It’s his second such invitation for 2014; he also has been invited to teach seminars at the Institute of Natural Sciences of the Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia, Oct. 16-25.

Rajakaruna was invited to the School of Biological Sciences at the North-West University — one of the largest universities in South Africa, with three campuses at PotchefstroomMahikeng and Vanderbijlpark — to present two talks on serpentine ecology, a topic for which he has earned international attention as an expert, in November and December.

“When I visited South Africa in 2012, I met with many researchers at NWU,” Rajakaruna said. “Biodiverse South Africa is a fantastic natural laboratory for geoecological research.The country has had a very long history of mining that has devastated the natural landscape. There is much interest in restoring these sites via green technologies as well as documenting unusual species.”

Serpentine soil is derived from certain rocks formed by the hydration and metamorphic transformation of rock from the Earth’s mantle. Soils derived from such rock give rise to unusual and sparse associations of plants that are tolerant of extreme soil conditions.

In June, Rajakaruna gave the invited keynote address during the 8th International Conference on Serpentine Ecology in Sabah, Malaysia. He will serve as editor of those proceedings, to be published by the Australian Journal of Botany.

Rajakaruna ’94, a native of Sri Lanka, studied botany in the Sinharaja Rainforest while at COA and also did work for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute as a field coordinator. In 1995, he joined the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia and received a M.Sc (1998) and a Ph.D. (2002).

Rajakaruna also recently had an article, “Geoecology,” approved by Oxford University Press for publication in the upcoming “Oxford Bibliographies in Ecology.”