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Civil Engineering

Sunanda Dissanayake | Professor

Graduate Program DirectorPhoto of Sunanda Dissanayake

Ph.D. - 1999, University of South Florida
Civil Engineering
M.S. - 1993, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
Transportation Engineering
B.S. - 1990, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
Civil Engineering

Contact Information

2128 Fiedler Hall

Professional Experience

Professor Sunanda Dissanayake received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Cngineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka in 1990. Right after, she joined the same university as an assistant lecturer and received DAAD Scholarship from Germany to study towards a master’s degree at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, where she received a Master of Science in Transportation Engineering in March 1993. Upon completion, Dissanayake returned to the University of Moratuwa, and served as a lecturer between 1993 and 1996. In January of 1997, she joined the University of South Florida for her doctoral studies, where she earned her doctorate in civil engineering in December of 1999.  From 2001 to 2002, she worked as a research assistant professor at University of South Florida, and joined the department of civil engineering at Kansas State University in July 2002 as a tenure-track assistant professor.  Dissanayake was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2008, and became a full professor in 2014. She is currently serving as the graduate program director in civil engineering. In 2011, she received the prestigious Fulbright Award for her sabbatical leave, and served as a senior scholar for the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka.


Dissanayake’s research focuses on studies related to solving applied and practical problems related to transportation engineering with particular emphasis on traffic operations and safety of the highway mode. Dissanayake has successfully completed numerous externally funded research projects in the area of traffic engineering and highway safety, and teaches courses related to those topics at K-State. Some examples of her previous work include: speed limit related issues on gravel roads, safety issues related to special population groups such as young drivers and older drivers, motorcycle safety, improving seatbelt usage rates and associated benefits, truck crashes and reducing severity, rural highway safety and crash analysis, children’s transportation safety, calibration of the Highway Safety Manual for local conditions, evaluation of safety effects of bypass lanes in rural areas, and calculating Crash Modification Factors for lane departure crashes among many others. Her research has been funded by state departments of transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation and several university transportation centers. 

Academic Highlights

Dissanayake has authored and/or co-authored more than 40 journal papers, and presented more than 135 presentations at national, international and regional conferences, most of which are proceedings. Dissanayake directed five completed doctoral dissertations and 15 completed master's theses all of whom were supported via her externally funded research. She has also graduated 12 other master’s students based on report and coursework options. Dissanayake is highly active in professional activities and is a member of American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Kansas Association for Uniform Traffic Control and Transportation Research Forum. Dissanayake is currently a member of two journal editorial boards, a member of two TRB committees (Vehicle User Characteristics and Low Volume Roads), and serves as the chair of the Transportation Safety Committee of ASCE/T&DI. Most recently she was appointed as a high-end foreign expert in traffic safety and as a member of the First Advisory Board for Joint International Research Lab of Transportation Safety at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. She has won the Outstanding University and Professional Service Award, Advisor of the Year award, Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, and Outstanding Researcher award from the K-State CE department several times and also has won the Myers-Alford Memorial Teaching Award from the College of Engineering at K-State.