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Laidlaw Faculty Projects

Start your search for a faculty mentor by browsing our list of research projects below. Interested in a project? Reach out directly to the faculty member to get started.

You and the faculty member will determine if you are a good fit for the project before you apply to the Laidlaw Scholars Program. You may also identify a faculty mentor who is not on this list, but every Laidlaw scholar must work closely with an academic supervisor or an experienced research team. 

Check out our full list of Einaudi Center faculty to see who is 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

Laidlaw Faculty Mentors and Projects

Keep an eye on this list, which we are continually updating with new projects!


Lourdes Casanova, Emerging Markets Institute

Project: Emerging Market Multinationals and ESG

Students on this project will collect data from databases like Capital IQ, FactSet, and fDi Markets and use it to produce graphs and analytics reports.

Learn more about the Emerging Markets Institute.

Student requirements: Experience using Excel, databases, and basic programming is useful.

Industrial and Labor Relations

Matt Saleh, Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative/Yang-Tan Institute

Project: Civil Death and Labor Market Alienation

This project entails a comparative analysis of legislation limiting access to work for the justice impacted in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Students will be asked to conduct research on legislative barriers to employment for people with convictions in all 38 OECD countries.

Collaborators on this project are compiling a new dataset of national legislation restricting access to specific areas of work for the justice impacted in the OECD. Findings illustrate that the diffusion and growth of restrictive collateral consequences to employment occurred during periods where incarceration rates were also growing across the OECD. This indicates that the growth in such lawmaking might be tied to punitive ideologies, rather than to public safety objectives and rehabilitative principles. Descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis of themes also illustrate the extent to which collateral consequences to employment are cumulative in nature: civil death by a million cuts. Over time, seemingly minor restrictions in finance, aviation, healthcare, childcare, etc. add up in ways that functionally close off access to large numbers of jobs. Moreover, as particular sectors and industries rise in political or economic importance—or their nexus to governmental function and budgets is realized—seemingly minor prohibitions tied to objectives of professionalization and public safety can result in prolonged barriers to work for people with convictions, who return home to a labor market that is increasingly artificially narrowed by legal regimes.

Student requirements: It is a plus if you are pre-law or have a background in dataset design or comparative international research.

Life Sciences 

Kurt Waldman, Global Development

Project: Climate Adaptation and Seed Choices in Zambia

This project examines how farmers select maize seeds in the context of a changing climate and an onslaught of new seed varieties. Waldman and his team use a combination of remote sensing, household surveys, and hydrological modeling to understand how extreme weather events influence when farmers plant their staple crops and which types of seeds they select. As part of this project, you will assist in developing decision support tools, data processing, and data visualization or mapping.

Student requirements: Ideally students should have some fluency in either GIS or basic statistics and visualization or graphic design. Any one or combination of these skills will be helpful.

Soon Hon Cheong, Clinical Sciences

Project: Marine Invertebrate Monitoring Using Molecular Biology Tools

Marine invertebrates are prevalent and diverse inhabitants of coral reefs and play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem's overall health. As dominant as they may be, many invertebrate species can become vulnerable due to human overexploitation and environmental degradation. Thus, regular and cost-effective monitoring of their population and distribution, especially species identified as at-risk, can help scientists and resource managers identify issues before it is too late.

Conventional field surveys are used to monitor marine invertebrate population health, but these methods have some limitations. Molecular biology techniques such as eDNA have the potential to be a powerful complementary tool to field surveys. Our collaborators at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu are interested in applying environmental DNA (eDNA) barcoding and metabarcoding to complement visual surveys to study the distribution patterns of giant clams and monitor sea cucumber populations.

Students will gain experience with molecular laboratory techniques (eDNA), learn conversational Malay, and receive cultural training in the first summer. In the second summer, students may spend six weeks in Malaysia being involved with field marine biology and laboratory work. The students are also expected to document their experience through short educational videos and articles for the Commons Biodiversity Project website.

Student requirements: To work on this project, you should be a confident swimmer for your work in the field on boats. Familiarity with geographic information systems (GIS) is preferred.

Wendy Erb, Lab of Ornithology

Project: Studying the Sounds of the Rainforest to Support Borneo's Communities

By combining bioacoustics and anthropology, thereby engaging soundscapes as experienced by local people, can we uncover previously unseen (and unheard) understandings of Borneo’s landscapes and the human and non-human communities who inhabit them?

This project explores how inclusive, sound-based research that braids together Western and Indigenous ways of knowing can lead to improved understandings of the connections among people, nature, and place. Guided by information collected during conversations with community members in Borneo, the student will analyze sound recordings collected in East Kalimantan rainforests to document the spatial and temporal patterns of locally identified important species. The student's work will support the development of educational resources aimed at promoting awareness of biological and cultural diversity in areas experiencing rapid social and ecological change.

Student requirements: No previous experience analyzing sound recordings is required, but you should have an ability to recognize patterns and a strong attention to detail. Experience or interest in science communication is a plus.

Dena Clink, Lab of Ornithology

Project: Using AI to Improve Conservation of Southeast Asian Birds

You will help compile acoustic datasets of Southeast Asian songbirds to assist local partners in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia to monitor avian biodiversity. There will be opportunities for you to learn about the methods used for automated detection/classification of acoustic signals and assist with writing peer-reviewed publications. 

Student requirements: Previous experience with or desire to learn a programming language (e.g, Python or R).

Rebecca Nelson, Integrative Plant Science and Global Development

Project: Advancing the Circular Bionutrient Economy

You 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.

If you have an interest in engineering or plant and soil science (or both), you may be a good fit for this project. 


