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Yamuna Kollalpitiya Joins Warren Wilson College Science Faculty

by Christian Diaz, News Editor

Even before her interview, Yamuna Kollalpitiya knew that she wanted to teach biochemistry at Warren Wilson College.

Yamuna Kollalpitiya in Pikes Peak, Colorado

Originally from Sri Lanka, Yamuna spent the last six years in Wichita, Kansas earning a PhD in biochemistry studying copper and zinc’s neurotixicity. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Peradeniya near the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka.

She said she was immediately attracted to the triad program and to the location of Warren Wilson College which is similar to the institution she attended for her undergraduate studies. The University of Paradeniya has 2000 acres of land which includes mountains and rivers and 90 percent of the student body also lives on campus.

Kollalpitiya lives on Bee Tree Road now with her husband, her only family in the United States.

Yamuna learned a lot about sustainability at Peradeniya when she was a part of a university explorer’s club whom she would get together with on the weekends to go hiking.

“I climbed all the big mountains in Sri Lanka so I thought it would be a great opportunity,” she said. “Sri Lanka is very polluted in some places. There are many more rules here [that help protect the environment].”

As a Buddhist, Kollapitiya is interested in participating in the student buddhist group, Be. She was impressed by the dialogue that took place at the community meeting surrounding religious tolerance on campus.

“One of the questions they asked us is what [the administration] can do to support interfaith tolerance on campus, but I don’t feel any negativity from students or faculty,” Kollalpitiya said.

“I feel that if you are different that is an advantage in this school. I’ve made a lot of friends here because I’m from Sri Lanka and I’m Buddhist,” she said. “People want to know about different cultures. When I was in graduate school nobody cared about my religion or where I’m from. The more unique you are here the better.”


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