On the 15 of January 2024, about a hundred students (including Sri Lankan students) of the iChem Academy, an institute that is well known for excellence in teaching Chemistry in Melbourne, attended the University of Melbourne for a whole-day program hosted by the School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne, Australia. Prof. Muthupandian Ashokkumar, (Deputy Vice-Chancellor International & Head of School of Chemistry of the University of Melbourne) coordinated the programme on behalf of the University. The directress and the sole Lecturer of the iChem Academy, Dr Leena Devendra Dharmarathne (daughter of late Mrs Mallika Devendra & late Mr Madurarama Devendra), a past student of St. Mary’s Convent, Matara, Sri Lanka, has conferred her Doctorate (PhD) in Chemistry from the University of Melbourne in 2013. Dr Leena organised the entire event under the guidance of Prof. Ashokkumar.
Prof. Ashokkumar welcomed the students at a function held at the Masson Theatre of the School of Chemistry. During the function, several students also got an opportunity to deliver speeches. The Year 10, 11 & 12 Students who attended the program were from leading schools throughout Victoria, Australia. The purpose of the visit and the program was to establish a platform between the iChem Academy students and the University of Melbourne regarding Science, Medicine & Biomedicine academic pathways and showcase the University facilities and environment. The program was a rare opportunity for students to visit the University of Melbourne and to gain access to the facilities. The event was considered the first time that the University of Melbourne has hosted above specified number of students from a private academic institute that is managed and the lessons are conducted by a sole female Lecturer. The students visited the teaching laboratories of the School of Chemistry, BIO21 Institute, and the Faculty of Medicine. The entire program and activities made a significant impact on them and the students were impressed by the world-class research facilities of the University of Melbourne. One of the important outcomes of the program was that students have gained a deeper understanding of how essential learning Chemistry is for their future Academia. The Parents who attended were delighted with the staff’s warm welcome and professional yet friendly gesture. They have developed a great respect towards the University and were very thankful for this rare opportunity for their children. Based on the positive feedback, Dr. Leena intends to organize with the University of Melbourne to conduct the program annually. Dr Leena expresses heartfelt thanks to her husband Mr Kosala Dharmarathne (son of Mrs Srimathi Dharmaratne & Mr Widana Gamage Dharmaratne of W. G. Dharmaratne Jewellers Pvt Limited) and her son Yenul Dharmarathne for their unconditional love and support in everything she does.