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Laidlaw Faculty Projects

You will spend your first summer as a Laidlaw Scholar working on an internationally-focused research project—one that you have proposed or selected from our list of projects. Every Laidlaw Scholar must work closely with an academic supervisor or an experienced research team. 

Available faculty projects are organized by topic below; however, students are not limited to working with these faculty. If you are interested in working with any of the faculty or projects below, contact the faculty member directly. 

Keep an eye on this list as we continue to add more projects! 

Faculty who are interested in working with undergraduate research assistants on their internationally focused projects should complete our faculty project form, or email our Laidlaw coordinator

Arts & Humanities

Chiara Formichi

Project: Towards Healthy Progress: Body, Soul, and Nation in Indonesia

Professor Formichi is reading archival materials and comparative scholarly literature to explore the tension between Western and indigenous ideas about healthy practices. Examining women’s writing about nutrition, family health, and home economics will shed light on women’s political participation and the buried connections between women’s domestic work and the sociopolitical project of building a modern Indonesia. 

Student requirements: You will need to be familiar with aspects of Asian cultures, religions, and histories. Your work would include exploring relevant scholarly literature and archival research. Likely majors and minors include pre-health, Asian studies, history, and feminist studies. 

Jane-Marie Law

Project: Small Religious Communities Working on Strategies of Resilience

Professor Law's project will take place in two parts: first, a summer in central NY and second, a summer in Japan. During your first summer, you would work in central New York, learning how small-scale religious communities engage in activities promoting sustainable solutions to stresses on local food systems and ecologies. These activities include gardening, soil conversation, creative reuse of waste stream materials, reforesting, pollinator habitat creation, and other physically demanding activities. 

You will also learn to take oral histories and engage with community leaders and organizers to understand how religious paradigms are employed to frame ecologically relevant actions. Using these skills, you would work in the Kansai region of Japan to continue this work. Student requirements: You will need a basic level of fitness, interest in ecologically sustainable practices, and an ability to interact with people from faith-based traditions. Preference will be given to students with a strong interest in religious studies and/or environmental sustainability. Knowledge of Japanese is preferred.

Sherna Alexander Benjamin

Project: Quantifying the Cost of Violence against Women in Trinidad and Tobago

This study aims to identify and quantify the cost of violence against women in Trinidad and Tobago and the impact of COVID-19 on this population. It is collaborative and interdisciplinary with a specific focus on Black women in rural communities and the impact of COVID-19 on increased violence. Research findings can guide culturally specific prevention programs, public policy, victim services, programs, and support; violence against women would be quantified for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago's history.

Student requirements: You should be an excellent writer, possess analytical and communicative skills, and be familiar with aspects of Caribbean culture, issues surrounding interpersonal violence against women, and COVID-19.

Dan Schwarz

Project: French Complicity in the Holocaust during German Occupation

Professor Schwarz is writing a book that shows how fiction and films played a major role in helping France overcome historical amnesia related to the Holocaust. The book will argue that these works of fiction and film (documentary and imaginative) changed the dominant narrative in France about the occupation, the resistance, the degree of collaboration, and the French role in the Holocaust. As a student researcher, you would work closely with Schwarz and learn important research techniques, such as reading primary and secondary materials in literature, film, history, and narrative theory.

Student requirements: You should be interested in interdisciplinary work, since this project will focus on literature, European history, film, Jewish studies, and narrative. It is a plus if you can speak or read French, but this is not required. 

Timur Dogan 

Topic: Sustainable Building Technologies 

Timur Dogan is part of Cornell's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. His work empowers architects and urban designers to optimize their design proposals regarding their energy demand and supply, comfort, and livability. Dogan's research expertise is in daylighting, energy modeling, passive climate control strategies, and performance-driven design workflows in both urban and architectural scale. Reach out to Professor Dogan to learn more about his own research or propose your own project. 

Kristin Roebuck 

Topic: Indenture and Voluntary Labor Migration

Indenture is a centuries-old practice of contractual labor which experienced explosive growth in the mid-to-late nineteenth century during and after the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. Indentures bound someone to labor for a period of years, often in a foreign land, and promoted large-scale migration of impoverished people throughout the Asia-Pacific region and into Africa and the West. This research project involves surveying the extant scholarly literature on the paradoxical "abolition" yet persistence of indenture. In addition, we will locate and study relevant, digitally accessible sources from UN and other global archives. No travel or in-person archival research is required.

 

Student requirements: Research can be conducted entirely in English; or, if students have relevant foreign language expertise, in Chinese, Portuguese, French, etc. Please detail any relevant language abilities in your application.

Engineering

Rick Evans

Topic: Engineering Communications 

There are multiple project possibilities available to students interested in engineering and communications. Contact Rick Evans, director of the Engineering Communications Project, for more information on research, such as how communication instruction is or is not offered to students in their various undergraduate engineering education curriculums.

Social Sciences

Christopher Barrett

Project: Do No Harm: The Welfare Effects of Behavioral Index Insurance Interventions in Ethiopia

Building upon Barrett's work on index-based livestock insurance for pastoralists in East Africa, this project seeks to structure "do no harm" insurance contracts for livestock herders in southern Ethiopia. Circumstances permitting, this project will be collecting new household survey and field experimental data in Ethiopia, in collaboration with multiple partners. 

