Arequipa Nexus Institute

The Arequipa Nexus Institute for Sustainable Food, Energy, Water and the Environment (The Nexus Institute) launched its multiphase collaboration in March 2018.

The 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.

For more information, visit their website.

Affiliated Projects

Robotic Water Quality Monitoring and Distribution Systems: A Pilot Study

Co-PIs: Purdue: Byung-Cheol Min (CIT) & UNSA: Mauricio Postigo (FIPS)

Co-Is: Purdue: Brittany Newell, Jose Garcia, & Richard Voyles (All SOET), Sara McMillan (ABE); UNSA: Edgar Gonzales (FGGM) & Godofredo Peña (FA, UNSA)

The main goal of this project is to develop a low-cost robotic water quality monitoring system for water and sediment monitoring and analysis of water bodies, as well as a smart water irrigation system for agriculture in Arequipa in Peru. The expected results from this project include a developed understanding of issues for the mine water system in Arequipa; creation and evaluation of state-of-the-art robotic water sampling and monitoring systems for water and water distribution and spraying systems; creation of prototypes of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) and Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle (ROV) platforms for water and sediment sampling and monitoring; and 4) A prototype of a smart water distribution system.

A Framework for Sustainable Water Management in the Arequipa Region

Co-PIs: Purdue: Laura Bowling, (AGRO); UNSA: Dr. Edwin Bocardo Delgado (Biology)

Co-Is: Purdue: Jane Frankenberger (ABE);  Keith Cherkauer (ABE);  Linda Prokopy (FNR);  Zhao Ma (FNR); Bernie Engel (ABE); UNSA: Jose Pinto Caceres (Agro), Hector Novoa Andia (CIVL)

On-going concerns about the sustainability of agronomic management and the legacy of resource extraction in the Arequipa region that threatens water quality and food safety, coupled with urgent concern regarding future water supply, make water management a critical part of future planning in this region. Our project vision is to support a culture of science-based, collaborative water and watershed management in the Arequipa region. Our mission is to understand the environmental and social dimensions of water management and watershed governance and develop research capacities, programs and tools to improve the sustainability of water management and watershed governance in the region by 2024.

Seasonal Heavy Metal Concentrations in Streams in the Arequipa Region

PIs: Purdue: Chad Jafvert (CIVL, EEE); UNSA: Betty Paredes (CHEM) & Corina Vera (CHEM)

Co-I: Purdue: Timothy Filley (EAPS, AGRO)

The overall goal of this project is to investigate the transport and speciation of metals (copper, lead, arsenic, etc.), in several rivers in the Arequipa district that are impacted by mine drainage. Of interest are the forms that each metal (and metalloid) takes within each river, from upstream to downstream and as a function of time (i.e., season).

Hence, metal transport in rivers is highly dependent on river hydrodynamics as well as the river water chemistry (i.e., humic materials, pH, hardness, O2, sediment characteristics). During the second year, we wish to instrument up to three locations with automated samplers to monitor metals in the associated stream water over time with high sampling frequency.

Estimating relative inputs of glacial melt-water, groundwater, and irrigation runoff in rivers of Arequipa, Peru

Co-PIs: Purdue: Lisa Welp (EAPS); UNSA: Sebastian Zuñiga

Co-Is: Purdue: Marty Frisbee (EAPS); UNSA: Jose Diaz Rodriguez (Geology); Juan Manuel Jara

In the arid region of Arequipa in southern Peru, water resources are vital to the 1.3 million inhabitants and large agricultural economy. Precipitation that falls at high elevations generates stream-flow in the mountains and is now heavily managed by irrigation diversions as it flows to lower elevations. Local and regional mountain snowpack play an important role in controlling the timing of river discharge either through surface runoff and/or subsurface flow paths that recharge groundwater. The more we understand the location, timing, and magnitude of groundwater recharge and storage of these poorly understood water sources, the better communities can plan for future water management and sustainable development. There is a critical need to understand and quantify the partitioning of glacial and snowpack melt-water to surface-water and groundwater and its influence on sustaining water resources for potable water, irrigation, and hydropower.

The main objective of this project is to characterize unique chemical fingerprints using stable isotopes (2H and 18O), basic water chemistry, and estimated groundwater age using tritium (3H) of groundwater, stream flow, glacial and snowpack melt-water, precipitation, and agricultural runoff in the Majes and Chili River watersheds. Results of this study will determine which below- ground flow pathways are likely connected and how they change seasonally.

