Student Successes

Suranga Kasthurirathne

Ph.D. in Health Informatics

What degree are you working toward?

I am working towards a Ph.D. in Health Informatics at the School of Informatics and Computing, IUPUI. I completed a BEng in Software Engineering at the University of Westminster, UK, before moving to the US to start work on my Ph.D. in the fall of 2013.

Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?

I was determined to pursue a career in global health informatics, and wanted to work on a PhD at a university that had the right placement and relationships to help me achieve my goals.

I decided very early on that my PhD should be based on ‘doing’, as opposed to learning theoretical concepts in a classroom.

If you want to work on global health get your hands really messy, then IUPUI is the place for you. IUPUI is very strategically placed – their links with IUSM and the Regenstrief Institute open the door for a wide range of options. In my case, the excellent working relationship between these institutions has been very rewarding, and helped me work on everything from nurturing local health informatics capacity in Asia and Africa to helping improve antenatal care in Rwanda, supporting Ebola efforts in Africa and improving public health reporting in the state of Indiana.

What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?

Actually, none. There comes a time in everyone’s life when a perfect exam score loses its allure, and I’ve reached that point. On the other hand, over the past year I’ve had the privilege of representing the needs of underserved nations at an international healthcare standards development organization named HL7, and working to ensure that new and upcoming interoperability standards are built in a way that would meet the needs of the poor farmer in Asia and the starving child in Africa. Needless to say that I’m very proud of this little victory.

What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?

Being close to mentors who can strongly support my work, and will go out of their way to do so. Being able to benefit from the extensive IU network, and call upon an incredible body of experts who are passionate about what they do, and don’t stop working just because it’s the weekend.

And also, regular visits to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra thanks to discounted student pricing, enjoying (and critiquing) Herron students and being able to express myself as a writer without having to worry about any political implications.