University of Nebraska Medical Center

Nirosha Rathnayake

Nirosha Rathnayake

Student Highlight: Nirosha Rathnayake

Hometown: Kandy, Sri Lanka

Degree and concentration: Ph.D. Biostatistics

What brought you to the field of public health?
I grew up in a farming family. My parents helped to provide me with opportunities that allowed me to work outside the farm environment, opening my eyes to many other careers. Since childhood, my brother has been my role model. Watching his path and with his encouragement, I started exploring the world of mathematics and science. I dedicated myself and worked hard to get selected to an engineering college. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in engineering, specializing in mathematics. I then earned my Master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

I wanted to apply my knowledge of mathematics to the field of public health. My thesis supervisor, Dr. Steven From at UNO, introduced me to the relationship between reliability theory analysis and survival analysis. I became interested in learning more about estimating disease survival time, and the relationship between mathematics and statistics related to public health issues. I soon realized the importance of applying my academic knowledge to public health concerns. I decided to pursue a PhD in biostatistics, with the goal of sharing my knowledge and providing service as a public health professional. I am also grateful to my husband for encouraging and supporting me as I continue my studies and raise two amazing children.

What do you like most about the COPH?  I really value the diversity in the COPH and the opportunity to interact with people and learn about their culture.

What are your career goals after graduation? I am interested in continuing my career as a biostatistician, statistician, or data scientist.

Three things people may not know about you.

  • When I was ten years old, I often climbed trees when my parents were not around. I was badly injured when I fell from three trees; my dad freaked out and cut all of the branches within my reach.
  • I can ride motorbikes
  • I do not like to play video games

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