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2022–2023 Summer Full-Time Undergraduate RFs

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Effects of Household Concrete Floors on Child Health

Soil-transmitted helminth infections and diarrhea are responsible for a large burden of morbidity and mortality among children under 5 years and are associated with increased growth faltering, anemia, impaired child development, and mortality. Observational studies have found that children in households with concrete floors have a lower prevalence of diarrhea and soil-transmitted helminth infection than those in households with soil floors. However, these findings may be strongly confounded by household wealth. We are conducting a randomized trial in rural Bangladesh to measure whether installing concrete floors in households with soil floors reduces child enteric infection. 

Faculty supervisor:Jade Benjamin-Chung, School of Medicine - Health Research & Policy Department
Focus country(ies): Bangladesh  
Cardinal Quarter community partner: International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research 
Research fellow: Gabby Barratt Heitmann, ‘24, Earth Systems 

Emollient Therapy for Improved Survival and Growth of Very Low Birth Weight Infants in Zimbabwe

Up to 30% of neonatal deaths occur in very low birthweight [VLBW, <1500 grams (g)] infants. These vulnerable infants have a poorly developed and dysfunctional skin barrier, which puts them at risk for loss of water and heat and penetration of pathogens into the bloodstream through the skin, resulting in poor growth and mortality. Mortality among VLBW infants is 50% at Zimbabwe’s top public neonatal care unit at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, which is representative of sub-Saharan Africa. Oil massage of newborns is a widespread practice throughout Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean region, but studies of locally available products and oils routinely applied to newborn infants in high-mortality regions show harmful effects. In several countries in Asia, emollient therapy with sunflower seed oil (SSO) in VLBW infants has been shown to improve skin barrier function, reduce the risk for bloodstream proven infections, and enhance growth during the neonatal period. Data on the impact of emollient therapy on neonatal mortality is limited – especially from Africa – but suggestive of a 25% reduction. Additional data is needed to inform global guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO) on emollient therapy for hospitalized VLBW infants. In November the WHO issued a global recommendation for use of emollient therapy in preterm/low birthweight infants, but this was “conditional” based on lack of sufficient data to determine whether emollient therapy reduces risk for mortality. 

The Specific Aims for a trial which I am in the process of launching in Zimbabwe are: 1) Compare mortality rates for VLBW infants treated with SSO vs. control while hospitalized for up to 28 completed days. 2) Compare growth rates for VLBW infants treated with SSO vs. control while hospitalized for up to 28 completed days. 3) Model the causal connection of neonatal weight gain with mortality. 

Faculty supervisor: Gary Darmstadt, School of Medicine - Pediatrics Department
Focus country(ies): Zimbabwe  
Cardinal Quarter community partner: Child and Adolescent Health Unit, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe
Research fellow: Aiyana Austin, ‘24, Human Biology 

Improving Field-appropriate Lead Detection Methods for Human and Environmental Samples

Lead is a potential neurotoxin and poses a serious threat to public health and human intellectual capital worldwide. While no levels of lead exposure are considered safe for humans, lead is particularly detrimental to children during the developmental period of their central nervous systems. Our past research in various countries worldwide has identified a need for field-appropriate rapid lead detection methods for both human and environmental samples. 

This project has two aims. The first aim is to improve lead detection for paint, a known source of lead exposure in many parts of the world. The current gold standard approach relies on complex laboratory analyses which are not practical for low-resource settings. The second aim is to assess the feasibility of non-invasive methods to measure the human lead burden. As venous blood draw is an invasive procedure, which requires cold storage and highly sophisticated, expensive laboratory analyses, our aim is to ascertain the viability of toe nail lead assessments in lieu of blood lead assessments. Toe nail clippings are a non-invasive specimen, which don’t require special storage and can be analyzed using a portable x-ray fluorescence technology in the field.

Faculty supervisor: Jenna Forsyth, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Focus country(ies): Regional focus 
Research fellows: Raphael Kim, '27, Bioengineering & Lyanne Pineda, ‘24, Human Biology

Improving Long Term Outcomes Among Trafficking Victims

The Stanford Human Trafficking Data Lab is working in partnership with the Institute for Decent Work and the State Secretariat of Human Rights in the state of Maranhao, Brazil to implement a set of policy recommendations designed to improve outcomes among trafficking victims following rescue. 