Equitable Co-existence of Agriculture, Mining, and Regional Development in Arequipa: Realities, Barriers, and Opportunities

Co-PIs: Purdue: Zhao Ma (FNR); UNSA: Patricia Salas O’Brien (Sociology)

Co-Is: Purdue: Jonathan Bauchet (Consumer Science), Laura Zanotti (ANTH); UNSA: Eliseo Zeballos Zeballos (Sociology) Nelly Ramírez Calderón (PSYCH) Glenn Arce Larrea (ECON)

The goal of the project is to investigate how communities across the rural-to-urban gradient in the Arequipa Region perceive water availability and quality in the context of climate change and to identify potential strategies for facilitating the co-existence of agriculture, mining, and regional development in an equitable way. We are working towards our goals by investigating the following questions:

  • How do communities across the rural-to-urban gradient perceive and experience water, climate change, and other environmental challenges?
  • What strategies have been used by households and communities to address these perceived challenges related to water availability, water quality, and climate change?
  • In the process of mitigating and adapting to perceived challenges of water availability, water quality and climate change, are there communities, households within communities, or members within households that are impacted more than others, and how and why do they differ from others?
  • What are the possible strategies (from the perspective of agricultural development, water development, climate change adaptation, and institutional building) that could be used to address household and community challenges and concerns with respect to water availability, water quality, and climate change?

Integrated Sensing System for Detection of Heavy Metal Contamination Across Food-Water-Environment Nexus in Arequipa

Co-PIs: Purdue: Suranjan Panigrahi (ECET); UNSA: Cesar Augusto Andrade Tacca (Process Engineering)

Co-Is: Purdue: Linda Lee, (AGRO); Jennifer Freeman (HHS); Bernie Engel (ABE); UNSA: Víctor Benigno Ascuña Rivera(Process Engineering); Sonia Pilar Yufra Cruz(Process Engineering)

This project focuses on developing the proof-of-concept for heavy metal contamination sensors – specifically detecting specific heavy-metals soil, plant and water media - in the Arequipa region. The two specific objectives of this project are to develop proof-of-the concept system for heavy metal contamination in water and, integrate and assess a high-energy-based plasmon mechanism for detection of heavy metal in soil and plant medium. We chose to focus on Arsenic and copper as the heavy metals for interests. We proposed arsenic and copper as the two target metals at the time of the proposal submission. Later on, based on the feedback from our UNSA colleagues, we are focusing on arsenic, and lead.

Arequipa Region Soil Vulnerability, Impairment, and Health Assessment

PIs: Purdue: Timothy Filley (EAPS); UNSA Martin Villalta (AGRO)

Co-Is: Purdue: Chi Hua-Huang (ARS- NSERL), Javier Gonzalez (ARS- NSERL), Chad Jafvert (EEE, CE), Cliff Johnston (EAPS & AGRO), Nicole Kong (libraries), W. Daniel León-Salas (SOET), Darrell Schulze (AGRO), Richard Voyles (SOET); UNSA: Juan Lopa (CHEM); José Díaz (GEO); Salome Chacon (GEO ENG)

This project will initiate the assessment of the vulnerability, metal contaminant impairment, and health of the soils supporting the agricultural activities in the grazed and cultivated lands of the Arequipa Region. Our goal is to provide the essential data, measurement, and data evaluation tools that will form the biological, geochemical, and physical basis for science-driven decision-making to promote sustainable and adaptive use of natural resources for agricultural and other land use. The proposed project contains six major objectives to be co-developed by Purdue and UNSA faculty partners:

  • Identify existing geochemical, environmental, ecological, and geospatial data related to soil, geology, contamination, and land use;
  • Identify locations for nested high-resolution physical (laboratory and sensor) agroecological observation and permanent research sites to collect proposed data (i.e. soil health, environmental properties, and contaminant impairment – such as metal contamination);
  • Create digital maps for in-field and on-line visualization of soil properties, parent material, land use and land cover, and soil health;
  • Integrate data into developing watershed management decision making support tools
  • Train UNSA faculty/staff/students and partnering stakeholders on the acquisition and use of key data to assess soil health, vulnerability, and contaminant impairment and; 6) establish UNSA laboratory and field station infrastructure with the capability to assess soil, water, and plant chemistry, dynamics, and support biogeochemical and agricultural research in Arequipa and the

Arequipa Sustainable Viticulture and Enology Center (ASVEC): Elevating the Peruvian Grape and Wine Industry into a Global Competitor

Co-PIs: Purdue: Christian Butzke (Food Sciences); University of Oklahoma: David Ebert (CS &ECE); UNSA: Hugo Lastarria (Process Engineering)

