LASER PULSE, Colombian partners tackle global problems

Purdue University and its LASER PULSE consortium partners recently held a Research for Development (4RD) workshop in Bogota, Colombia, engaging 112 participants.
(L-R) Lucas Pea Lopera, of the Kroc Institute – Barmetro Initiative, Wendy Arenas, executive director of Alios – Alianzas para la Sostenibilidad, and Eduardo Bechara Gomez, representing Universidad Externado de Colombia.

Universities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) Colombia Mission participated in intensive sessions addressing three challenge areas for Colombia: integrated rural development, youth, and the Venezuela migration crisis. The event’s approach was to stimulate development research collaboration between academics and practitioners.  

PULSE (Partners for University Led Solutions Engine) in 2018 won the bid for LASER (Long-Term Assistance and Services for Research), a five-year USAID-funded (up to $70M) program led by Purdue University with partners University of Notre Dame, Indiana University, Makerere University, and Catholic Relief Services. LASER PULSE promotes a “research-to-translation value chain” for the discovery and uptake of research-sourced, evidence-based solutions to development challenges through a global network of universities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector in USAID interest countries around the world. 

Input gathered from the Oct. 1-2 sessions will be the basis of a call for proposals with the purpose of providing up to $1M in grant funding for two-year collaborations between researchers and practitioners. The resulting solutions will provide new practices or policies to advance Colombia’s development as its people and government determine their path forward.

Purdue Civil Engineering Professor Joe Sinfield leads the Comprehensive Success Factors methodology for LASER PULSE. Sinfield also is the director of the College of Engineering Innovation and Leadership Studies Program.

“With the collaboration of Purdue, we have this LASER PULSE space to consolidate ties and continue dreaming at a bigger scale, where to the extent that we all work together, the impact to the base of society will be much greater through the use of knowledge and science to transform lives and bring these people greater wealth and well-being,” said Diego Hernandez, Colombia’s Director of Colciencias.

In addition to Colombia, LASER PULSE has been supporting and managing research and translation partnerships in Cambodia, Iraq, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Laos, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. Among the current LASER-led projects for global development are programs focused on inclusive and alternative education, cultural restoration, malnutrition, integration of indigenous populations, self-reliance, and private sector engagement in development.