The team is implementing a new set of protocols to improve victim services and reintegration across the state in 2023 and will use a quasi-experimental study design to measure the impact on long term employment and re-trafficking risk.

The research fellow will work in coordination with partner organizations and state secretariats to complete work necessary for full implementation, including 1) assisting with victim case management systems, 2) organizing and conducting trainings with local social service providers in high risk areas, and 3) establishing a data pipeline critical for tracking progress and outcomes.

Faculty supervisor: Kimberly Babiarz, Center for Health Policy
Focus country(ies): Brazil  
Cardinal Quarter community partner: Institute of Decent Work, and the State Anti-Trafficking Commission within the Secretariat of Human Rights in the State of Maranhao.
Research fellow: Thay Graciano, Co-term, Political Science 

Keeping Women Working: Strategies to Reinforce Female Retention in the Indian Labor Force

The rate of female labor force participation (FLFP) in India is substantially lower than the global average rate at 22.8% as compared to 47% percent, and concerningly, FLFP in India has continued to decline for several years. While many researchers have focused on the barriers women face to entering the labor force, few have investigated the barriers to women’s retention in the labor force, such as the disparate gendered expectations for men and women workers and the challenges associated with labor migration. India is currently faced with a prominent mismatch between labor supply and demand that may be impacting its labor force participation rate; while job creation is largely happening in Indian cities, the national labor supply is concentrated within the countryside. As a result of this mismatch, women from rural areas who have migrated to urban centers in pursuit of employment constitute a major proportion of India’s formal labor force. However, the particular challenges faced by this subset of women laborers have yet to be sufficiently investigated. 

Accordingly, this projects seeks to address a critical point for future intervention: identifying avenues for preventing women’s attrition from the labor force. The purpose of this study is to understand when and where Indian women drop out of the labor force and the reasons behind their high rates of attrition. To do this, the research team will work with in-depth data shared by agencies offering recruitment, vocational training and job-placement services in addition to surveys and qualitative interviews with migrant women laborers. Ultimately, the insights gained from this intervention will allow the research team to design a series of informational interventions geared toward providing employers with data on female retention as a means of improving employment outcomes for Indian women. This project will be based in Bangalore and will be conducted in partnership with The Udaiti Foundation for women’s empowerment and LabourNet, an Indian skilling and job-placement agency.

Faculty supervisor: Soledad Prillaman, Department of Political Science
Focus country(ies): India
Cardinal Quarter community partner: LabourNet
Research fellow: Sachin Singh, ‘27, Undeclared

LaBeaud Lab Science Communications

The LaBeaud lab is a pediatric infectious diseases lab that does global health work with well-established collaborations both locally and internationally including Kenya, Brazil and Grenada. Our work is focused on the epidemiology of arboviral diseases with environmental sustainability and a community-engaged lens. We want to ensure that our research results and messages reach the appropriate audiences and lead to transformative change. We have many target communities, including the communities we serve in our global health settings. In this science communications project, the student will help co-develop and implement a communications and outreach plan for our ongoing research projects, as well as work with the members of our lab to measure the impact of our communications outreach strategy.

Faculty supervisor: Esra Buyukcangaz, School of Medicine - Pediatrics Department
Focus country(ies): Kenya, Brazil, and Grenada
Cardinal Quarter community partner: HERI-Kenya
Research fellow: Cassidy Dalva, ‘26, Economics 

Political Equality: What Does it Mean to Live in a Community of Political Equals?

Political inequality in capitalist democracies is an under-conceptualized within the social sciences.  It, at the least, requires "equal consideration," itself a complex category. Focusing on participation, representation, and responsiveness ultimately provides a way into entering debates about political equality as equal consideration, as some key aspects are measurable and therefore tangible. This further helps identify more precisely which interventions, i.e. policy reforms and/or institutions, increase or decrease political equality by affecting the participatory, representative, or responsiveness aspects of a democratic system. 

In our perspective, political inequality is a distinctive type of inequality. First, although affected by the factors that routinely go into thinking about social, economic and power inequality, it cannot be simply reduced to those factors. Second, its currency is performative as well as distributive.  Although from first principles many economic models of inequality are built on ideas of autonomous agents that do not relate to each other, politics is inherently an interactive, participatory activity. Thus,  we conceive political equality as relational and processual as well as distributional.

