The SFS Center for Amazon Studies


In the heart of the Amazon, dense green foliage blankets the horizon as far as the eye can see. Here, rich natural resources have supported human populations for millennia, including indigenous groups still living in these forests. As one of the most ecologically diverse countries on the planet, Peru provides an ideal place to study a variety of ecosystems, their inhabitants, and environmental threats.

Climate change, rapid development, and extractive activities like logging and mining pose a grave threat to Peru’s dramatic landscapes and the organisms they support. From the glacial lakes and tropical montane forests of the Andes to the flooded forests of the lowlands, Peru is critically important in researching the fate of the Amazon.



Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon

Explore the lush ecosystems and extraordinary biodiversity of the north Peruvian Amazon. Study threats to the region firsthand – from climate change to resource extraction – and get at the heart of Peru’s conservation and development issues. Embark on a multi-day excursion to the Andean highlands, where you’ll hike through cloud forests and visit the historic Incan capital of Cusco, the hub for visitors to Machu Picchu.
Learn More
15 Weeks
18 Credits
Spring 2019

Jan 28 - May 8

In The Field

Fall 2019

Sep 2 - Dec 11


Spring 2020

Jan 27 - May 6


Life In The Field

Amid the vast rainforests of the Amazon, halfway between the remote city of Iquitos and the port city of Nauta, sits the Center. Campus is a small group of buildings connected by elevated walkways, and the sights and sounds of the forest are accessible via an on-campus trail system which traverses our 183-acre property. Small villages within walking distance provide access to local shops.

  • Dorm living with 2-6 person bunkrooms
  • Main building with dining area, staff offices, study space
  • Large kitchen, on-site cooking staff
  • Trail network extends from campus into rainforest
  • Traditional thatched-roof classroom
  • Swimming pool, soccer field, volleyball court, hammock huts
Click here to read stories from students, staff and faculty in the field

You can learn about the layers of the rainforest, watch nature documentaries, or look at pictures all you want, but nothing I’ve ever done can compare to the feeling of looking out over the green sea of tree canopy, or standing under 100 foot tall trees while monkeys leap from branch to branch over your head.

Lexi Donahue
Franklin & Marshall College


Research at the SFS Center for Amazon Studies focuses on ecosystem conservation and protection in the face of encroaching human development and increased use of natural resources. Students examine these impacts across a variety of ecosystems including the Amazon River, lowland rainforest, and cloud forests. As the only rainforest left of its size and biodiversity and responsible for producing 20% of the world’s oxygen, the importance of conservation research here reaches a global level.

Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Forest and soil ecology
  • Sustainable use of medicinal plants
  • Perceptions of environmental health
  • Mammal conservation
  • Forest health and recovery
  • Impacts of development in the Amazon

Environmental Issues

Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In Peru, we’re currently investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Environmental Policy
Environmental Ethics & Justice
Natural Resource & Water Management
Sustainable Livelihoods
Learn More About the Issues


The Local Community

SFS is an active member of the Iquitos region community. During the program, students interact with local people, researchers, and conservation organizations and visit nearby villages, assist with environmental awareness programs, and join local soccer matches. SFS research data is shared with the communities, local NGOs, and Peruvian government.

Meet Our Team

Laura Morales, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Tropical Ecology
Meet Laura

Lisbet Christoffersen, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Political Ecology
Meet Lisbet

Milena Cambronero, M.S.

Resident Lecturer in Conservation Science and Practice
Meet Milena

Hilcary Vasquez Melendez

Housekeeping/Gardener/Kitchen Assistant
Meet Hilcary

Emily Wayne

Program Intern
Meet Emily