SFU Undergrad Researcher: Ruvini Amarasekera

Next up in our series of brilliant SFU researchers, we have Ruvini Amarasekera of the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology!

Name: Ruvini Amarasekera
Year of Study: 2nd
Major: Biomedical Physiology
PI: Dr. Maureen Ashe, Center for Hip Health and Mobility

Q: How did you get involved in research?
A: I wanted to work in a lab that took a new perspective on healthcare; somewhere I could apply both my physiology and psychology background- and this is what I found! Many people have the misconception that research only entails sitting at a bench pipetting all day, but there is also a clinical side where there’s an opportunity to interact directly with subjects. Research is a very broad field of work and there is something for everyone!
Q: What is your research about?
A: Our research focuses on the psychosocial determinants of health; essentially we realize that healthcare goes far beyond hospitals and doctors’ offices, and we are looking into what those factors are. We want to shift healthcare and medicine to a preventative approach; we want to change the way people live so that they don’t get sick in the first place, instead of only treating people once they are already sick!
Q: What will you be working on this summer?
A: This summer I’m very excited to be taking on a project where I’ll be exploring the influence of built and social environments on community mobility, specifically for older adults living in rural communities.
Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: Every day varies; there are some days where I am sitting at a computer doing preliminary data research on the communities we will be studying, there are days where I’m working very closely with my professor or grad students, and in the summer I’ll be going out to these rural communities to work directly with our subjects.
Q: Who is your biggest science crush?
A: Currently, Marc Lewis. I’m reading a book authored by him called “The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease” where he presents quite a controversial model of addiction. Lewis is a neuroscientist but perhaps more interestingly, a former addict and he asks the tough questions about how we frame mental illnesses (specifically, addiction). He focuses on the intersections of neurophysiology and sociology and really is making me think about the overlap between the two.