IRAEA funds research scholarships for undergraduate students from a wide-range of disciplines to participate in faculty-led research projects that address issues relevant to the IRAEA mission. Awards are available for semester-, academic year-, and summer-length research projects. Additional support is available for student travel to regional or national conferences at which the student presents the results of the sponsored research project.

With IRAEA undergraduate research scholarships, faculty and students have the opportunity to explore academic interests beyond the classroom. Students get hands-on experience with research and acquire academic and professional skills and credentials, and faculty get help with their research projects. Faculty at MSU must apply on behalf of student researchers.

Listing your IRAEA-related research opportuities or indicating your willingness to be an undergraduate research mentor is a great help in this work. Thank you for your dedication to undergraduate learning and IRAEA's mission to engage students in faculty-led research. Learn more about the IRAEA Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

You are welcome to add a broad, general posting to our Research Opportunities Database. You may simply summarize some of your research interests or project ideas and ask students to contact you if they are interested in pursuing a project. This type of posting is particularly useful for social science, humanities, and arts research where structured positions are less common and undergraduate research proceeds in an independent study model.

By posting your undergraduate research opportunity, students will be able to:

  • Gather project ideas based upon their field interests
  • Read your project description and research opportunity
  • E-mail you if they are interested in the opportunity


Some key components of a position description*:

  • Brief description of the research project (may also include duration, whether it is available for more than one semester)
  • Potential role for the student(s) and any specific tasks that the student(s) would be performing
  • Potential student benefits and learning outcomes
  • Project Expectations, outlined on the application page
  • Estimated number of hours per week you anticipate the student will work on the project
  • Minimum qualifications required (e.g., specify skills or prerequisite coursework)
  • Award amounts, which are in the range of $1,500-$2,000, and opportunity for additional support for travel to regional or national conferences to present their research
  • A link to the application page, of which you'd be submitting on their behalf

*If you don’t have a specific project in mind but are willing to mentor a student project, please indicate in the description.

 Human Trafficking: The Impact of Policy on Identification and Prosecution 

Undergraduate Research Scholarship Application 

Faculty Member Wendy Stock Professor of Economics Department of Agricultural Economics & Economics [email protected] 

Student NAME, Directed Interdisciplinary Studies: Economics, Political Science, and Sociology, Student EMAIL 

1. A brief description of the research project (no more than 400 words), including a clear research plan and a clear statement of the relevance of the project to the mission of the initiative. 

How do federal and state human trafficking legislation (and included programs) impact the number of human trafficking cases identified and prosecuted in the United States? The hypothesis of this study is human trafficking legislation increases the number of trafficking cases identified and prosecuted, and that more comprehensive policy yields higher rates of identification and prosecution. The goal of this research is to examine the impact (if any) of legislation on identification and prosecution to determine the most effective policies at increasing these rates. 

Human trafficking is a “hidden crime,” which makes estimating its prevalence difficult and current statistics unreliable.1 Thus, analyzing the impact of human trafficking legislation on the prevalence of the crime presents a challenge and gap in knowledge.2 

1Davy, D. (2016). Anti-Human trafficking interventions: How do we know if they are working? American Journal of Evaluation. 37:4, 486-504. 2 Farrell, A., DeLateur, J. M., Owens, C. and Fahy, S. (2016). The prosecution of state-level human trafficking cases in the United States. Anti-Trafficking Review. 1:6, 48–70. 

Moreover, not as many cases of trafficking have been identified as predicted based on estimates of the scope of the crime.3 Studies propose explanations for the “lower-than-expected numbers of prosecutions and identified victims,”4 including weak or unenforced human trafficking legislation. The characteristics of the legislation often determine the amount of resources and agency coordination in anti-trafficking efforts.5 

This study will examine the impact of human trafficking legislation (the independent variable) on outcome variables including the number of human trafficking cases identified and prosecuted from 2000 to 2016. This can be broken down into the creation of three key data sets, including 1) enactment year of state and federal human trafficking legislation and their respective classification within categories pertaining to criminalization, state investment, and civil remedies, 2) the number of human trafficking cases identified, measured by significant calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and Uniform Crime Reports and state-level crime data, and 3) the number of federal and state prosecutions under human trafficking legislation using Uniform Crime Report data, reports from non-profit human trafficking agencies, and state level reports. This study is modeled after methods employed in similar research; after data collection, we will analyze the impact (if any) of legislation using regression analysis, comparison of means tests, and other statistical modeling.6 Ultimately, this research will examine the number of cases identified and prosecuted to assess the impact of different policies. 