Project: Identifying the Rangeland Health Impacts of Index-Based Livestock Insurance

This project uses remotely sensed and administrative data to estimate the impacts of index-based livestock insurance on environmental conditions in the rangelands of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.

Project: Using Big Data and Machine Learning to Predict Poverty and Malnutrition

This project uses remotely-sensed and crowd-sourced data, along with machine-learning methods, to try to improve humanitarian agencies’ capacity to predict poverty and undernutrition in low-income regions.

Student requirements: You will need to be familiar with machine-learning methods, in addition to R and/or Python. 

Lourdes Casanova

Research Internship with the Emerging Markets Institute

Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute provides thought leadership on the role of emerging markets and emerging market multinationals in the global economy. As a research intern for the Emerging Markets Institute, you will be part of the EMI research team to assist in the creation of EMI’s annual report. This will build your familiarity with widely used databases, including CapitalIQ, Bloomberg, and Orbis, develop your skills in understanding key trends and policy issues in emerging market countries, and refine your business writing.

Matthew Saleh

Project: Implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Barbados

Saleh is working on multiple projects related to topics like global comparative disability policy, disability law, and disability and employment policy. In fall 2021, he will conduct a mini-term abroad in Barbados for his research and bring along a student research assistant during fall break. The research will focus on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Barbados, and the policy measures in place to ensure Employment First and community participation measures within the country. The research focus is exploratory and qualitative, followed by a comparative analysis of disability policy regionally in the Caribbean and globally.

Student requirements: Ideally, you will be interested in law (e.g., pre-law or law and society minor). Some training in qualitative methods is a plus, but not necessarily required.

Tristan Ivory 

Project: Sub-Saharan African Mobility and Foreign-Born Labor Market Outcomes

There are two possibilities as a research assistant for this project. The first is background research on contemporary labor markets and youth employment/preparedness in Ghana and Kenya. You would conduct a review of the literature on labor market issues in Ghana and Kenya, and how they affect the outcomes of high school and university graduates in both countries. This research will be used for background information for a paper comparing youth employment and preparedness.

The second option is background research on outcomes for foreign-born university graduates in Australia, Sweden, and the United States. You would conduct a review of the literature on contemporary policies affecting visa status and the transition to the labor market for foreign-born university graduates in the three countries. This research would be used for an ongoing collaborative project assessing labor force outcomes for these foreign-born university graduates. There will be opportunities for this student to participate in group meetings and potentially to present at an academic conference during the summer of 2022.

Student requirements: You should have excellent writing skills (will be assessed through a sample of academic writing as well as a referral from a Cornell University faculty member) and excellent reading and critical reasoning skills. You will need to have use of a personal computer and WiFi internet access.

Kate Bronfenbrenner

Topic: Contemporary Workplace and Labor Issues in a Global Context

Kate Bronfenbrenner studies labor relations, law, and history and it the director of labor education research
at the Industrial and Labor Relations School. She is open to supervising students who propose their own research project. 

Y. Connie Yuan 

Topic: How Differences in Communication Styles May Influence Intercultural Collaboration

You can work with Professor Yuan on a project of your own creation or join her as a research assistant on her current project. She teaches and conducts research in the area of organizational communication and intercultural communication. Specially, she is interested in studying knowledge management through the development of social capital, and the adoption and usage of information and communication technology. Her recent research has focused on examining how differences in communication styles may influence the effectiveness of intercultural collaboration and expertise sharing.

Wesley David Sine

Topic: Economic Sectors and Entrepreneurship

Sine's research focuses on the emergence of new economic sectors and entrepreneurship in the United States, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. He explores issues related to institutional change, industry and technology evolution, technology entrepreneurship, and new venture structure and strategy. He is looking to work with a student with data skills to help clean a data set and run analyses.

Life Sciences

Kathryn Fiorella

Project: Managing Hazardous Algal Blooms in Kenya's Lake Victoria Fisheries

Fiorella's project is collaborative and interdisciplinary, studying harmful algal blooms in Kenya. Students have the opportunity to contribute a dimension of the project that best matches their qualifications:

  1. Natural sciences, with work in fish sampling and GIS data analysis (GIS or statistical analysis skills would be an asset)
  2. Social sciences, with work in household surveying, food security data analysis, or nutritional analysis

The project's faculty co-investigators are Peter McIntyre and Christopher Barrett, who you can also contact for this project. 

Student requirements: Excellent writing and analytic skills are required. You should be communicative, have a high level of cultural competency, and be excited to contribute to an interdisciplinary project. 

Irby Lovette 

Topic: Using Genomic Approaches to Explore Processes of Speciation, Hybridization, Functional Genetics, and Diversification in Birds

Irby Lovette is based out of the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. His lab group presently centers on using genomic approaches to explore processes of speciation, hybridization, functional genetics, and diversification. He works mostly on birds, but does research on a variety of species and avian groups to address different types of questions. His group also has a long history of working on topics related to the disciplines of phylogenetics, phylogeography, comparative analysis, conservation genetics, and behavioral ecology.

Gen Meredith

Topic: Public Health

Join Gen Meredith as a research assistant if you are interested in studying public health assessment, epidemiologic disease surveillance, public health intervention planning, and public health workforce capacity building in the U.S., Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Meredith works in the College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences.