Pavithra Pathirathna

Assistant Professor | Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences

Contact Information

Personal Overview

Pavithra Pathirathna performed her undergraduate studies at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry at Wayne State University, MI, with Dr. Parastoo Hashemi in 2016. She then continued her postdoctoral work with Dr. Shigeru Amemiya in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. Pavithra joined the Chemistry Program at the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2019.

Educational Background

2016 - Ph.D. in Chemistry - Wayne State University, MI                                      

2009 - B.Sc. in Chemistry - University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Professional Experience

Aug 2019 - Present
Assistant Professor - Florida Institute of Technology, FL

Nov 2016 - April 2019
Postdoctoral Associate - University of Pittsburgh, PA (Supervisor: Dr. Shigeru Amemiya)

Apr 2016 - Oct 2016
Postdoctoral Fellow - University of South Carolina, SC (Supervisor: Dr. Parastoo Hashemi)

Selected Publications

  1. Pathirathna, P.; Balla, R.J.; Meng, G.; Wei, Z.; Amemiya, S.: Nanoscale Electrostatic Gating of Molecular Transport through Nuclear Pore Complexes as Probed by Electrochemical Microscopy,Chemical Science, 2019, 10, 7929-7936.
  2. Pathirathna, P.; Balla, R.J.; Kurpathi, N.; Gramn, E.; Jantz, D.T.; Leonard, K.C; Amemiya, S.: Probing High Permeability of Nuclear Pore Complexes by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy: Ca2+ Effects on Transport Barriors, Analytical Chemistry, 2019, 91, 5446–5454.
  3. Holmes, J.; Pathirathna, P.; Hashemi, P.: Novel Frontiers in Voltammetric Trace Metal Analysis: Towards Real Time, On-Site, In Situ Measurements, Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 2019, 111, 206-209.
  4. Kurpathi, N.; Pathirathna, P.; Chen, R; Amemiya, S.: Voltammetric Measurement of Adsorption Isotherm for Ferrocene Derivatives on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite, Analytical Chemistry, 2018, 90, 13672-13679.
  5. Pathirathna, P.; Balla, R.J.; Amemiya, S.: Nanogap-Based Electrochemical Measurements at Double-Carbon-Fiber Ultramicroelectrodes, Analytical Chemistry 2018, 90, 11746–11750.
  6. Siriwardhane, T.; Yangguang Ou.; Pathirathna, P.; Hashemi, P.: Rapid Analysis of Electrochemically Elusive Trace Metals with Carbon Fiber Microelectrodes, Analytical Chemistry, 2018, 90, 11917–11924.
  7. Pathirathna, P.; Balla, R.; Amemiya, S.:Simulation of Fast-Scan Nanogap Voltammetry of Double-cylinder Ultramicroelectrodes, Journal of the Electrochemistry Society, 2018, 165, G3026-G3032.
  8. Abdalla, A.; Atcherley, C. W.; Pathirathna, P.; Samaranayake, S.; Qiang, B.; Peña, E.; Morgan, S. L.; Heien, M. L.; Hashemi, P: In Vivo Ambient Serotonin Measurements at Carbon-fiber Microelectrodes, Analytical Chemistry, 2017, 89, 9703-9711.
  9. Pathirathna, P.; Siriwardhane, T.; McElmurry, S. P.; Morgan, S.L.; Hashemi, P.: Fast voltammetry of metals at carbon-fiber microelectrodes: towards a real time speciation sensor, The Analyst, 2016, 141, 6432-6437.
  10. Pathirathna, P.; Siriwardhane, T.; Morgan, S. L.; McElmurry, S. P.; Hashemi, P.: Fast voltammetry of metals at carbon-fiber microelectrodes: ultra rapid determination of solution formation constants, The Analyst, 2016, 141, 6025-6030.
  11. Siriwardhane, T.; Sulkanen, A.; Pathirathna, P.; Tremonti, A.; McElmurry, S. P.; Hashemi, P.: Voltammetric characterization of Cu (II) complexation in real-time, Analytical Chemisty, 2016, 88, 7603-7608.

Recognition & Awards

2016 - Honor Citation for Teaching Service in Chemistry, Wayne State University, MI

2015 - Best graduate student oral presentation, ANACHEM/SAS Detroit Section Symposium, Livonia, MI

2015 - Esther and Stanley Kirschner General Chemistry Teaching Award (Best General Chemistry Teaching Assistant), Wayne State University, MI

2014 - Honor Citation for Teaching Service in Chemistry, Wayne State University, MI

2013 - Graduate Student Professional Travel Award, Wayne State University, MI

2012 - Paul and Carol C. Schaap Endowed Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship, Wayne State University, MI


We are a multifaceted research team that develops smart, portable, fast, simple, and inexpensive sensors to probe exquisite, and complex systems (in-vivo& in-vitro). In particular, we are interested in designing and developing sensors that can be used at point-of-care (POC) to detect ingested toxic metals in blood and urine samples, in addition to in-vivo sensing. The detrimental effects of toxic metals such as arsenic, lead, and cadmium poisoning are well documented. POC detection of these metals in the clinic or direct detection inside the body remains challenging due to limited selectivity, inadequate sensitivity, and instability of the sensing component with existing analytical methods. These novel sensors will be developed using cutting-edge electrochemical technology at the liquid-liquid interface. The qualitative and quantitative speciation information that we will obtain with our novel sensors will provide a greater mechanistic understanding of the fate of ingested heavy metals in the body, leading directly to improvements in existing disease diagnostics, treatment, and preventative strategies for metal toxicity.

We are also interested in developing carbon fiber microelectrodes with multi-element sensing components to simultaneously monitor two or more substances/neurotransmitters at a single location via fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. These unique sensors will allow us to understand neurotransmitter interactions at a specific area of the brain.

Research and Project Interests

  • Efficient and disposable point-of-care sensors to detect ingested toxic heavy metals in blood and urine samples
  • Implantable sensors for monitoring dynamic changes in metal concentrations in kidney
  • Microelectrodes with multiple sensing elements for simultaneous neurotransmitter detection
  • Engineering of fast, portable, low-coast, multi-channel potentiostat