Saluki Pride: Jayakody receives Early Career Faculty Excellence Award

Lahiru Jayakody is the 2024 winner of the Early Career Faculty Excellence Award.

An assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences, Jayakody also works with the Fermentation Science Institute. He joined SIU in August of 2019.

The award recognizes a faculty member who is within their first five years of employment at the university and who excels at research, teaching and other professional activities.

Jayakody earned his doctorate in bioscience and biotechnology in 2014 from Kagoshima University, Japan. He has received more than $3.3 million in grants during the last five years and received several honors from SIU and other groups.

As a researcher, Jayakody has been busy finding ways to create food on long-range space voyages, as well as ways to mitigate environmental issues. His work focuses on synthetic microbiology and green chemistry – areas in which he holds multiple patents.


Name: Lahiru N. Jayakody

Years at SIU: 5

What do you enjoy most about your work at SIU? I always go to work with the motivation that I can change the world by discovering new things through my favorite microbes while working with incredibly talented students — both graduate and undergraduate — and co-workers, and teach new findings to my students in the lab and classroom. I hope that these students will be the next generation of scientists and professionals who will change the world. I always think that the decision I made five years ago to join SIU is one of the best choices, as it is one of the best places to practice cutting-edge research and development.

I’m happiest when … I am able to innovate technology and discover approaches that can help tackle global issues like climate change, hunger and plastic pollution, especially when I can make seemingly impossible things possible with my students. I want to enable a sustainable future for our younger generation.

At the top of my “bucket list” is: To visit Europe, particularly Switzerland. I love Swiss chocolate and eagerly await exploring the natural wonders.

My favorite activity away from work is: Playing music, I used to be a keyboardist and guitarist in a band, and I still enjoy spending hours playing the keyboard and singing. 

What are three things you cannot live without? My family: I don’t think I can even imagine having a life without my adorable son, Atheesha, daughter, Neheli, and my amazing and supportive wife, Miyuki. No. 2 is music. I am affected by playing music and singing, And No. 3 is traveling. I love to explore nature.

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