PROFile: Dr. Darshani Kumaragamage

Professor, department of environmental studies and sciences, U of W

Dr. Darshani Kumaragamage joined the Environmental Studies and Sciences Department at the University of Winnipeg in 2009.

“I’m mostly looking at the impact of agriculture on the environment and how to mitigate those environmental impacts, so mostly focusing on phos- phorus losses from soils to waterways ending up in Lake Winnipeg and trying to mitigate those losses.”

Dr. Kumaragamage has been work- ing with phosphorus for 30 years, but in 2005, she started focusing on the effects of phosphorus on the environment specifically.

“Phosphorus is a new trend,” she says. “We apply the fertilizer to the soil, and sometimes manure has lots of phosphorus, and when farmers apply manure to the fields, you get a high amount of phosphorus in the soil. That phosphorus, if it stays in the soil it’s fine, because phosphorus is needed for the crops.”

However, at times, that phosphorus finds its way into the waterways, then into Lake Winnipeg, and that’s problematic.

She says, “Lake Winnipeg is considered as one of the most threatened lakes in the world.”

Aside from grading papers, Dr. Kumaragamage enjoys her work. Specifically, she likes teaching and interacting with the students.

“I like the dissemination of knowledge,” she says. “Sometimes, we go to conferences, we present information, and we get feedback. We sometimes interact with experts in the area.

“I do love my job.”

What is something you've learned from your students?

“To be patient.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“If I can be teleported to places ... if (only) I can go somewhere warm right now.”

Is there something an individual can do to help create awareness around the issues of phosphorus in lake Winnipeg?

Dr. Kumaragamage mentioned the non-profit organization Lake Winnipeg Foundation as a way to get involved with helping clean Lake Winnipeg.

Published in Volume 74, Number 21 of The Uniter (March 11, 2020)

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