Welcome to the herd: Kumari Andarawewa

Sri Lanka native and outer space enthusiast appointed associate clinical professor in Department of Comparative Pathobiology
A smiling woman with long black hair, wearing a long sleeve navy sweatshirt, is posing for a photo while leaning on a railing in front of a volcano and a crater lake filled with light blue water.
Cummings School Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Pathobiology Kumari Andarawewa visited Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica on a family trip. Photo: Kyle Rajapakse

Dr. Kumari Andarawewa (she/her), a well-rounded veterinarian and Sri Lanka native with a passion for animals, outer space, and swimming, has been appointed as associate clinical professor in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology and director of the Division of Animal Resources at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I always wanted to work in a vet school, but I never thought it would happen. Then my husband, who is also a veterinarian, moved to Worcester for his job,” she says. “Tufts is an excellent school, and I really liked that Cummings School has a farm because most universities don’t. And the wide variety of species here also excited me, as well as the teaching program … It’s a great environment. Everyone on campus has been very welcoming … it’s truly an amazing feeling to be here.”

Fascinated with astronomy and outer space at a young age, Andarawewa learned all about them and became an advocate and promoter of science. After earning a degree in veterinary and animal science from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, she earned a M.S.S. in space science from the International Space University in France and conducted research at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She is lab animal medicine board-certified and also serves as ad hoc specialist for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International.

Andarawewa has enjoyed teaching and mentoring throughout her career, including time as a community college professor, and most recently, as an assistant professor of radiation oncology and associate director for the Center for Comparative Medicine at the University of Virginia. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from France’s University Louis Pasteur.

“I love being able to help students, to give back what I have learned, and make an impact,” she explains. “I encourage them to think outside the box, to explore, and to pursue what they are passionate about.” 

Andarawewa leads by example. “I'm really passionate about animals, space, and swimming.” She earned a college swimming scholarship, is a USA swimming certified official and has continued to swim regularly. “I love giving back through teaching.”

In addition to teaching, Andarawewa is eager to continue researching to explore microbiome effect on SARS-CoV2 and novel combination therapy approaches for metastatic cancer, for which she is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. “I hope to provide opportunities for students to be a part of my lab through a rotation or internship and I look forward to working collaboratively with everyone to make a positive impact on the Division of Animal Resources.”

She is eager to spend her first summer in New England together with her husband and two sons.