Asha De Vos Becomes The First Sri Lankan Woman To Have Her Portrait Hung At The University Of Oxford


Asha de Vos is a Sri Lankan marine biologist, ocean educator and pioneer of blue whale research within the northern Indian Ocean. For years now this powerhouse has been inspiring people and making Sri Lanka’s proud with her remarkable achivements. This includes being chosen for a BBC 100 Women award in 2018, named a Senior TED Fellow, and selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Asha completed her undergraduate studies in marine and environmental biology at the University of St. Andrews and went on to gain her masters in integrative bio-sciences at the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of Western Australia (making her the  first and only Sri Lankan to gain a PhD in marine mammal research). 

This week she announced via her social media channels that she had yet another achievement in global recondition to share. An extract from her post is as follows: “Fast forward to now. In 2020 my college, Lincoln, will celebrate 40 years of admitting women. To celebrate they will hang the portraits of 20 female alumnae in our 15th Century Hall for the year. These are aimed to inspire current students and future applicants. A jury had the tough task of picking the 20 faces that best portrayed the women that have passed through over the 4 decades. I am so excited to say that I am one of them – making me the first Sri Lankan woman to have her portrait anywhere in the University!”

Asha’s work on blue whales and ocean conservation is doing more than just drawing the attention of the public – it is quite literrally helping to save our oceans and planets and inspiring others to do the same. Asha has served as a senior programme officer in the marine and coastal unit of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. She founded the Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project in 2008, which forms the first long term study on blue whales within the northern Indian Ocean. Through her research, the International Whaling Commission has designated Sri Lankan blue whales as a species in urgent need of conservation research and has started collaborating with the Sri Lankan government on whale ship-strikes.