The International Society of Rock Mechanics (ISRM) annually awards a bronze medal and a cash prize for the World Best PhD Thesis in Rock Mechanics in memory of Professor Manuel Rocha, the second President and organiser of the first international congress of the ISRM. The wining thesis is selected based on; 1) Problem statement, 2) Appreciation of State of the Art, 3) Theoretical and/or practical advancements, 4) Verification of proposed solution and 5) Quality of Presentation of the thesis. The choice of the prize-winning thesis is the responsibility of the Rocha Award Committee, appointed by the President, chaired by the President, and including the Vice-Presidents and any others co-opted to assist in the review process. The committee then invite the Rocha Medal winner to attend the following ISRM conference as a guest to receive the award with providing all the expenses.


The first Rocha medal was awarded in 1982 and since then Australia could win it only three times and one of these has been won by Dr. P.M. Dight, from Monash University in 1985. After 29 years, Dr. Perera could again bring that award back to Monash.

The core theme of Dr. Perera’s PhD thesis is “Investigation of the Effect of Carbon Dioxide Sequestration on the Hydro–Mechanical Properties of Coal”, which was supervised by Assoc Prof Ranjith Pathegama. The process of CO2 sequestration in deep coal seam causes both coal seam permeability and strength to be significantly reduced due to CO2 adsorption-induced coal matrix swelling. In deep coal seams CO2 exists in its super-critical state, which has quite different properties compared to sub-critical CO2. Therefore, her PhD has been aimed to understand the effects of sub-critical and super-critical CO2 injections on coal flow and strength properties through a comprehensive research work, which included experimental, numerical and analytical works. During her PhD she has written 02 book chapters), 19 journal papers and 04 conference papers she has received a number of awards including, Mollie Holman Medal (Vice Chancellor’s Best PhD thesis Award) and Kent Hunt award for the Best PhD thesis in Engineering Monash university and Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council (ARC).