Gunisha Kaur, Weill Cornell Medicine

Project: Digital Solutions to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in Pregnant Women

Student responsibilites on this project include a system review of medical and scientific literature related to refugee populations (including pregnant refugee women), legal rights to access healthcare, cardiovascular disease, and digital technologies. You'll join a group working on the project, but a majority of the work is individual research.

Student requirements: Applicants should be detail oriented and have excellent writing skills. 

Social Sciences

Oumar Ba, Government

Project: Crimes Against Peace and the Tokyo Tribunal

As part of this research project, you will gather, catalogue, summarize, and analyze archival materials, and primary documents related to the Tokyo Tribunal and the concept of crimes against peace.

You should have a keen interest in international history and international relations and an ability to synthesize and analyze primary and archival documents.

James Rogers, Cornell Brooks School Tech Policy Institute

Project: Emerging and Disruptive Technologies: Working at the Intersection of New Technologies and National Security

In this project, you will work with the faculty members and fellows of the Cornell Brooks Tech Policy Institute to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on the past, present, and future of emerging and disruptive technologies and their impact on international peace and security. These include AI, drones, robotics, super computing, cybersecurity, crypto, and 3-D printing.

Students will work as research assistants to TPI staff and will have the opportunity to be mentored by world-leading experts on the development of their own research project that will have the opportunity to be published as part of the TPI Policy Brief Series. This position is ideal for a self starter who has a confident passion for new technologies and national security issues.

Alexandra Blackman, Government

Project: Education in French Colonial Tunisia

In this project, the student will work with the faculty member to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on the education system and schools in the historical French protectorate of Tunisia.

Student requirements: You must be proficient in reading French.

Ding Fei, City and Regional Planning

Project: Ride-hailing Urbanism in Ethiopia and Nigeria

Work with professor Ding Fei to compile policy documents and media coverage on the platform economy in Ethiopia and Nigeria. You will survey and build a database of all active ride hailing programs in these countries and write up the histories of the ride-hailing economy and its impacts on urban mobility.

This project is good for students with an interest in urban studies and/or a familiarity with African cities. There may be the possibility to participate in fieldwork in your second summer.

Student requirements: Experience with compiling and synthesizing text information is preferred, but not required.

Carolyn Fornoff, Romance Studies

Project: Entomophagy in Mexico

This project is an investigation of the cultural practice of eating insects in Mexico that exists at the intersection of food studies, environmental studies, and cultural studies. Insects are a healthy and sustainable source of protein, and yet in many parts of the world, eating insects is taboo.

Professor Fornoff aims to better understand the science behind entomophagy: how it might help combat world hunger and reduce carbon emissions. She also aims to study entomophagy as a cultural practice in Mexico, by looking at colonial texts that describe pre-Columbian traditions of insect eating, as well as by looking at how insects continue to play a central role in Mexican culinary arts today.

Depending on the your interests, you will either help synthesize studies (in English) about the science behind entomophagy or help read and review primary sources in Spanish (including colonial codices or contemporary recipes).

Student requirements: Preferred applicants will be studying environment and sustainability, food studies, or Latin American studies. Ideally, you will be able to read Spanish, but there are also options for non-Spanish speakers to join this project.

Keith Tidball, Natural Resources and the Environment

Project: Hunting, Sustainability, and the African Wildlife Economy

Hunting is a critical component of the wildlife economy in Africa. However, hunting cultures and practices must evolve in the face of rapid urbanization and changing societal understandings. This study will focus on a growing body of evidence on the relationships between food motivations (nutrition, food safety, sustainable sourcing of protein, culinary status, etc.), acceptability of hunting among the non-hunting public in North America, and the extent to which these motivations carry into (or have potential to carry into) international hunting tourism, especially in Africa.

Student requirements: Familiarity with African wildlife and/or interest in hunting as a part of conversation is preferred.

Project: Applying Japanese "Forest Bathing" (Shinrin-yoku) to Trauma Survivors

This study will focus on the newest evidence of the relationship between forest environmental exposure and human health and will establish preliminary assessment criteria for the health efficacy of forest bathing on the human body in a post-trauma context. The aim is to provide scientific guidance for interdisciplinary integration of forestry and (alternative complimentary) medicine.

Student requirements: Japanese language skills are helpful but not required.

Chris Barrett, Applied Economics and Policy

Project: Agrifood Systems Transformation

Professor Barrett is writing a book for a popular and policymaker audience (i.e., nontechnical) on strategies for accelerating the transformation of agrifood systems around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, to promote healthier, more equitable, resilient and sustainable production, processing, distribution and consumption systems.

Student research assistants on this project will work on short literature reviews to support specific pieces of chapters.

Student requirements: An understanding of agriculture, nutrition, the food industry, and/or agroecosystems is preferred. You should have strong writing skills and excellent attention to detail.

Project: Reducing Human Suffering: Poverty, Food Insecurity, Disease

Under a new NSF-supported research project, in collaboration with biological scientists at Notre Dame and in Senegal, this project 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.

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

Project: Dry Land Innovations

In collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute and other partners, this is a long-standing research project around index-based livestock insurance in Kenya and Ethiopia. The project has ongoing survey and field experiment data collection in southern Ethiopia, and a student research assistant can help with data cleaning and analysis in Stata and mapping in ArcGIS. There is also a need for some background literature review work.

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

Valerie Reyna, Psychology

Project: Viruses, Vaccines, and Health Decision-making

This project surveys and designs interventions to assist people with making choices that promote health, examining theory-driven hypotheses about health information, misconceptions, and risk communication.