Mahendra Fernando received his BSc in Physics with a first-class honour in the year 1993 from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Colombo in the same year. In the year 2001, he obtained his PhD from the University of Colombo under a sandwich-type program with Uppsala University, Sweden, in Physics of Lightning. He was a visiting researcher at the Uppsala University, Sweden, from 2008-2010. He is a Professor in Physics at the University of Colombo since 2016. He has been the group leader of the Atmospheric Physics and Lightning Research Group since 2001.
He has authored and co-authored about 75 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences. He has been awarded the Presidential Award for research in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013. In 2016, he was awarded the ICLP Scientific Committee award “for recognition of dedicated service and notable contribution to the advancement of the field of lightning research and lightning protection as a researcher and teacher”.