Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences
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.
2016 Ph.D. in Chemistry Wayne State University, MI
2009 B.Sc. in Chemistry University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
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
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)
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.