Showing posts from 2019

2019 Martin Mangan Lecture

I was honored to give the 2019 Martin Mangan Lecture on Tuesday, December 3 at 6:30 pm at the Decatur Public Library. I spoke about my advocacy work, research, and how I use that to teach my students at Millikin about social justice issues. The talk was titled "Human Trafficking Advocacy Through Education and Social Justice" and organized by Bob Sampson my colleague at Millikin. Reverend Martin B. Mangan (1929-2001), a native of Springfield, Illinois, was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on May 1, 1957. He graduated from Springfield's Cathedral Boys High School in 1947 and attended in turn St. Louis University, the Diocesan Latin School near Springfield, and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, where he earned a master's degree. Starting in the 1960s, Fr. Mangan, known as "Mitz" to his friends, took a special interest in civil rights and social justice issues. Most of the papers in this collection deal with his activism, primarily in supp

Additional Resources

Additional Resources If you are looking for additional ways to further educate your employees on the topic of Human Trafficking in supply chains, check out the following resources below made by students in the PO 323 Human Trafficking course at Millikin University.  View this  video  for a short presentation that will provide information on Human Trafficking in supply chains and why your business should care.  Download this PDF  for an educational activity that will help all employees better understand the path of a Human Trafficking victim.  Human Trafficking in Supply Chains Policy Briefs End Human Trafficking in Your Company's Supply Chain Informational Brochure For more information about human trafficking in supply chains: What supply chain transparency really means  from the Harvard Business Review  Five ways to work out if a company is serious about tackling modern slavery  from the Conversation Responsible Sourcing Tool   from the State Department’s Offic

Walk For Freedom in Springfield

For the second year in a row the Human Trafficking Research Lab was invited to participate at our local A21 Walk for Freedom in Springfield Illinois. This event is a chance for individuals to come together as a community to raise awareness for human trafficking both globally and locally and consisted of a walk  around downtown Springfield beginning at the old state capitol. Participants can come dressed in all black attire and different organizations were there collecting self-care items to help assist local survivors! This year the Human Trafficking Research Lab was able to host a table giving away fair trade chocolate, buttons, and research materials. One of my students stopped by and even my mom came to help spread the awareness and educate the public on our human trafficking research!

Visiting Marta Centre in Riga, Latvia

This summer I took undergraduate students from Millikin on a three week immersion to the Baltic States including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland by myself with six students from different majors. The course was POLS 321 Politics of Borderlands and it focused on migration and issues along the borderlands of the European Union. We traveled over 1,330 miles on 8 buses, 3 trains, and 2 ferry rides through four countries. We had a jam-packed schedule with 17 days of lectures, museum visits, and cultural excursions demonstrated in the course packet in my supplementary teaching materials.  I geared the class to build on the contacts I have made over 20 years of visits to this region as a student myself and through my fieldwork research. I wanted students to learn from local experts about the politics and history of this region firsthand. We visited all three parliaments of the Baltics States and received tours on the political systems and parties in all three countries.  We also visi

Association for the Study of Nationalities Conference in New York

I was fortunate to present a different chapter of my book manuscript Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia at the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) in New York. This conference was special because I presented my research on a panel The Eurasian Migration System panel with my writing group colleagues. It was also my first ASN conference and I enjoyed the social science panels coupled with the film and book panels so I will definitely be back! 

Celebration of Scholarship Poster Symposium at Millikin

Human Trafficking Research Lab Assistant Julisa presented our research at the 2020 Celebration of Scholarship Poster Symposium at Millikin. Her speech and poster were so impressive that she was awarded third prize in the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Judith & G. Richard Locke Poster Awards. This award is especially significant given the nascent research at our lab and the fact that she was the only social science award winner competing against mostly hard science students. Way to go Julisa!

REECAS Northwest Conference in Seattle

While my students were presenting their own research, I was presenting a chapter of my book manuscript Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia at REECAS Northwest, the annual ASEEES Northwest Regional Conference for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. This was the first academic conference that I presented my research at back in 2005 and it was great to be back at my alma mater celebrating 25 years of Baltic Studies and disusing my forthcoming book on human trafficking! 

