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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, which we are continually updating with new projects! Or check out our full list of Einaudi Center faculty associates to see what faculty are working in your area of interest.

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

Jessica Ratcliff, Science & Technology Studies

Project: Colonialism and the History of Museums and Libraries in Britain

Working toward the publication of a book titled Natural Monopoly: Science, Empire and the East India Company in Britain, this project explores the role of colonialism and especially the East India Company in the growth of libraries, museums, and other scientific institutions in Britain in the nineteenth century. Students will conduct online archival research related to the the history of objects from Asia now in collections at institutions like the Natural History Museum London, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Museum. Students will likely work virtually and meet with Ratcliff once a week during their research. Students will be collaborating on gathering data and evidence from a variety of online sources and will populate a Zotero database with the results.

Student requirements: GIS or mapping skills are preferred, but not required. South Asian, Southeast Asian or Chinese languages may be useful but are not at all required.

Social Sciences

Isabel Perera, Government

Project: Development of Mental Health Policy in Scandinavia

Isabel Perera is an assistant professor in the department of government. Her research examines health, labor, and social policy in comparative perspective. As a student research assistant, you will search for relevant articles and government reports, summarize key texts in English, and serve as a translator with respondents during interviews. This work will be based in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Student requirements: Fluency in a Scandinavian language, preferably Norwegian and/or Swedish. Must be able to read, write, and speak.

Noah Tamarkin, Anthropology and Science & Technology Studies

Project: Forensic Genetics in South Africa as Global Investment in Carcerality

Noah Tamarkin is an assistant professor of anthropology and science and technology studies. This project is an NSF-funded ethnographic and archival project that considers South Africa's national forensic DNA database as a case towards understanding the social and legal significance of genomics, the intersection between science and law, and larger global preoccupations with securitization. The project investigates how the process of legislatively bringing the database into existence and then enacting it has fostered new national investments in forensic genetics, and, I argue, shifts from human rights frameworks to carceral ones.

This summer, Tamarkin will be building an archive from relevant materials in parliamentary and other government documents and in the traditional news media and social media. Student responsibilities would include assisting with finding and organizing these materials. There would be a possibility that in the second summer, the student could travel with Tamarkin to South Africa to help set up and coordinate contacts and a schedule for the following year's ethnographic field research. The leadership component in the second year could include developing their own mini-ethnographic project, presenting their analysis of materials collected in the first summer to project stakeholders in South Africa, or something else to be developed with the student.

Student requirements: No qualifications are set in stone for this project, but some coursework or an interest in future coursework in anthropology, science & technology studies, and/or African Studies is preferable.

Project: Anti-Human Trafficking Measures & Their Affects on Marginalized Peoples

You will conduct a literature review on the history of anti-human trafficking legal measures in the Global North with a direct eye towards the Global South and how such measures constrain the free movement of labor migrants, thus ensuring their own labor market precarity. You will be expected to attend weekly research meetings.

Student requirements: All students should have advanced skills using Microsoft Word and using cloud-based storage systems. Advanced writing and interpersonal communication skills also necessary.

Project: Gender and Resource Inequality Among Ghanaian High School Students

As a Laidlaw Scholar on this project, you will conduct a literature review on gender differences in educational outcomes and access to resources in contemporary Ghanaian society. You will also be expected to attend weekly research meetings during the summer.

Student requirements: All students should have advanced skills using Microsoft Word and using cloud-based storage systems. Advanced writing and interpersonal communication skills also necessary.

Alexandra Cirone, Government

Project: Political Dynasties in the European Union

Alexandra Cirone is an assistant professor of government who studies historical political economy, democratization, and party systems in new democracies and multilevel governance in European politics. This research project aims to collect a cross-national dataset of MEPs in the European Parliament from 1994-2014, and document the extent to which MEPs hold supranational or national (domestic) dynastic links. A particular focus will be on research and collecting data relating to gender, and other personal/family connections in EU parliament staffing.

You'll gain valuable data collection and research skills in this position while working with a team of graduate and undergraduate students.

Student requirements: Prior experience in data collection or statistics is useful but definitely NOT required. Students will learn introductory skills on the way. European languages are helpful, but again not strictly required.