Co-Is: Purdue: Darrell Schulze (AGRO); Timothy Filley (EAPS and AGRO); UNSA: Dennis Macedo (AGRO); Edwin Jesus Pacheco Parada (Process Engineering); Pavel Kewin Delgado Sarmiento (Process Engineering)

The goal of this project is determine the requirements and feasibility of creating the Arequipa Sustainable Viticulture and Enology Center (ASVEC) based on an assessment of viticultural properties and practices. The long-term goal is to improve and expand commercial wine grape cultivation to transform the Southern Peruvian wine industry into a global competitor. The project works closely with the Purdue soil health and water projects to locate a main test site in current or potential vineyards in Arequipa and Majes. This project generates functional soil maps in coordination with the Purdue soil and water teams for determining sampling locations and differential farm treatment. Purdue and UNSA faculty have jointly held training workshops and talks, bringing together academic, local and regional growers and producers. The output of these workshops and talks informs the creation of ASVEC within the Arequipa NEXUS Institute.  

Harnessing Luminescent Radiation from Solar Cells for Agricultural and Environmental Monitoring

Co-PIs: Purdue: Walter (Daniel) Leon-Salas (SOET); UNSA: Miguel Vizcardo (Physics)

Co-Is: UNSA: Mauricio Postigo

The goal of this project is to develop a new type of wireless sensory system that uses light and solar cells for communication and power. This communication system, dubbed Optical Frequency Identification (OFID), is being pioneered by PI Leon-Salas and has promising applications in agricultural and environmental sensing scenarios. This project has the potential for developing new technology in Arequipa, the possibility of starting new businesses and the generation of patentable intellectual property for UNSA.

Determining the sources of particulate air pollution in Arequipa, Peru

Co-PIs: Purdue: Greg Michalski (EAPS), Lisa Welp (EAPS); UNSA: Adrianna Larrea Valdivia (Chemistry), Juan Reyes Larico (Chemistry)

Co-Is: UNSA: Francisco Alejo, Lino Morales (CHEM)

The Arequipa Air Quality (ARQ) project has two main research objectives. The first is to analyze particulate matter collected from the atmosphere to understand the sources of primary gaseous pollutants in the region and the chemistry that transforms these gases into particulate matter. The second objective is to set up a regional rain collection network using citizen scientist volunteers. The goal of this network is two-fold; first to use the rainfall data and samples for scientific discovery, and secondly to engage the local community in non-traditional science learning. The precipitation samples will be analyzed for water isotopes (D and 18O), dissolved anions, and S, N and O isotopes in dissolved sulfate and nitrate. This data will be complimentary to the PM data and be used to understand cloud and aerosol chemistry. The water isotope data will be used to infer rainout effects and small-scale heterogeneity in precipitation mechanisms and will be used as an “isotope end-member” in the NEXUS Water Origins project.

Engaging the local community in non-traditional science learning will follow the curriculum approaches used in the CoCoRaHS citizen science network in the US. This network is used as an online platform for educating citizens and young students about the water cycle and its importance to humanity. The project will mimic the CoCoRaHS citizen science network on a small scale in the Arequipa region, through our “Red de Participación Activa, Comunitaria y Colaborativa en el Sistema Hidrológico y Atmosférico” (PACCSHA).

Seasonal Heavy Metal Concentrations in Streams in the Arequipa Region

PIs: Purdue: Chad Jafvert (CIVL & EEE) UNSA: Betty Paredes (CHEM), Corina Vera (CHEM)

Co-Is: Purdue: Timothy Filley (EAPS & AGRO)

The overall goal of this project is to investigate the transport and speciation of metals (copper, lead, arsenic, etc.), in several rivers in the Arequipa district that are impacted by mine drainage. Of interest are the forms that each metal (and metalloid) takes within each river, from upstream to downstream and as a function of time (i.e., season).

Hence, metal transport in rivers is highly dependent on river hydrodynamics as well as the river water chemistry (i.e., humic materials, pH, hardness, O2, sediment characteristics). During the second year, we wish to instrument up to three locations with automated samplers to monitor metals in the associated stream water over time with high sampling frequency.

Capacity Strengthening for Postharvest Handling and Storage in Peru (CAST-PHS)

Co-PIs: Purdue: Dieudonné Baributsa (Entomology); UNSA: Jackeline Zanabria (Food Science)

Co-Is: Purdue: Charles Woloshuk (Botany & Plant Pathology), Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, (AG ECON Economics); UNSA: Nancy Orihuela (Electrical Engineering), Dennis Macedo (AGRO), Víctor Casa (AGRO), Nelly Ramírez (PSYCH)

The goal of this project is to address postharvest (PH) handling and storage challenges of grains in Arequipa region of Peru by enhancing the capacity of UNSA faculty, staff members and their partners (including growers’ associations and agro-processors). To achieve this goal, our project team has implemented several activities including

  1. farm visits and focus-group discussions
  2. workshops
  3. collaborative research, and
  4. a survey of farmers

The outcomes from these activities have provided important interactions with key stakeholders, training for UNSA faculty and students, and a greater understanding of postharvest management of grains in Arequipa region.

