Prof Nimalsiri ( Nimal) Dharmakeerthi Rajapakse hails from Bopetta, Attanagalla and spent his formative years in Colombo with his maternal grandparents. He received primary and secondary education from Ananda College, following in the footsteps of his grandfather mentor, Don Elias Rajapakse. Ananda College honored him as the orator of Col. Henry Steele Olcott Oration in 2005.
Prof Nimal is an internationally renowned researcher in Applied Mechanics and a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Horst Leipholz Medal of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, Rh Award for Applied Sciences and Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. He is ranked among the top 100,000 and top 1% of worldwide researchers based on the Scopus database, according to a study by scholars from Stanford University. Prof Nimal served four major Canadian research universities and held academic administrative positions for two decades. He has received over C$15 million in research grants as a principal investigator. Prof Nimal has mentored 23 PhD students and 16 MSc Students, and 20 post-doctoral fellows. He has co-authored a textbook published by Springer, which has been downloaded 1.5 million times. Prof Nimal has collaborated and received support from IBM Research, Manitoba Hydro, Ballard, Kinectrics and Westport Innovation. He has served on the editorial boards of leading international journals in engineering mechanics. Prof Nimal is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Engineering Institute of Canada, and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.
Prof Nimal is an accomplished academic leader with over twenty years of university leadership experience in Canada and Sri Lanka. He joined the University of Manitoba as an Assistant Professor in 1985 and started his academic administrative career when appointed as Head of the Department of Civil Engineering in 1997. Prof Nimal was recruited to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2000 as Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Mech 2 Program, which received the highest national and international awards for curriculum innovation, was introduced in 2004 during his headship. He led the discussion with the PACE Program (General Motors-led Partnership for Advanced Collaborative Engineering), which granted UBC in 2004 an over $200 million in-kind donation of software and computer hardware. Prof Nimal was appointed Director of the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) at UBC in 2007. A research team led by him obtained a grant of C$12.9m in 2009 to upgrade the ICICS. Prof Nimal was hired as Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 2009. He raised funding for several research chairs during his deanship and led the development of SFU’s flagship relationship with Indian Oil Corporation to train Indian PhD students. Prof Nimal was recruited to Carleton University in 2015 as Vice-President (Research and International), and he made several initiatives to strengthen the research profile and impact. He retired from his academic career in Canada and returned to Sri Lanka in 2019 to serve as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the Sri Lanka Institute of Technology.