Chris Barrett, Applied Economics and Policy

Project: Index-Based Livestock Insurance in Kenya and Ethiopia

In collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute and other partners, Chris Barrett has a longstanding research project around index-based livestock insurance in Kenya and Ethiopia. The project includes ongoing survey and field experiment data collection in southern Ethiopia and can use help with data cleaning and analysis in Stata, and mapping in ArcGIS. Students could also contribute to a literature review.

Student requirements: Familiarity with econometrics and Stata (or R) highly desirable. ArcGIS helpful.

Project: Health and Development in Senegal

Under a new NSF-supported research project, in collaboration with biological scientists at Notre Dame and in Senegal, Chris Barrett is exploring how to couple efforts to reduce schistosomiasis infection and to boost agricultural productivity in northern Senegal. This will involve background literature review to support bioeconomic modeling of disease-poverty linkages, as well as some field-based qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.

In summer 2023 there would be a possibility for community-based work with a local organization promoting health and development in Senegalese rural villages around schistosomiasis reduction and agricultural development.

Student requirements: Facility (not necessarily full fluency) in spoken and written French or Wolof is a help. Some experience with or study of global health or smallholder agriculture helpful.

Project: Agri-Food Systems in the Low- and Middle-Income World

A group of faculty is working with the FAO Office of the Chief Scientist to develop a new annual Agri-Food Systems Technology and Innovation Outlook (ATIO) that summarizes the present state and medium-term outlook of science-and-engineering-based technologies and broader social science-based policy innovations in agri-food systems (AFS, from primary production in farming, fishing and hunting through processing, manufacturing, and distribution, to final consumer dietary choice environments) in the low- and middle-income world that might facilitate transformation of AFS toward more healthful, equitable, productive, resilient, and sustainable outcomes. This work requires curating, assessing, and summarizing existing data sets as well as building new indicators of emergent and pre-emergence (e.g., only discussed in research papers, not yet fielded in the real world) technologies through a range of techniques, from machine learning using patent and trade industry literature data, through expert elicitation exercises, to web scraping of existing data sets. It will also require background literature review for case studies.

Other faculty on the project include Mario Herrero, Daniel Mason-D'Croz and Jaron Porciello.

Student requirements: Strong comfort with numerical data. Strong facility with Excel, Tableau, Python, R, or other quantitative software is necessary, with the exact needs varying depending on which data sub-team one joins. Ability to read languages other than English is an advantage.

Julie Ficarra, Global Development

Project: Critical and Global Equity-Driven Research on Study Abroad

The Global Collective for Study Abroad Researchers and Administrators (GC-SARA) promotes greater Global South-North collaboration and seeks to redress inequity in the field of study abroad research. Ficarra is seeking students interested in working with the Collective across two summers: the first remotely and the second in-person at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.

In your first summer, you will conduct online research towards creation of a collaborative online annotated bibliography and actively participate in administration of online meetings and events of the international collective (protocoling, member-checking, etc.) in collaboration with a post-graduate research assistant. In your second summer, you will complete your "leadership-in-action" experience by conducting a study abroad focused community-engaged field research project with a generational peer cohort at The University of the West Indies in Barbados. You will acquire qualitative data-collection skills, exploring issues of relative power and privilege in both the practice of study abroad and in the research process, together with an active engagement with research collaboration and international academic networking practices.

Student requirements: Digital communication skills (especially online events) preferred; willingness to engage cross-culturally with a high level of cultural humility is essential for the culminating research project.

Oumar Ba, Government

Project: The UN Trusteeship Council and Nuclear Colonialism

Working with Oumar Ba, assistant professor of government, you will gather, catalog, and analyze archival materials from the UN Trusteeship Council (and UNGA) meetings as they relate to nuclear tests in the second half of the twentieth century. This specific project is a part of a larger research project.

Student requirements: You should be comfortable navigating and reading digitally archived documents online, administrative documents, meeting minutes, and be generally familiar with the UN system. Interests in history, international affairs, and the Global South are also welcome.

