Skip To Content
Alumni Sign In

Nicole Gunawansa

Class of 2014-2015

About Nicole

(updated 6/2015) Nicole Gunawansa grew up in a lively Sri Lankan household in Portsmouth, Virginia. Having a deep-seeded interest in medicine and the role that poverty plays in equal access to medical treatment, she graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience and an added emphasis in Poverty and Human Capability Studies. As a Washington and Lee University Robert E. Lee Research Scholar, Nicole participated in four years of behavioral neurological research that focuses on the impact of obesity and gonadal hormones on spatial and episodic cognition for four years. Additionally, she was a Bonner Scholar and AmeriCorps member and dedicated over 900 hours to both domestic and international community service. Nicole has spent time abroad in Denmark studying the impact of the Scandinavian Healthcare Model on different sectors of European society, and in Ghana evaluating the medical obstacles developing communities face in Western Africa.  
As a 2014-2015 Luce Scholar, Nicole has spent her year in  Sendai, Japan working with the International Research Institute of Disaster Science and the Department of Disaster Psychiatry at  Tohoku University School of Medicine . During her time there, she has engaged in projects that relate to the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on mental health. These projects include analyzing clinical cohort data, running animal experiments that test the role of microglia in fear response, and interviewing healthcare professionals/first responders about the implementation of disaster medicine. Outside the lab, Nicole enjoys Japanese culture through language exchanges, choir rehearsals, cooking lessons, and road trip adventures with friends. Upon returning to the United States, she plans to work in the non-profit sector to gain more public health exposure before pursuing a medical degree geared towards serving underprivileged international populations.           

Join the Luce Scholars Community!

Apply Now

Get InvolvedBecome a Luce Scholar Mentor

Interested in giving back to the Luce community? Sign up to become a mentor. We’ll pair you with a current Scholar or a recent alumnus of the program.

Get in Touch

Are you a Luce Alumnus?Share Your Story

Every month we spotlight Luce alumni who share memories from their Luce Year and tell us about their professional journeys. If you’d like us to share your story, please get in touch!

Share Your Story