Winning Third Place at Millikin's 2019 Celebration of Scholarship Poster Symposium

The unbelievable happened! I won third place at the Poster Symposium, which was a first for the Political Science department at Millikin! Despite being a little unprepared due to having to work and also having to present my senior thesis project that same morning I was able to impress the judges so much that they awarded us a third place ribbon and cash award prize! I had an amazing time explaining to everyone that approached me what our findings were and the importance of the research matter. Most of the people I explained our research to were unaware of the countywide efforts the United States government has been funding since the early 2000s and I was proud to be able to provide them with that information. I felt as if I was extremely prepared despite not having any notecards to rely on because of the numerous presentations given before the poster symposium. My conversation with the judges was engaging and I could tell they were really interested in the research topic bec

Lawrence, Kansas Trip!

Our trip to Lawrence, Kansas for the Beyond Discourse: Critical and Empirical Approaches to Human Trafficking   was one of the many amazing experiences had during my time working with the Human Trafficking Research Lab. I had never been to Kansas so I was blown away with the scenery and the culture of the campus and Lawrence. During the conference days, I was able to learn so much about the anti-trafficking discourse and different research approaches. I was also able to present the research in front of many well-known and often cited researchers and we were even able to present research in front of an author we had cited within our literature review portion of our paper. I was also able to enjoy the art museum that was in display specifically for the theme of the conference, which I have included a couple of the art pieces I had enjoyed! The trip was also full of restaurant trips that required me to step out of my comfort zone, but I was pleasantly surprised. We also did a bit of shop

Beyond Discourse: Critical and Empirical Approaches to Human Trafficking

In April the entire Human Trafficking Research Lab traveled to Lawrence Kansas to present our research paper entitled “Human Trafficking Task Force in the US Overlapping Jurisdiction and Shifting Typologies” at Beyond Discourse: Critical and Empirical Approaches to Human Trafficking.   The research focused on the development and collaborations of human trafficking task forces, anti-trafficking institution established to combat human trafficking around the US. We formulated a unique database mapping over 200 human trafficking task forces, coalitions, working groups and/or commissions throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico at different levels of governance from state, to region, county, and city. We created a typology of human trafficking task forces to show task force variation, the overlapping distribution of government grants, and the impetus for the task forces. We determined that there were seven different types of human trafficking task forces in the US from the grassroots

Set Free Forum

Saturday, March 23rd the human trafficking research lab attended the Set Free Forum at a church I had never heard of before by the Decatur Airport. I used GPS to find the church but still missed some important turns that made Jasmine and I arrive later than expected. Sadly, I was also on call for the Growing Strong Sexual Assault Center 24-hour hotline so I had to make sure I had cellular reception at all times. This meant that I was not able to attend most of the important speakers and instead stayed in the lobby at the research lab table answering the few questions asked. I was underwhelmed by the number of attendees but really enjoyed the event. I enjoy being able to network with other community members who are aware of the importance of combatting human trafficking not only in the Decatur community but worldwide. I also was able to learn more about local religious organizations. I especially appreciated the petition Dr. Dean made up to fight against the construction of an ICE deten

Reviewing the Literature

As I have begun the process of completing an annotated bibliography and have compiled the pre-existing literature, it is evident that work on this detail on the lives of migrants is still developing. The literature I have come across pertains to countries in the eastern hemisphere, detailing their migration into Europe. Although, comparing this literature may prove to be beneficial by allowing us to discern the ways in which the migration process of Mexicans relates or differs. Additionally, if the research on how migrants utilize social networks is sparse, then our work could be used to expand the literature.             A particularly interesting article authored by Rianne Dekker and Godfried Engbersen entitled “How Social Media Transform Migrant Networks and Facilitate Migration” offers insight to the significance of social media within the migration process. Dekker and Engbersen elaborate on how migrants utilize social media through the establishment of migrant