Lourdes Casanova, Management

Project: Emerging Markets, Emerging Market Multinationals, ESG, Development

Lourdes Casanova is a senior lecturer and Gail and Rob Cañizares Director of the Emerging Markets Institute. The 2021 edition of the Emerging Market Multinationals Reports from the Emerging Markets Institute in Cornell University will mark the start of a second decade for the institute and a new phase in the global economy. In a post-pandemic world, this new decade may well be “the decade of emerging markets” as some experts claim. The 2020s are also likely to be a decade where ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) concerns will be crucial issues for business, including those in emerging economies. With the U.S. rejoining the Paris agreement, environmental concerns will need to be solved by all stakeholders including firms. Scrutiny of the firms’ governance including ethical behavior and diversity of boards and top management will become a concern for all. But, most importantly, social issues comprising poverty and inequality will need to be part of a firm’s strategy. Clients, partners, employees, and society at large expect firms to be part of the change for good.

Working with this project, you will collaborate in the Emerging Countries ranking and case studies, doing surveys and interviews with executives and emerging market leaders.

Student requirements: Knowledge of data analytics and Excel would be very useful.

Natasha Raheja, Anthropology

Project: Religious Imagery, Social Media, and Majoritarian Politics in Pakistan

How are minorities visualized in national politics? How do minoritized visual cultures enter and shape majoritarian political spheres? In Pakistan, where Hindus comprise a religious minority, the political sphere is saturated with Islamic visual and aural cues. Recent critiques of politicians within a raucous and nascent democracy however have turned to Hindu imagery, indicating a visual excess. This project traces the circulation of Hindu imagery in the Pakistani political sphere, which conventionally places a premium on Islam and fidelity to the Prophet Muhammad. As an undergraduate research assistant, you will track how digitally altered images of Pakistani politicians as Hindu gods have circulated across news channels and social media as part of “image-events”.

Student requirements: Qualified students will be proficient in Urdu and English and have basic social media data mining and image searching skills. Reading proficiency in an additional language spoken in Pakistan is a plus. Some prior knowledge of basic Hindu imagery/visual cues to identify relevant data a plus.

Juno Parreñas, Science & Technology Studies and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Project: One Welfare, Animal Retirement, & Other Hopes for Planetary Well-being

As a student researcher, you will track the global emergence of One Welfare, a platform that works to re-envision and combine veterinary, human, and environmental health together. This work will entail comparing animal retirement legislation for former laboratory animals, locating and comparing scholarship and public-facing writing produced by hubs of geriatric veterinary care, animal sanctuaries, and self-identified advocates of One Welfare. The work will also entail comparing social welfare policies and ideologies across different cultural, political, and social contexts, especially when it comes to the word "welfare."

Student requirements: Familiarity with citation management software like EndNote or Refworks would be helpful, but not necessary.

Shorna Allred, Global Development

Project: Social Conflicts over Wildlife Conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa

This research project focuses on social conflicts over wildlife conservation in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers from Cornell, Oxford University, and several universities in sub-Saharan Africa work together to understand multiple perspectives, including rural African perspectives, on contested issues such as hunting, militarized conservation, and excluding people from protected areas. 

Student requirements: Interest in wildlife conservation; interest in relationships between science and policy; interest in understanding social conflicts; strong writing and communication skills.



Beth Lyon, Law

Project: Xenophobia in Social Media and Rights in Labor Migration

A team of computer information, linguistics, and law faculty and students are building the Xenophobia Meter Project, a service to track xenophobic Twitter speech. The student would label tweets using xenophobia tracking guidelines and conduct a literature review in their chosen field of study relating to xenophobia. There is also an option for students to research migrant rights in United Nations treaty body jurisprudence. Students will meet with Beth Lyon and a team of students weekly.

Student requirements: Fluent English. An interest in international human rights law and sufficient English or Spanish to conduct research in the UN treaty body database.

Industrial and Labor Relations

Desiree LeClercq, International and Comparative Labor

Project: Tensions between International Economic Law and Labor Rights

LeClercq's project focuses on the ways in which the United States' withdrawal of trade benefits in Eswatini in 2015 impacted workers, particularly women workers. She hopes to trace trade patterns at that time to see whether those goods were redirected to South Africa. She also plans to investigate the working conditions (wages, collective bargaining agreements, trade union participation, gender equality) in the garment sector before trade benefits were provided, while trade benefits were provided, and after trade benefits were withdrawn. As a student research assistant, you would help conduct research on these elements, in partnership with a masters student at the ILR school. This work may also involve communicating with the International Labor Organization and other stakeholders in South Africa and Eswatini. In addition to researching trade and labor issues, the student will be responsible for drafting a research paper describing her or his findings.

