Student: Jorge “Coco” Alarcon
Program: Master of Landscape Architecture, Global Health Certificate
Fellowship: Thomas Francis, Jr. Global Health Fellowship
Project Title: Green Spaces and Infectious Diseases, Strategies for Mosquito Control in Spaces
Location: Iquitos, Peru
Getting this support really encourages me to push boundaries of design and science, to create my own path, and to promote health in my field of architecture and landscape architecture.
Tell us about your project and where you were located.
As part of the global health certificate, I am focusing on relationships between green spaces, such as gardens and parks, and mosquito-borne diseases, especially those related to the Aedes mosquito, including dengue, Zika and Chikungunya among others. My project is located in Iquitos, the fifth largest city in the Peru, surrounded by the Amazon Rainforest and where Aedes is endemic. The first stage of my project includes gathering evidence for green space design, developing prototypes, and defining tools and protocols for evaluation of impacts that green spaces have on health.
Did you gain a new perspective from your fellowship? How so?
Being in the field exposes researchers to all the challenges of implementing a project. The logistics, socio-economic context, environmental conditions, and other contextual elements test our academic skills and ideas. I consider this step crucial for anyone who is interested in following the researcher path.
How has this fieldwork opportunity supported or complimented classroom learning?
This project provided me with the opportunity to learn how to lead field research. It also helped me to understand the complexity of health around the world. Being in the field clearly shows the role of social determinants of health and how to address them from a multidisciplinary perspective to improve health conditions.
How do you think the fellowship experience will impact your future work or career?
The Global Health Fellowship is setting the basis for my long-term goal of leading a career in design and research. My project in Iquitos was able to begin through this support. The Global Health Certificate and this international program jump started my thesis and capstone research, and are providing me with the tools to refine my scope and implement my ideas in a big scale. Getting this support really encourages me to push boundaries of design and science, to create my own path, and to promote health in my field of architecture and landscape architecture.
What advice do you have for students interested in fieldwork abroad?
It is a long list, but I would highlight: have a schedule, create a network of support, always use local guidance, live the culture, make time for yourself, be humble, and always stay open and positive. This is such great experience from an academic and personal perspective – always remember that.
Jorge “Coco” Alarcon is in the Master of Landscape Architecture program and getting a Certificate in Global Health at the University of Washington. Coco has 10+ years of experience leading design, construction and research of architectural, landscape architectural and health projects. His current projects include designing for urban resilience to climate change, fog water farms in Lima, Peru, and research on how landscape architectural interventions can impact human and ecological health including addressing water quality, vector-borne diseases, nutrition and mental health and well being. Coco is currently exploring relationships between landscape architecture and vector-borne diseases for his thesis and capstone for the global health certificate, as well as implementing a project in the floating communities of Iquitos, a city in the Peruvian Amazon.
Research Team: Leann Andrews, Chih-Ping Chen
Advisers: Patrick Tobin, Helvio Astete, Amy Morrison, Sonia Ampuero, Silvia Montano, Jorge O. Alarcón, Ben Spencer, Nancy Rottle, Susan Bolton, Joseph Zunt.
Peruvian Institutions: CITBM, NAMRU, INS, CIRNA, IIAP, UNAP
US Institutions: UW Department of Global Health, UW Department of Landscape Architecture, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Informal Urban Communities Initiative
To learn more about the Department’s travel fellowships, visit our Funding for Fieldwork page. Applications for the 2016 fellowships are due March 14.