Prof. Namal Priyantha completed secondary education at Thurstan College, Colombo, and entered the Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya in 1978 as a physical science student. Having graduated in 1982 with B.Sc. Special Degree in Chemistry securing Second Class honors (Upper Division) merits and the Bhikaji Framji Khan Gold Medal for the best achievement in Chemistry, he started the career as a temporary Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Peradeniya. Upon subsequent recruitment to the same Department, he proceeded for postgraduate studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), USA, in 1984, and joined the Electrochemistry research group. During the postgraduate career, he was able to secure the departmental research fellowship in two consecutive years, which was awarded for outstanding achievement in postgraduate work. Further, two prestigious teaching awards; first from the American Chemical Society and the second from the Graduate Student Organization of UHM, were awarded to Prof. Priyantha for outstanding performance as a teaching assistant. After completion of the Ph.D. in 1989 at the age of 28 years, he was recruited to the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) as an Assistant Professor, where he taught many chemistry courses for 3½ years and received excellent student evaluations. Further, he developed a strong undergraduate research programme and initiated many outreach programmes under his leadership at UHH.
Prof. Priyantha rejoined the University of Peradeniya (UOP) in 1993 as a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, and started a research programme in electrochemical sensors and low-cost methods for treatment of industrial effluents, and continued to teach physical and analytical chemistry courses. He also contributed to popularize science education in the nation through Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS), of which he served as a committee member, the Secretary, the President-Elect and the President of the Chemical Sciences section, and through the Science Education Unit of UOP.
Prof. Priyantha is the founder Coordinator of the M.Sc. programme in Analytical Chemistry and the first Secretary of the Board of Study in Chemical Sciences of the Postgraduate Institute of Science (PGIS). He has been involved in teaching for many M.Sc. programmes, including Analytical Chemistry, Biodiversity & Ecotourism, Environmental Science, Industrial Chemistry and Nanoscience & Nanotechnology.
Prof. Priyantha was promoted to Professor in 2001 at the age of 40 years, and subsequently to Senior Professor in 2009. He has spend two years at the Stanford Research Institute, California, USA, on sabbatical leave, as a research fellow, and served the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) as a Visiting Professor on many occasions.
During the past 21 years of service at the University of Peradeniya, two Ph.D. students, eight M.Phil. students and twenty six M.Sc. students have obtained their degrees under the supervision of Prof. Priyantha. Many postgraduate students are currently in progress both at UOP and UBD. He has been able to contribute to over one hundred and eighty (180) publications and communications, a few text books for undergraduate/ postgraduate education and a US patent during his career.