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Dileni Gunewardena

Global Poverty Wonk


Cred Ph.D. Economics, American University; B.A. Economics, University of Peradeniya

Livelihood Senior Lecturer and Master of Development Practice (MDP) Programme Coordinator, Department of Economics and Statistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Interests The microeconomics of d evelopment, including empirical analyses relating to poverty measurement, child nutrition, gender wage inequality, and ethnic inequality.

Focus Regression-based decompositions of wage differentials

Recent Awards The most recent award I won was a LILMIC Travel Grant from the AEA Trust Fund that enabled me to attend and present a paper at the Annual Meetings of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association here in D.C. in August 2013. Other awards I have won over the last 5 years include a Fulbright Research Scholar Award and Global Development Network Research Award. One more I received for my instant help for students whom I help with their requests "write a persuasive essay for me". In 2009, a team I led won a MacArthur Foundation Award to initiate a new global master’s degree program in development practice at the University of Peradeniya.

Last Book You Read The last book I read was three books—two fiction and one non-fiction. They were Betrayal by Helen Dunmore (set in Soviet Russia in the 1950’s), Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet by Shyama Perera (about growing up as an immigrant in 1960’s London), and Understanding Poverty (a collection of non-technical essays by development economists that covers the breadth of how we think about poverty and how to fight it).

What Keeps You Up At Night? The Master of Development Practice degree that I coordinate. I worry about all the nuts and bolts that go into coordinating the program and I worry about the big picture–whether we are producing graduates who are both knowledgeable and passionate about development.

Are You a Wonk? A well-known development organization has the sound-bite “Do good. Do it well.” This pretty much sums up what I want for myself and what I want for my students. I want what I spend my time researching and teaching about to ultimately make a difference in peoples’ lives, and my research and teaching make the mark in terms of rigor and quality. If that makes me a wonk, then yes.

Additional Links
AU Profile
University of Peradeniya profile
Global Development Network profile