ecuador field research and service learning program

Ecuador Field Research and Service Learning Program

Summer 2018: 

June 15th - July 2nd*

Primary Care Program Time in-country may be extended to do laboratory research

Directed by Mario J. Grijalva, Ph.D.

- Earn up to 15 semester credit hours -
Last updated on 02/01/2017 01:50 PM

*approximate dates. May be subject to change and cancellation

Click Here to Apply! Application Deadline:    TuesdayMarch 15th 2018

Key Information:

Dates:  June 15 - July 2 (subject to change)

Eligibility:  Students from institutions of higher education (undergraduate, graduate, medical, non-degree), professionals and community members interested in international research related to health, development and community education; individuals interested in service learning; individuals interested in improving their Spanish skills.

Deadline:   March 5th, 2018 - Rolling admission. Priority admission will go to those who apply by January 6.

Cost:  Cost will vary according to length of stay and program component. Please refer to the budget worksheets below.


Contact:  Mario J. Grijalva, 333 Irvine Hall,  
(740) 593 2192; (740) 597 2778 (Fax)

Program Summary


Video with ITDI directory and students

Video with ITDI students

Click an image
to watch videos
about the program

17th Tropical Disease Research Program
Summer 2018

The Ecuador Field Research and Service Learning program is a result of 18+ years of collaboration between the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) at Ohio University and the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL). Following their research principles, ITDI and CISeAL aim to reach underserved populations with state of the art training and technology to help control the transmission of Chagas disease and other infectious and chronic conditions affecting populations in Ecuador and Latin America. Since early 2000, teams of biologist, entomologists, health practitioners, architects and development specialists have conducted research on Chagas disease and its transmission cycles in several areas of Ecuador. Students with academic interests as diverse as microbiology to anthropology to Spanish language to communication studies have come together to participate in this initiative.

Program Dates (subject to change)

Option 1Community based – Tropical Disease Research June 15th to July 2 nd, 2018

Option 2: Intercultural Communication Experience – June 15 th to July 2 nd, 2018

Option 3: Multimedia Field Production – June 15 th to July 2 nd, 2018

Option 4: Laboratory Research at CISeAL – Variable May 6th to August 19th, 2018 (Weekly Rate, Minimum 2 weeks).  *May be in addition to or separate from Options 1, 2 & 3

Detailed Description of the Program Components
Option 1: Community Based-Tropical Disease Research

Location: Quito and Loja Province

ITDI is combining scientific research and local knowledge to build living environments that deter Chagas, a preventable yet neglected infectious disease that has infected more than 7 million people worldwide. Students who participate in this program will be able to take part of the effort to develop sustainable solutions to Chagas disease through the Healthy Living Initiative. Our ongoing projects work to:

- improve infrastructure

- promote healthy living practices, and

- increase income generation.

The primary function is to facilitate community-based efforts that lead to the improvement of living environments found to be susceptible to infestation by the “kissing bugs” that transmit Chagas disease. Specific projects vary based on the needs of the community and availability of resources, but the following are examples of the type of work that will be conducted:

  • Entomological surveys.
  • Housing questionnaires and infrastructure assessments.
  • Parasitological research.
  • Mosquito-Borne and Chagas disease knowledge evaluation (Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Malaria).
  • Home-based health promotion.
  • Participation in the construction of houses that prevent bug infestation (“anti-chagas” houses).
  • Community education in elementary schools, as well as to groups of adults
  • Environmental assessments

Students will participate in both research and service activities. All participants will learn about different models and philosophies of service learning and participate in regular group reflections while contributing to the creation of conditions that prevent and control Chagas disease and promote health.

For more information on this component, students can e-mail Dr. Mario Grijalva, Director ITDI,        

Option 2: Intercultural Communication Experience

While participating in the above described research and service-learning activities, students will enroll in COMS 1100, a tier-2 course that explores the relationship between culture and communication. Students in this course will understand that culture includes not only issues of nationality, ethnicity, and race, but also gender, socioeconomic status, age, etc. Using a number of co-cultural, cross-cultural, and intercultural examples, students will explore how communication is a key component of bridging cultural differences.

