Hola! This summer, I had the opportunity to work in a diverse, interdisciplinary team that conducted environmental research in Arequipa, Peru. This team is part of the Arequipa Nexus Institute, which is a partnership between Purdue and Universidad Nacional de San Agustin (UNSA). The goal of NEXUS is to collect extensive datasets in the agricultural and environmental sectors of Arequipa and use this data to guide sustainable development.
I, along with three other undergraduate students, traveled to Peru in May to learn about the geography, agricultural practices, and environmental challenges of the region. While in Peru, we worked alongside Peruvian students and professors from UNSA to develop research questions and collect data.
My research project focused on soil health–specifically, heavy metal accumulation in Peruvian agricultural soils. Our team spent time at CIEPA Research Station, hand-augering holes through the dusty, rocky soil, to collect our samples. We packed-up over 100 samples that were sent back to Purdue for analysis. I spent the rest of the summer in the lab, utilizing Portable X-Ray Fluorescence technology to determine heavy metal content in the samples. At the end of the internship, I presented my data at a Purdue-UNSA poster symposium.
I loved everything about this internship; I was able to broaden my horizons (it was my first time working with soils) and make great connections and friendships at Purdue and UNSA. Additionally, the cultural immersion and intense research experience will serve me well in my future research pursuits.