Dr. Sanga Kugabalasooriar Honored with Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Sanga Kugabalasooriar Honored with 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Sanga Kugabalasooriar, who teaches basic and advanced chemistry to undergraduate students at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, is a recipient of the College’s 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award. Nominations for the award, which annually recognizes two faculty members for knowledge, skill, creativity and innovation in teaching, are made by currently enrolled students.  

“Emphasizing that it is better to try and not succeed, than to never try at all”

One of Dr. Kugabalasooriar’s students, who admits to questioning whether he would be able to endure the rigor of organic chemistry, mentioned in his nomination that it takes a special educator to reach students in such a way that the material presented is comprehensive and applicable. This especially holds true, he noted, in a course with significant difficulty, such as organic chemistry.  The student went on to describe Dr. Kugabalasooriar’s passion for educating saying that “he worked hard to create a positive learning environment for his students and is an innovative thinker who intuitively recognizes areas of weakness in his students, and remedially introduces alternative approaches.”

“It’s not enough to dream; you must work hard towards it”

Another of Dr. Kugabalasooriar’s students recalls that on the first day of organic chemistry class, “a class dreaded by many,” he remembers “jotting down in [his] notebook something [his professor] said that while simple, resonated with [him], ‘It’s not enough to dream; you must work hard towards it.’” His dream is to become a physician, and this spoke to him on a different level about looking at the work as a pathway to his dream, not just something to get through.

Dr. Kugabalasooriar has taught at Northeastern University since 1994. Prior to joining the university, he was a senior research associate (until 2010) at the Research Institute for Medicine and Chemistry in Cambridge, MA, designing and developing compounds with therapeutic potential in wound healing, cholesterol lowering, antibiotic, and anti-cancer.

Dr. Kugabalasooriar earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Maine, and a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Dr. Kugabalasooriar holds over 32 chemical patents resulting from his research work, has published his research in journals and has presented at chemistry research society meetings.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Each year, the College of Professional Studies honors two faculty members for their excellence in teaching.   In considering nominations, the committee seeks indication of especially high intellectual standards in terms of course content, rigor, and integration of the best scholarship, depth of knowledge in the subject and evidence of scholarly and pedagogical growth as new knowledge is created and new classroom technology is developed.  This year the awards are presented at the College of Professional Studies spring 2013 graduation held on April 21, 2013.

To read about the other Teaching Excellence Award recipient, Dr. Nena Stracuzzi, visit An “Inspiring Instructor who Encourages Intellectual Risk-Taking” 

More about graduation

The College of Professional Studies celebrates two graduations, fall and spring, in keeping with the College’s flexible approach to education offering an array of options to students including part-time and full-time studies, Fast-Track, online, and hybrid formats.

To learn more about graduation, visit our 2013 graduation web page 

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.