arequipa nexus institute
for food, energy, water and the environment

purdue university UNSA
discovery park

Science for a Sustainable Future

The Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA) in Arequipa, Peru and Purdue University in Indiana, USA through the Office of Research have partnered to create a bold new research, education, and innovation institute to work together on key challenges to a sustainable future for the peoples of Arequipa. The Arequipa Nexus Institute for Sustainable Food, Energy, Water and the Environment (The Nexus Institute) launched its multiphase collaboration in March 2018.

The Arequipa Nexus Institute leverages the institution-level faculty, student, and infrastructure commitment of UNSA and the combined strengths of research faculty and infrastructure from Purdue’s Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Health and Human Science, Liberal Arts, Science, Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and Purdue libraries.

  Project Impact Report

  Info Sheet

Featured News and Media

Nexus Partnership
Overview of the Nexus Institute partnership between the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin de Arequipa and Purdue University.

Aiming to Improve Food Resource Management

Strengthening Water Resource Management

Purdue Article Highlights Continuation of Purdue-UNSA Partnership

All News Stories

The Challenges Ahead

The Arequipa region faces many complex social and environmental challenges. Among them:

These social, environmental, and economic challenges are interconnected in complex ways and demand innovative, multi-team approaches for effective change. Any truly effective solutions must be future adaptive, come with minimal trade-offs, and grounded in the unique social systems that define the region—its structures and institutions, infrastructure, regulatory systems, and economies, as well as attitudes, lifestyles, and policies and practices. The Nexus Institute will apply data-driven, interdisciplinary science, technology, and innovation to help chart a new course toward a sustainable future.

Nexus Vision

To be a vibrant research, education, and innovation ecosystem where transformative solutions to grand challenges faced by Arequipa, Peru, and Latin America are explored.

Nexus Mission

To build capacity and the strategic, long-term collaborations needed to address key environmental, agroeconomic, and social challenges to support development of adaptive, profitable, and sustainable food-energy-water systems in the Arequipa region of Peru.

Four integrated centers will support the research ecosystem within the Nexus Institute

The Center for Sustainable Watershed Management works with key stakeholder groups to develop data, simulation models, and decision support tools for watershed management through:

  • State-of-the-art data sets; modeling laboratories including GIS and remote sensing labs;
  • Environmental decision tools, that operate on a variety of computing desktop and mobile platforms, that address food-energy-water managment in the region.

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The Center for Agricultural Innovation and Demonstration guides research to promote sustainable production of safe, healthy, low energy consumption, and profitable crop and animal agricultural products in Peru by:

  • Using advanced technologies for planting, monitoring, and harvesting crops such as advanced phenotyping and genetics;
  • Investigating the factors affecting contamination of agricultural products, as well as testing innovations in the storage and transport of food to minimize loss by pest and physical damage.

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The Center for Social Sciences and the Environment applies innovative social science approaches, grounded in interdisciplinary socio-environmental research, to collect and analyze individual, household and community data in order to:

  • Address pressing socio-environmental challenges related to extractive and agricultural activities, energy use, and food and water security;
  • Empower local communities through discussion, problem-solving, and engagement in decision making at various scales.

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The Center for Soil and Water Quality addresses environmental and sustainability challenges throughout the Arequipa Region with research, education, and outreach activities such as:

  • Establishment and support of soil, sediment, and water monitoring stations at locations critical to ground and surface water sources and at regions of agronomic importance;
  • Creation of research facilities for analysis of soil and aquatic microbiology, geochemistry, and environmental contaminants as well as high resolution spatial mapping and visualization.

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Creating an Innovation and Capacity-Building Ecosystem

Purdue’s International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA) has a long tradition of global engagement promoting regionally tailored methods of agricultural research, education, and capacity building. IPIA and UNSA partners will co-manage and co-develop customized workshops with technical training modules on food-energy-water systems, environmental management, and tools for microbiological, plant, geochemical and GIS analysis to be held at both Purdue and UNSA.

Purdue’s Foundry, an entrepreneurial and commercialization accelerator for innovators that helps concepts become companies, is the model for an UNSA Foundry and Technology Park in Arequipa. Adapting commercialization tools developed at Purdue for Arequipa will create the ecosystem necessary to foster local talent and innovation, grow businesses and support the local economy, and help bring socially-responsible, market-based solutions to bear on the region’s environmental challenges.

About Universidad Nacional de San Agustín

The National University of San Agustín de Arequipa was founded on Nov. 11, 1828 as a public university in Arequipa, Peru. Its mission is to train high-quality professionals to be competitive, capable of being agents of change and development in society, and excellent researchers capable of solving the problems that impact the environment of the region and Peru.

About Purdue's Center for the Environment

The mission of the Center for the Environment (C4E) in Discovery park is to promote proactive, interdisciplinary research, learning, and engagement at Purdue addressing important environmental challenges. C4E works with global partners to conduct use-inspired science to address humanity’s most pressing environmental and sustainability challenges.

Office of Research

The mission of the Office of Research is to oversee Purdue University’s wide strategic initiatives and all operational and regulatory functions of the University research enterprise. This Office catalyzes Purdue-led research by bringing together researchers and resources across traditional academic boundaries and providing guidance and support for their work to drive discovery and societal impact.

Discovery Park

Discovery Park is a place where Purdue researchers move beyond traditional boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and with policymakers and business leaders to create solutions for a better world. Grand challenges of global health, global conflict and security, and those that lie at the nexus of sustainable energy, world food supply, water and the environment are the focus of researchers in Discovery Park. The translation of discovery to impact is integrated into the fabric of Discovery Park through entrepreneurship programs and partnerships.


Lori Hoagland

Lori Hoagland
Professor, Purdue University
Horticulture And Landscape Architecture
Nexus Institute Co-Director

Walter Daniel Leon-Salas

Walter Daniel Leon-Salas
Associate Professor, Purdue University
Purdue Polytechnic Institute
Nexus Institute Co-Director

Dennis Macedo

Dennis Macedo
Associate Professor, UNSA
Nexus Institute Co-Director