Tharaka is a graduate student originally from Sri Lanka. She has a BS in Chemistry and Botany, and a Post-graduate Diploma in Food Science and Technology, at the University of Peradeniya. Tharaka is a Graduate Teaching Assistant and oversees the lab portion of DHN 304: Experimental Foods.

Tharaka is working with Dr. Sandra Bastin on her thesis project. She knew from the very beginning that she wanted to engage in a project that would allow her to bring Food Science and Nutrition together. With Dr. Bastin's guidance, Tharaka developed a healthy chocolate formula which is rich in polyphenols and low in fat. She is currently analyzing the data for her project.

Why did you choose to obtain your Master's in Nutrition and Food Systems?

As I came to Lexington-Kentucky, my life turned into a new chapter which brought out my hidden interest in Nutrition. The large fraction of people with obesity struck my mind and I was amused by the lower prices of fast foods. I knew there was a connection between the two, and I was curious to learn more about the relationship between health disorders and the food systems.

My dream is to serve the health and well-being of the community in a broad aspect of food. Although my background is Food Science, I was lacking in the knowledge of human nutrition and I was unaware of the complex food systems we have today. Therefore, I enrolled in this program as I wanted to compile the knowledge from all these three areas to achieve my big dream, and it has brought me many steps ahead!

What are your plans after graduation? 

I am planning to enroll in a Ph.D. program in Food Science soon after my graduation. The knowledge I have gained through this MS program and the exposure to many dietitians, has helped me to lay the foundation of my dream. Standing on this foundation, I will continue to work hard to bring out healthier food options to uplift the health and well being of the society.