Gothamie Weerakoon

Ecologist and Lichen Taxonomist

A colour photograph of a woman standing beside a cabinet in the natural history museum archives. She has dark hair and dark glasses, and is wearing a white formal shirt with a red lanyard around her neck. She is carrying a pile of envelopes containing archival materials.

Image from Natural History Museum, 2018

  • BORN 1973, Matale, Sri Lanka
  • WORKED Sri Lanka, USA and UK
  • HONOURS Presidential Award for Best Publication Record
  • MINERVA SCIENTIFICA PROJECT Echoes from Essex 2020


An electric voice theatre “Echoes from Essex” Podcast. The Queen of Slime Mould is Gulielma Lister (1860-1949), Leytonstone’s World Expert on Fungi, and an inspiration to Gothamie Weerakoon who is in discussion with science historian Dr Patricia Fara. For more Minerva Scientifica podcasts click here.

Artistic Connections

My artistic connection is with this project.


Title: O We’ll Go This Day A Rugglin’
Written in: September 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic
For: solo voice
Performed by: Gwion Thomas (baritone)
First Performed: Filmed during a live Zoom performance, September 20th 2020 as part of the music-drama “Hope for Essex”

This little quasi folk song is a mini potted history of The Queen of Slime Mould, Gulielma Lister.

“O we’ll go this day a-rugglin on
There’s fungi and lichen and slime moulds to find
That we are all for collecting inclined
And Birds to watch in the sycamore tree
And sketches to make of the plants that we see
All around the Walnut tree
The Queen of Slime Mould Forever she will be”


I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a MSc in Environmental Sciences. My PhD is on Lichenology.

I have done postdoctoral studies on Lichen taxonomy.


Dog walker
When I needed money, and because I love dogs…

Research Scientist on Lichen taxonomy
My research interests are focused on the taxonomy and ecology of tropical lichens, bioindication and conservation of lichenised fungi in endangered habitats.

Senior Curator of Lichens and Slime Moulds at the Natural History Museum, London
My main responsibility as the Senior Curator of British, General and Historical herbaria is to manage and develop one of the world’s largest lichen collections and slime moulds with approximately 450,000 specimens.

I have spent much time in the field in South and South East Asia observing lichens in their native habitats and described more than 100 new lichen species.

Scientific Achievements

My current projects involve:

1) A taxonomic key for Graphis, the most specious lichen genus in Sri Lanka

2) IUCN red listing of threatened lichens in the world

3) Collaborative research in renewable sources of bioactive products from endolichenic fungi in mangrove ecosystems

4) Ecological relationships and bioindication of tropical lichens in threatened habitats in the tropics

5) Documentation of the lichen flora of Sri Lanka and describing novel species.

I have been privileged to visit many countries and to work with many colleagues overseas.

Did You Know?

I am a very good cook. My family and friends love my creative dishes. However, do not ask for recipes. I create the dishes using what is available in the kitchen!

An Inspiring Woman

Gulielma Lister, the Queen of slime mould

Patricia Wolseley, my PhD supervisor

I am involved with many women in science education and outreach projects. Especially focusing on women in underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa. I have done public lectures and conducted workshops on popular science among women.