans to go back home in early April so I was trying to write as much of my thesis as possible before she left. My thesis and the little one kept me so busy I had completely forgotten about the competition.

As usual, I came into my write up room, at the University on the 19th of March and opened my student portal. I had received an email from Julie Campbell, the Global Coordinator of the Alltech Young Scientist team, congratulating me on being a potential finalist in the Alltech Young Scientist competition and asking me to confirm my eligibility, before announcing my placement.

I was so happy and re-read the criteria and let her know that I was indeed eligible to win. But, I did not get my hopes up of gaining an award. On the 22nd of March, I received another email from Julie, congratulating me on being named the Asia-Pacific regional winner.

I was so excited! I could not stop my tears, remembering how much hard work I had put into the paper. Yes, I was on the moon for a couple of hours. I am glad that my hard work was appreciated in such a brilliant way. I am so excited to compete for the global graduate title in May, as well as being so sad to be away from my baby for about 10 days. Yes, I am waiting to see you all in Kentucky!

- Nimesha Fernando

Alltech Young Scientist Featured Posts
This is a featured post from an Alltech Young Scientist Finalist who will be traveling to Symposium in May to present their work. To learn more about the Alltech Young Scientist Competition, please visit the AYS page.

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