This research is relevant to the Initiative’s mission because it examines the impact of policy on public safety and general societal well-being. Human trafficking is not only a violation of human rights, but also a growing and relevant crime and public health issue globally, in the United States, and in Montana.7 Understanding the impact of legislation on identification and prosecution is crucial in order to effectively combat the crime. 

3 Farrell, A, McDevitt, J, Pfeffer, R, Fahy, S, Owens, C, Dank, M, & Adams, W. (2012). “Identifying challenges to improve the investigation and prosecution of state and local human trafficking cases.” Northeastern University and Urban Institute. 4 Page 204 in Farrell, Amy, Jack McDevitt and Stephanie Fahy. (2010). "Where are all the victims? Understanding the determinants of official identification of human trafficking incidents.” Criminology & Public Policy. Vol. 9 (2). 5 Weitzer, R. (2014). New directions in research on human trafficking. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 653 (1), 6-24. 6 Bouche, V., Farrell, A., & Wittmer, D. (2016). Identifying effective counter-trafficking programs and practices in the U.S.: Legislative, legal, and public opinion strategies that work. United State Department of Justice: NCJRS. 249670. 7 Kara, S. A. (2009). Sex trafficking: Inside the business of modern slavery. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. 

2. A brief description of the role of the student in the project (no more than 200 words), the expected weekly number of hours the student will commit to the project, the amount of support requested for the student, and a budget justification. 

The Student will compile and code data regarding characteristics of state and federal human trafficking laws and state and federal prosecution and identification data for human trafficking, will examine relevant studies in a comprehensive literature review, and will work with Dr. Stock to analyze the data with statistical regressions and modeling. The data will primarily be gathered from sources including the Uniform Crime Reports, state and federal reports and documents, previous studies, and data from non-profits including Polaris International, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The STUDENT and Dr. Stock will hold weekly meetings to discuss and further the data gathering and research effort. 

The expected time commitment is eight hours per week at $15 dollars an hour (8 hours x $15 = $120, $120 x 12 weeks = $1,440). The requested budget also includes expenses for journal article access and books ($60), for a total of $1,500. 

3. A brief statement of the expected outcomes of the project (no more than 150 words), including the journal(s) to which the research paper will be submitted and anticipated submission date. 

This research aims to fill a gap in knowledge identified by researchers about the effectiveness of human trafficking laws on identifying and prosecuting human trafficking cases.1 In other words, this is research examines the impact of laws on identification and prosecution, not the impact of the laws on reducing the crime. This will provide a springboard for further study into the impact of human trafficking laws on the crime itself. 

The outcomes of this research include a presentation at a conference and submission to journal. There are many relevant conferences the student expects to attend, including the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference, Wichita Human Trafficking Conference, and MSU's Undergraduate Research Conference. A separate request for funding for The STUDENT to present the research at one of these conferences will be submitted later this spring. 

Potential journals to which the resulting academic research papers could be submitted include the Journal of Public Economics, Contemporary Economic Policy, and Anti-Trafficking Review. The research paper is anticipated to be ready for submission in late Fall 2018. 

4. A brief description of the qualifications of the student to conduct the research (no more than 100 words). 

The STUDENT is a sophomore in the Directed Interdisciplinary Studies (DIS) degree program. Her degree combines economics, political science, and sociology to achieve a deeper understanding of human rights and inequality, as well as the institutions that play a significant role in shaping individual’s lives. Her senior research project, which will culminate from all four years study at MSU, is focused on human trafficking. She has previous research experience working with a professor of Political Science at MSU, is an Undergraduate Scholars Program Grant Recipient for the 2017/2018 academic year, and is pursuing a career in human rights work. 

5. The student’s curriculum vita (including the student’s GPA at the end of the previous semester). 

Please see attached document(s). 


Post a Research Opportunity

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Research Project
Insert your research project title
Insert your research project description or indicate your willingness to develop a project with interested undergraduate students in your field
Provide a brief work plan, estimated number of hours per week/duration of project, and expectations of the student researcher. Also provide potential student benefits and learning outcomes.
Specify skills or prerequisite coursework.