MolSSI Software Fellow: Geemi Wellawatte

Geemi Wellawatte, one of our current 2020 COVID-19 Seed Fellows, is currently a PhD candidate in computational chemistry at the University of Rochester under the direction of Prof. Andrew White.  She is working with MolSSI Software Scientist Dr. Eliseo Marin-Rimoldi on the development of an automated, complete coarse-grained simulation model.

How did you first become interested in molecular science?

My first day at the “Introduction to computational chemistry” class showed a recording of a water simulation. I was so fascinated by it because it was a “cleaner” way to look at molecules. That fascination hasn’t left me yet!

How are you benefitting from being a MolSSI Software Fellow?

Being a MolSSI software fellow has given me confidence in my work and most importantly provided recognition in my research field in addition to the resources I received. I believe this is definitely a prestigious opportunity.

Describe your engagement with your MolSSI Software Scientist mentor.

I believe a mentor must be empathetic to understand and provide guidance when a mentee is struggling. Dr. Eliseo Marin-Rimoldi has been very calm and patient when I felt like I am unable to understand a concept or meet the proposed timelines. He has been encouraging from day one.

What are your long-term career plans?

I intend to be in the field of academia by becoming an educator. One other ambition is to educate students in third world countries about the importance of Computational Chemistry and the opportunities that await them.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people would not know about?

I am a CrossFit enthusiast and I work out at least 5 days a week. I would also like to think that I am an amateur baker!

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I think being able to pursue a PhD in one of the best universities under a great advisor is what I am most proud and grateful about. It has opened a door to a whole new world for me.

What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?

Working out and baking — it that order!

What’s a goal you have for yourself that you’d like to accomplish in the next year or two?

Publish at least two new peer-reviewed papers on my current work.

Message from Geemi to readers:

I believe that hard and honest work always pays off. It is important to have a good work ethic if one wants to succeed in life. When I was doing my undergrad I honestly did not know “how big the world of academia” is, and what I could achieve. Coming to the USA and getting to work with my research advisor Dr. Andrew White at the University of Rochester has indeed feels like a dream. He has been a great mentor who always encourage me to believe in myself and improve as a graduate student each day. I think what drives me is my passion for work and learning something new every day (it doesn’t have to be science related). When I am not sitting in front of my computer, you will find me at the gym or at the kitchen. I am also “attached at the hip” to my family back in Sri Lanka. We have family-meetings almost two times every day! I am a stronger believer that a life has to be lived.

Use these links if you’d like to know more about Geemi and her current work: