From April 3 to 8, Dean Hougen, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Computer Science, traveled with seven OU colleagues to Arequipa, Peru to meet with administrators, faculty, staff, and students of the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA) as part of a collaborative project between OU and UNSA to establish the Integrated Center for Monitoring and Control of Public Health (CMCPH) in the Arequipa region, which is focused on public health issues such as COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. This visit also brought to light other pressing health concerns for the people of Arequipa including diabetes, rabies transmission among canines, and negative health impacts from mining the mountains of the region.
Along with Prof Hougen, the interdisciplinary team from OU traveling to Peru consisted of David Ebert, Associate Vice President for Research and Partnerships, Director of the Data Institute for Societal Challenges (DISC), and Professor of Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering; Hank Jenkins-Smith, Co-Director of the National Institute for Risk and Resilience (NIRR) and Professor of Political Science; Aaron Wendelboe, Professor and Edward E. & Helen T. Bartlett Chair of Biostatistics & Epidemiology; Charles “Charlie” Kenney, Director of the Center for the Americas and Associate Professor of Political Science; Charles Nicholson, Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Andrés González, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering; and Victor Maqque, Operations Manager for the Latin American Sustainability Initiative (LASI) at OU.
While in Peru, the team met extensively with UNSA representatives including UNSA President Hugo Rojas Flores; Vice President for Research Henry G. Polanco Cornejo; and Jesús Silva Fernández, Professor of Production and Services Engineering and UNSA principal investigator for the project, numerous other faculty and students, and public health officials including Dr. Carlos Cuya Mamani, Executive Director of the Arequipa–Caylloma Health Network. They also traveled to Quequeña, Peru to see better understand the operation of regional clinics and their roles in their communities. This effort is part of a larger group of collaborative efforts between OU and UNSA to establish the Arequipa Research Institute for Global Change and Human Health.