This program will allow communication students to gain unparalleled experiences by being embedded in interdisciplinary teams as they engage in various types of research and service-oriented work. A special section of COMS 4800, a Tier 3 class, is available for students who have already completed COMS 1100.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Benjamin Bates,,  Professor, Scripps College of Communication

Option 3: Multimedia Field Production

Communication students interested in production will create non-fiction multi-media projects documenting the work being done to mitigate the effects of Chagas in Loja Province, Ecuador. Students will also participate in research and service learning as described above, but their primary responsibilities will focus on some or all of the following while in the field:

  • Multi-platform news reporting
  • Multi-platform documentary production
  • Written and photographic science communication

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Hans Meyer, 

Option 4: Laboratory Research at CISeAL- Variable May 6- Aug 19 (Weekly Rate, Minimum 2 Weeks)

A limited number of participants can focus their participation in this summer program on laboratory work to be conducted at the Center for Research in Health in Latin America (CISeAL) to extend their stay in Quito. Participants will be able to process biological samples and data previously collected by researchers affiliated to CISeAL. Laboratory research includes but is not limited to:

  • Mosquito biology, physiology and control, led by Dr. Marco Neira;
  • Molecular biology toward Malaria elimination in Ecuador, led by Dr. Fabian Saenz;
  • Chagas disease biology, ecology risk factors, vector population dynamics and molecular biology, led by Drs. Sofia Ocana, Anita Villacis and Jaime Costales.
  • Clinical research and blood banks referral unit – led by Rosa Chiriboga, MA
  • Evaluation of social and biomedical program, led by Dr. Ana Lucia Moncayo.

Exact placements are subject to change.

For more information on this opportunity contact:

Dr. Mario Grijalva:   
The Global Health Initiative:   
The Office of Global Opportunities (Education  Abroad)  

International Arrival and Departure Options

Participants will be responsible for booking their own airfare (which is paid for by participants separately from the program fee and tuition costs) after accepting the nomination to the program. Participants fly into Quito on the start date of the program, and the program will arrange for individual airport transfers. No one should book their airfare prior to receiving instructions from program staff to do so.  If a participant intends to arrive early, they will be responsible for airport transfer and lodging until the start date of the program. If a participant intends to stay late, they will also be responsible for lodging and airport transfer after the program. If customizing dates because of participation in the lab component, the program will arrange airport transfers for you.


(Click link to view/download PDF)

Undergraduate Student

Graduate Student

Medical Student

Lab Component

Course Information

The number of semester credits available will vary with length of participation and will match the Student's academic program needs.  A non-credit option is available for non-OHIO students.

Below is a selection of courses that students can enroll in (additional courses may be able to be arranged upon request):

Undergraduate Students-Minimum 5 hours

  • BIOS 4910 - Internship: International Research – 1-3
  • BIOS 4930  - Topics in Biological Sciences: Tropical Disease Research - 1-2
  • BIOS 4940  - Undergraduate Research - 1-2*
  • BIOS 4940  - Undergraduate Research - 1-2*
  • BIOS 4940  - Undergraduate Research - 1-2*
  • HLTH 4930  - Independent Studies – 4
  • COMS 1100 – Communication Among Cultures (Tier 2 course) – 3
  • COMS 4800 –Capstone Seminar in Communication  (Tier 3 course)- 3
  • COMS 4900 – Special Topics in Comm Studies – 3
  • JOUR 4900 – Special Topics in Journalism – 3
  • MDIA 4900 – Special Topics in Media Arts and Studies – 3
  • T3 4103c – Undergraduate Service Learning in Ecuador (Tier 3 course)- 5

*multiple sections may be taken to reach the minimum of 5 credit hours

Graduate Students-Minimum 9 Credits

  • BIOS 6820  - Advanced Topics: International Health - 1-4*
  • BIOS 6950  - Masters Research & Thesis - 1-15
  • BIOS 8950  - Doctoral Dissertation - 1-15
  • INST 6930  - Independent Study: Development, Communications, & LA Culture - 1-5
  • INST 6930  - Independent Study - 4
  • INST 6940  - Practicum in Community Outreach: Health Issues in Ecuador - 2

*multiple sections may be taken to reach the minimum number of credit hours

Non credit available for students not attending Ohio University. 