Students interested in economic development, global trade, trade sanctions, social rights, gender rights, and Africa are encouraged to apply.

Student requirements: Familiarity with internet research engines required. Familiarity with data programs such as Excel would be a benefit.

Tristan Ivory, International and Comparative Labor

Project: Degrees of Unfreedom: How Geography, Degree Type, and Country of Origin Influence Employment Outcomes in Australia, Sweden, and the United States

As an undergraduate research assistant, you will clean U.S. and Australian survey data and then run regression models under the supervision of Ivory's Sweden-based co-author. You will also attend weekly project meetings during the summer via Zoom.

Student requirements: All students should have advanced skills using Microsoft Word and using cloud-based storage systems. Advanced writing and interpersonal communication skills also necessary. Advanced quantitative data analysis skills (especially with Stata or R) are a prerequisite for this project.

Life Sciences 

Rebecca Nelson, Plant Science and Global Development

Project: Advancing the Circular Bionutrient Economy

There are two open positions for student research assistants to join this project, a global study about ways to create sustainable and environmentally friendly fertilizers. It addresses food security, soil health, sanitation practices, and concerns of reusing human waste. Student research assistants will work with an interdisciplinary group to refine and characterize low-tech methods to produce soil from waste streams. Work can include interaction with Soil Factory Network members in Ithaca, Kenya, and India, as well as the City of Ithaca, Burning Man Project, Poverty Health Integrated Solutions, and Sanitation First. Selected students will meet weekly with project leaders and work closely with a post-doctoral fellow. Research on the AmberWave@Caldwell is possible, as is work with the project partner in Kenya. 

Student requirements: Ideal candidates will be interested in engineering or plant and soil science. 

Kathryn Fiorella, Public and Ecosystem Health

Project: Health & Livelihood Risks of Harmful Algal Blooms in Kenya

Kathryn Fiorella is an associate professor of public and ecosystem health in the Cornell Vet School. She studies Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Kenya, which are receiving growing attention globally because they pose a significant threat to human health and livelihoods by the toxins they produce. This project offers an opportunity for Laidlaw Scholars to contribute to multiple potential objectives. The team would look forward to developing a specific set of objectives based on your student interests and course experience. The study offers both literature- and field-based options for student data collection. For field-based data collection, the successful student would be based at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), with a trip duration of at least three weeks. During this period, the student will be inducted into Lake Victoria research and assisted to access riparian fishing households for interviews.

Student requirements: There is flexibility given the breadth of the project and professor Fiorella is interested to hear from students what skillsets they bring and where their interests in the project lie so the team can work together to create a tailored project for interested students.

Information Science

Aleksandr Michuda, Center for Data Science for Enterprise and Society

Project: Urban Labor Supply Responses to Rural Drought Shocks: Uber in Uganda

Aleksandr Michuda is an assistant research professor at Cornell's Center for Data Science for Enterprise and Society. He studies how new technologies change the structure of the labor market. This project will involve using data from a boda-boda ride-share application to study how it has changed the labor market in Uganda. In order to do this, Michuda uses machine learning (backed up anthro-linguistic evidence) to study the links between rural and urban sectors and how this ride-share application can be used to help against adverse weather events. As a student research assistant, you would have responsibilities including reading the literature, becoming familiar with cutting edge tools, thinking of interesting ideas that you can take ownership of and coding up analyses.

There is the possibility to conduct surveys in Kampala, Uganda, which may include field work and closer engagement with the community of boda-boda drivers in Kampala. This would open the door to traveling to Uganda, working with local stakeholders and conducting research meant to improve the livelihoods of people.

Student requirements: Preferably, you will have skills in coding, but if you are interested in the topics and willing to learn, you can and should still talk to professor Michuda. You should be willing to read and ask questions about current research in economics.