Indira SamarasekeraIndira Samarasekera was born in Sri Lanka and received a BSc Honours in mechanical engineering from the University of Ceylon in 1974. As a Hayes Fulbright Scholar, she earned an MSc from the University of California in 1976, and, in 1980, she was granted a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia.
Samarasekera began her career at the University of British Columbia as a professor in the Department of Materials Engineering. Using her knowledge of heat transfer and stress analysis, she researched new processes of steel production involving a major emphasis on continuous casting and hot rolling. Samarasekera has also consulted for companies around the world. Prior to coming to the University of Alberta, Samarasekera served as Vice-President Research at the University of British Columbia for five years.
On July 1, 2005, Indira Samarasekera was appointed President of the University of Alberta. She has since led the development of Dare to Discover: A Vision for a Great University, a seminal document that will act as the guiding force in the University’s quest to become one of the top 20 public universities in the world by 2020.
Samarasekera is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIMM). She is also active within her scholarly field and is a member of numerous technical societies. Samarasekera was the first woman to be President of the Metallurgical Society of CIMM.
Dr Samarasekera is also kept busy outside of the University of Alberta. Her numerous activities include being a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Public Service and sitting on the Conference Board of Canada. She is also involved with the Public Policy Forum of Canada, the Canadian Health Industries Partnership, the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, and the Visiting Committee for MIT.
Her international experiences, and especially her deep ties to Sri Lanka, have shaped Samarasekera’s view of the world and strengthened her humanitarian consciousness. She is passionate about eradicating violence and promoting equality, and strongly believes in the value of education as a means of achieving prosperity and well being.
Her numerous awards include prizes for research excellence and an honorary degree from the University of British Columbia. In 2002, Samarasekera was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002. Samarasekera enjoys spending time with her two children and attending theatre, opera, and symphony events.