Enrollment and eligibility

This multidisciplinary program is open to students interested in international studies, health and medicine, the environment, international development, health education, intercultural communication, health communication, international relief work, biology, engineering, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, economics, and others.  Undergraduate, graduate, and medical students  are encouraged to apply. Special arrangements can also be made for faculty and other professionals interested in participating. Students of all higher education institutions in the United States and abroad are eligible to apply.

 Please check the  Policy on Judicial Standing for Study Abroad Participants

Cost of the program

·          Actual costs will depend on the Program Component selected.

·          Program fee and tuition will cover the following participant expenses in country:

o     food

o     lodging

o     transportation

o     logistics

o     health insurance.

A backup credit card and/or an ATM card is a good idea in the event of unforeseen expenses. Access to functional ATMs outside of Quito can be unreliable so you do need to bring enough cash for the duration of the experience. We do not recommend traveler’s checks.


Actions required: How to Apply 


OHIO University Students:  Complete the  GOIS On-line Program Application

Year 3 & 4 Heritage College medical students  applying for faculty directed programs must also obtain and send a letter from your Clinical Education office confirming that you have permission to include the program in your schedule and that you are in good academic standing.

Academic and Judicial Checks:  an academic and judicial check on all OHIO students is conducted after application and prior to departure. Students who will be on judicial probation at the dates of the experience will not be eligible to apply (check policy with the Office of Global Opportunities).

Non-OHIO students:  Non Ohio Students

Under graduates: Follow this link to enroll as non degree student before you apply to the Tropical Disease Research Program

Graduate students: Follow  this link to enroll as non degree student before you apply to the Tropical Disease Research Program

Once students have been notified of their nomination into the program, students will have two weeks to accept or decline their nomination through the GOIS system. Your Health Information Form will need to be filled out at this time as well. 

A non refundable deposit will be required upon acceptance into the program. The deposit will be applied to the program costs and deducted from the participant’s bill.

Post Nomination Checklist:  Please refer to the  Global Health Program Checklist  for instructions on submitting additional information once you have been nominated for a program. This checklist also includes information on course registration for programs.

Registration:   All participants will need to work with Dr. Grijalva to select their courses.  Off-campus, non-OHIO and non-credit students can contact for the OHIO Office of Global Opportunities for additional instructions or help as needed.

Once accepted, participants will be required to complete additional paperwork in OGO, including registering with the U.S. Department of State and completing a Confirmation Form, enrolling in international health insurance, and providing documentation of immunizations, your travel itinerary and copy of your passport information page. You will also be asked to send in a digital passport sized photo.

Final payment will be posted to your Ohio University Student Account and due in Mid-May.  You WILL NOT receive an invoice by mail. To avoid paying late fees, you will need to use your OHIO ID to check your OHIO student account regularly to pay the program fees.


Useful Information

Continuously updated, questions submitted about the program will be posted here 

A series of 10 podcasts showcasing the different activities within the program.

A series of 3 videos in YouTube where participants narrate their experiences during the Summer 2009 program.

Listing of internal and external funding sources for participation in ITDI sponsored programs.

A list of suggested supplies, clothing and other items.

Vaccinations required, anti-malaria prophylaxis, etc.

TDI programs have an excellent safety record. See details about the logistical arrangements, email access, etc.

The OHIO-Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has adopted the AAMC’s “Guidelines for Premedical and Medical Students Providing Patient Care During Clinical Experiences Abroad”.

Other resources

Information about Ecuador: News and Media, Tourism, Cities, Culture, etc.

Information about protozoan, bacterial, Viral diseases and relevant organizations