Nexus Crops CRISPR and Phenomics: Individual and Institutional Capacity Building for Crop Science at UNSA

Co-PIs: Purdue: Jian-Kang Zhu (Hort), Mitch Tuinstra (AGRO), Cankui Zhang (AGRO), Mohsen Mohammadi (AGRO); UNSA: Rosario Valderrama Valencia, Herbet Delgado Salazar, Alberto Anculle Arenas, Roxana Bardales, Mayela Mayta Anco

The project aims to establish a gene editing platform for crop improvement at UNSA, that allows UNSA to be one of the pioneers worldwide working with CRISPR in garlic, wheat and quinoa. This technique can also be expanded to other important crops. For this, it is necessary to strengthen both basic and applied research at UNSA and engage UNSA faculty in modern genetics techniques of plant breeding.

Plant-microbe interactions in agricultural soils with heavy metal contamination

Co-PIs: Purdue: Sara McMillan (ABE); UNSA: Sonia Yufra Cruz (Bio)

Co-Is: Purdue: Lori Hoagland (HORT), Ron Turco (AGRO); UNSA: Matilde Yupanqui (CHEM), Romina Rondon (BIO)

The goal of this project is to characterize the impact of heavy metals on soil microbiology, plant growth and ecosystem function in agricultural lands in Arequipa, and to identify practices that can improve soil health and reduce metal accumulation in agricultural products. This project will integrate advanced metagenomics techniques with analysis of soil, water, and plant community function to devise ecologically engineered solutions that minimize metals contamination of food crops grown in Arequipa. The project contains four main objectives:

  1. Characterize the chemical and physical properties of soil, water, and plants in urban agricultural ecosystems in the Arequipa Province;
  2. Characterize the biological function of microbial communities in the surface soils and plants;
  3. Investigate plant-microbe interactions and the influence of metal contamination on these interactions in laboratory experiments; and
  4. Quantitatively link soil health and contamination properties (Obj. 1) with microbial processes (Obj. 2&3) to develop predictive relationships of ecological function. We will be working in areas near the city of Arequipa and with differing levels of contamination.

Screening of heavy metals in traditional and commercial processed food products, and development of nutritious processed foods from Arequipa-area staple crops

Co-PIs: Purdue: Bruce Hamaker (Food Science); Grethel T. Choque Delgado

Co-Is: UNSA: Harry Yucra, Antonio E. Durand Gomez, Teresa Tejada

The goal of this project is to determine the levels of contamination by heavy metals in traditional food sources including maize, quinoa, beans and rice grains, and processed products derived from them, in critical and districts in the Region of Arequipa where the presence of heavy metals is most likely to be found. It seeks to implement or develop processes or sources of primary food that reduce contamination of food by heavy metals to safe levels. Finally, the effect of certain heavy metals on the gut microbiota, and novel food processing based on nutritional evidence and health benefits are being investigated.

Development of Good Agricultural and Manufacturing Practices Trainings for Growers and Food Processors in Arequipa, Peru

Co-PIs: Purdue: Amanda Deering (Food Science); UNSA: Mariel Alverez

Co-Is: Purdue: Haley Oliver (Food Science); UNSA: Maria del Carmen

Growing and processing foods that are safe and of high quality is important for both local consumption and export opportunities. The overarching goal of the collaborative project is to develop training programs that will educate growers and food processors in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) in Arequipa, Peru. The quality of the water used for agricultural purposes, the level of pesticide residues, and the identification of possible contamination with pathogenic bacteria that are present on commercially valuable fruits and vegetables grown in different districts of the region will be assessed.

The two objectives of this project are:

  • Develop training materials to offer education and capacity building regarding GAPs and GMPs for UNSA personnel, growers, and food processors in Peru; and
  • Analyze water quality, pesticide residues, and microbial quality of fruit and vegetables grown in Arequipa growing region.

The delivery of the workshops with UNSA faculty will facilitate future trainings to growers and food processors in the region. Additionally, the data on chemical and pathogenic bacteria contaminants will provide an understanding of the current agricultural and food processing conditions so specific areas can be targeted to improve food safety concerns through education of GAPs and GMPs for growers and food processors/handlers in the Arequipa growing region.