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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

Social Sciences

Jessica Ratcliff

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.

Isabel Perera

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

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.

Tristan Ivory

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.

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

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.


Beth Lyon

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.

Life Sciences 

Rebecca Nelson 

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

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

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.