Sheets Experience

One of the many skills I have been able to gain and strengthen through my position on the Millkin Research Lab is my spreadsheet creation and maintenance on programs such as Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel. I have grown fond of creating spreadsheets and am using the skills at my current job at a sexual assault center to make sheets of client info to make keeping up with past clients easier. At work, I have an actual computer with an efficiently sized monitor when working on those sheets. Sadly, my outdated laptop makes the task force spreadsheet upkeep much more time consuming and difficult because I am only able to see one collum at a time which makes the aggregate analysis of data a dragged out process. This week I worked on identifying how task forces were established whether that be through the state legislature, as ordinances, or grants. One of the most surprising thing I noticed during that task was that a good amount of task forces have been formed through a club named the Zon

January 28th - February 1st, 2019

On January 31st, I met with Dr. Laura Dean, for whom I will be an assistant of research, to discuss the course of action the human trafficking research lab would take this semester. This meeting established the topic of study this research lab would pursue and what steps would be taken to accomplish it. However, before settling on a topic, Dr. Dean presented me with an array of potential research topics that we could expand upon throughout the semester. There were four topics: tracking convictions of human trafficking in Illinois, tracking news stories of human trafficking in Illinois, looking for other imprisoned victims, and examining migrant profiles. I utilized my free time over the weekend to research each of these potential topics to give me an idea for what sort of literature existed and what I would envision myself devoting time to. Given my proficiency in Spanish and my interest, I decided on examining migrant profiles would be the best topic for me to direct my efforts t

Working On The Lit Dump

I have been working on reading Heterogeneous Perspectives in Coalitions and Community-Based Responses to Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Implications for Practice written by Lara B. Gerassi and Andrea Nichols published on the Journal of Social Science Research. This article has given me some background on how individuals within task forces can be driven to fulfill the agency's goals and mission. One thing I enjoyed about this article was the focus on demographics from task force membership including degree type, race, experience with human trafficking, age, and gender because all these factors play a part in decision making. This article is important because it allows for more insight into the makeup of task force membership, unlike our research which doesn't focus so much on the personal opinions or political beliefs of members within the task forces we had analyzed through our research. I have been using Raul Pacheco-Vega's Excel Conceptual Synthesis

Presenting Research At The Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force

As we arrived in Springfield for the task force meeting I realized I left my driver's license in my car by campus and was unsure if I would be able to get into the federal building. A few minutes after pressuring the security to accept a photo of my ID on my phone they unenthusiastically let me in. As we sat down we meet representatives from many different anti-human trafficking organizations and began introducing themselves and the work they do for victims. I enjoyed learning more about other organizations within our state that are proactive in ensuring victims have the resources to regain control of their lives. Although the presentation was only for a few minutes and informal I did succumb to the angst because of all the older and more experienced professionals in the room. I, however, enjoyed the practice for future presentations to audiences of experienced researchers that will be able to question the research in ways that the task force could not. After the presentation took

Research Lab Buttons

The Human Trafficking Research Lab has buttons for our students to wear and display during our events and research presentations! These are some coveted buttons and were almost all gone after our first event last week. 

Second Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Month Panel Discussion

The Human Trafficking Research Lab together with Set Free Macon County hosted our second annual panel discussion for Human Trafficking Awareness Month at Millikin University. This year we discussed the intersections of human trafficking and healthcare because research has found that 88% of trafficking victims have used health care in one way or another during their trafficking situation. We believe that this demonstrates that health care professionals are on the front lines of identifying potential victims at different health care facilities. We had four excellent panelists: Sara Sefried, Director of Human Trafficking Services at the Center for Prevention of Abuse Junette Kennedy, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and Human Trafficking Coordinator at HSHS St. Mary's Hospital Kimberly Palermo, Health Policy Specialist at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Sue Eversole, Advanced Practice Nurse at Decatur Memorial Hospital Shelbyville Medical Center. A n

City of Decatur Proclamation for Human Trafficking Awareness Month

As part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month the Human Trafficking Research Lab was invited to the city council meeting where our research lab assistant Julisa Sierra read the proclamation for the city of Decatur. It was a great opportunity to raise awareness to human trafficking in our community! The declaration signed by the Mayor of Decatur


Jasmin and Julisa our HTRL Research Assistants for Spring 2019 Welcome to our Human Trafficking Research Lab Blog! Here we will be posting our research progress on different research projects throughout the semester. Stay tuned for our interesting research updates!