University of Bolton student wins top award at cybernetics conference
A STUDENT has been awarded the top accolade at a high-profile international conference in Bolton.
Chathurika Kannangara, a University of Bolton PhD student, won the Heinz von Foerster Award at the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) conference — held outside of America for the first time.
A panel of experts award the prize to the person who has made the most significant contribution to the conference.
Chathurika, aged 29, earned the honour for her contribution to group discussions on the conference’s theme — the link between understanding and acting. She said: “I raised the point that where I come from we do have understanding, but acting upon it is completely disconnected.
“There is study and research, but often it is affected by bribery and corruption when trying to get that understanding to the next level. I tried to offer ideas on what can be done to connect this disconnection.”
Chathurika is from Sri Lanka and has only been studying at Bolton for one-and-a-half months.
She said: ‘“It was a big shock. I couldn’t stand up in my chair when they called my name. I am very much enjoying being here in Bolton. Everyone I have met has been very helpful.”
Winning the award came as an extra surprise for Chathurika after nearly missing out. She was initially not going to attend the conference as her area of study is psychology not cybernetics.
It was only after the recommendation of her PhD supervisor, Professor Jerome Carson, that she attended. Chathurika said: “Jerome said we should attend even though we are not involved in cybernetics.
“We can go with no expectation and we might come out with something brilliant.”
Prof Dai Griffiths, is professor of educational cybernetics at Bolton and was co-chairman of the conference with ASC president Professor Ranulph Glanville.
Prof Griffiths said: “I’m delighted Chathurika has achieved this.
“I know the committee which made the award was impressed by her determination to use her research to make a difference to the educational system in Sri Lanka, and by the clarity with which she was able to express this.”
The prize will support her in maintaining contacts with an international community of scholars.
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