Faculty supervisor: Margaret Levi, Department of Political Science
Focus country(ies): India, Turkey, Hungary, and Argentina
Research fellow: Yiman Deng, ‘25, International Relations, Computer Science

Seeking Accountability in the Indonesian Human Rights Courts

This project includes in-depth research on the Indonesian human rights laws, the institutions charged with implementing them (Attorney General's Office Human Rights Task Force, National Human Rights Commission, and the Supreme Court of Indonesia). This project is a continuation of the work that we have been doing together with our Indonesian NGOI partner, Institute for an Independent Judiciary (LeIP) over the past 5 years, with the King Center enabling a Stranford student to participate through a summer internship every year. Currently, Kyra Jasper, who was our first intern there in 2018 is in Jakarta for the year, completing the research for her Senior Honors Thesis with the support of a Jane Stanford Fellowship. Current interns include Abigail Neely (10 weeks in Summer 2022) and Natalie Longmire-Kulis, who graduated in June 2022. They have just published a review of the current court proceedings with a Melbourne based human rights blog and are co-authors on a report that was just published by LeIP and the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

By June 2023 the High Court and Supreme Court appeals in the current case will have been decided. I will be engaged in the preparation of a book-length report on the trial and appeals process that will provide a comprehensive account of the development of the Human Rights Court system from its inception in 2000 (Law 26/2000) to the most recent case. In addition to the preparation of the report I will be working with LeIP to draft a revision of the official Guidelines to Practice in the Human Rights Courts, published by the Supreme Court of Indonesia. 

Faculty supervisor: David Cohen, Department of Classics
Focus country(ies): Indonesia  
Cardinal Quarter community partner: Institute for an Independent Judiciary
Research fellow: Lindsey McKhann, ’25, International Relations 

The Refugee Entrepreneur’s Venture Formation: Ideation Processes & Dilemmas

With 25.9M refugee cases recorded by the UN in 2018, how to increase refugees’ self-reliance has become a burning issue challenging the UN and host countries. Moreover, most refugee-hosting countries, such as Ethiopia as our empirical setting, are among the developing countries, where the unemployment rate is a critical issue. Thus, there is a concern from the host countries on whether refugees take job opportunities from domestic citizens. We aim to address this issue by analyzing how entrepreneurship education and digital technologies, such as data-driven algorithms, can promote entrepreneurship among the refugee population.

Faculty supervisor: Chuck Eesley, Department of Management Science & Engineering 
Focus country(ies): Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia
Cardinal Quarter community partner: JCC
Research fellow: Natalie Milan, ‘24, Sociology & Faith Zehfuss, ‘24, International Relations 

Three Centuries of International Capital Flows

Foreign capital flows are an important source of funding for emerging markets with less-developed domestic financial markets, but foreign flows often come with risks: through them, countries can "import" credit market fluctuations from the global financial center. While foreign flows have been recognized as a source of disruption in recent financial crises such as the Asian crises of the 1990s and the global financial crisis in 2008, they also have a long historical precedent. A primary goal of this project is to construct a comprehensive database of granular short-term capital flows around the world to answer a variety of questions related to international finance and macroeconomics.

The main focus is to work on constructing two novel historical datasets: one based on the international holdings of the first global bond market in London, and one based on the short-term capital flows of global banks around the world.

Faculty supervisor: Chenzi Xu, Graduate School of Business - Finance
Research fellow: Garry Piepenbrock, ‘27, Economics, Political Science

World Education Reforms: A Global Challenge to Improve Learning for All

Education sits at the core of the global development agenda. Schooling is often believed to be a tool for enhancing individuals’ lives and attaining greater economic and social goals. However, school systems have been facing persistent challenges of inequality, as well as new crises arising from a global pandemic, natural disasters, and conflict/wars among countries. To tackle these problems in education, governments engage in an array of reforms. While existing studies have assessed the effectiveness of education reforms in particular country contexts and time periods, our research project takes a comparative and historical approach to studying what types of reforms occur, where, and why, and what effects they have on education and society. To answer these research questions, the World Education Reform Database (WERD) team has built a database of over 10,000 education reforms from 189 countries and territories, and from years between 1970 and 2020. Reforms in WERD capture publicly stated goals about how governments should enact changes in education systems around the world, thus focusing on a discursive dimension that sheds light on beliefs about the role of education in a society.

Faculty supervisor: Patricia Bromley, Graduate School of Education - Social Sciences, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies in Education (SHIPS)
Research fellow: Mayumi Kuze, ‘23, Economics