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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

Business

Lourdes Casanova, Management

Project: Emerging Market Multinationals as an Engine for Development

Lourdes Casanova is a senior lecturer and Gail and Rob Cañizares Director of the Emerging Markets Institute. Working with this project, you will become familiar with databases such as Capital IQ, ORBIS, CB insights, World Bank and IMF download, analyze data, and prepare graphics to present data for the 2022 EMI report. You may also do surveys and interviews with executives and emerging market leaders.

Student requirements: Experience with data bases and data analytics and good writing skills.

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.

Law

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: African Futures Project

This is a project support position for the African Futures Project, a multi-year longitudinal interview project that assesses the educational, labor, and migration outcomes of a cohort of high school students in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. The undergraduate research assistant will be responsible for assisting on coding and analyzing participant data (survey responses and interview transcripts) and will report directly to the Tristan Ivory, an assistant professor of international and comparative labor.

Regular job responsibilities will include: imputing and archiving interview data on a secure cloud storage service, attending monthly research meetings with the project team, maintaining a record of work tasks and progress made on long-term projects, providing quarterly progress summaries on the project, and assisting with data analysis. Occasional domestic and international travel may be required (covered by project).

Student requirements: Experience with data entry and spreadsheets is preferred, as well as good verbal and writing skills. Fluency in other languages and experience with data management software are also a plus.

Engineering

Jonathan Butcher, Biomedical Engineering

Project: Calcific Aortic Valve Disease

Jonathan Butcher currently directs the Cardiovascular Developmental Bioengineering Laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. As a student research assistant, you will help with the investigation of Cadherin 11 conjugation to inflammatory valve tissue to aid in finding therapeutic effects. The project entails cell culture.

Student requirements: Cell culture experience would be beneficial but not required.

Life Sciences 

Dena Clink, Conservation Bioacoustics

Project: Using AI to Improve Conservation of Southeast Asian Birds

As a student research assistant for Dena Clink, the lead scientist for the Southeast Asia Project at the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at the Cornell Lab, you will help compile acoustic datasets of Southeast Asian songbirds to assist our local partners in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia to monitor avian biodiversity. There will be opportunities to learn about the methods used for automated detection/classification of acoustic signals and assist with writing peer-reviewed publications.

Student requirements: Ideal candidates will have previous experience with or desire to learn a programming language (e.g., Python or R).

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.

Medicine/Health

Gunisha Kaur, Anesthesiology

Project: Refugee Cohort Study

Gunisha Kaur is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. As part of this project, you'll work to understand the influence of migration stress (e.g., lack of housing, family separation, immigration detention) on cardiovascular disease and risk factors. We will also evaluate the relationship between migration stress and mental health illness as a secondary outcome.

Student requirements: Spanish or French skills are greatly appreciated, but not a requirement. Any prior research in basic science or clinical trials also appreciated.

Social Sciences

Rachel Bezner Kerr, Global Development

Project: Agroecological Research in Malawi

This research project is examining the viability of agroecological farming approaches in Malawi. As a student research assistant, you will assist with a photo-voice project that has collected photos from farmers who documented their experience with agroecological methods. In addition to helping sort these photos, you may also help with survey data cleaning from a related project or help with literature searches for new research projects related to agroecology, climate change, and health outcomes.

Student requirements: Some skills with Excel or statistical programs (e.g., SPSS or Stata) would be beneficial. Should have some background in agroecology or related sustainable agriculture or food systems and social justice related knowledge. Ability to work with social media and website updates is a bonus but not required.

Jenny Goldstein, Global Development

Project: Assessing Seaweed's Potential as a Global Climate Technology

Jenny Goldstein is an assistant professor of global development whose work is driven by interests in environmental conservation and development in the tropics; intersections of data infrastructure and land governance; human health impacts of ecological change; global food and agriculture systems; the financialization of land; and the role of scientific knowledge in climate change politics.

This project will investigate the current socio-political and technological status, potential, and obstacles of using algae (both micro and macro) to respond to climate-related challenges including carbon emissions sequestration and biofuel development, with an emphasis on Southeast Asia. The student will conduct a guided scholarly literature review of journal articles and web search for relevant actors and technologies, and write a final research paper.

Student requirements: Interested students should be interested in the qualitative social sciences and have experience with Word, reference management software (e.g. Zotero), strong organizational capacity, and good writing skills. Interest in Southeast Asia is a plus.

Norman Uphoff, Global Development

Project: Extending Opportunities to Benefit from System of Rice Intensification

Norman Uphoff is professor emeritus of government and international agriculture. This project involves helping Uphoff in his role as SRI-Rice senior advisor to monitor and summarize progress with SRI, improving our presence on the web, and mapping the spread of the use of SRI which as already been validated in over 60 countries.

Student requirements: Web and social media skills are desirable, but individual assignments will be tailored to take advantage of the research assistant's interests and disciplinary training.

Keith Tidball, Natural Resources and the Environment

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

Keith Tidball is assistant director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. 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.

Matt Saleh, Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability

Project: Disability Employment Policy in Barbados

Matt Saleh is a senior research associate with Cornell's Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. As part of this project, you would help build on the policy research that three Laidlaw scholars contributed to last summer. The goal this summer will be to finalize a research paper on disability law and policy in Barbados, with an emphasis on efforts to implement and incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This research will go towards informing a "mini-term abroad" (funded by Engaged Cornell) in Barbados in 2023.

Student requirements: Some experience with disability studies coursework or studies and background in qualitative research and/or legal studies.

Isabel Perera, Government

Project: Info Coming Soon

Isabel Perera is an assistant professor in the department of government. Her research examines health, labor, and social policy in comparative perspective. 

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.

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: Morally Contested Conservation: Evidence to Inform Policy

Shorna Allred is a professor of natural resources and the environment in global development. This research project studies social conflicts over wildlife conservation in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers from Cornell, Oxford University, and several African universities work together to understand multiple perspectives, including rural African perspectives, on contested issues such as hunting, militarized conservation, and punishments for wildlife crime. There are opportunities for scholars to become involved in field, online, and desk-based research.

We are especially keen to hear from students who are Student responsibilities will vary depending on whether they are involved in field, online, or desk-based aspects of research.

Student requirements: Interest in wildlife conservation and relationships between science and policy. Strong writing and communication skills.