Research Lab Team

Research Lab Director
Dr. Laura A. Dean (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Millikin University. With over a decade of experience researching human trafficking, Dr. Dean is an internationally recognized expert on human trafficking giving talks around the world on this topic and consulting with BBC News and Dutch Radio. She began researching this issue as a Fulbright research fellow to Latvia where she conducted research and acquired practical knowledge on human trafficking at the Resource Centre for Women Marta, the leading women’s non-governmental organization and rehabilitation center for trafficking victims. In 2012-2013 she spent 15 months conducting fieldwork in Ukraine, Latvia, and Russia on human trafficking policy approaches in Eurasia. Dr. Dean was appointed to the Governor’s Office for Children and Families’ Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Task Force in Georgia from 2015-2017. Currently she serves as the co-chair of the research subcommittee on the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force and as a member of the advocacy and policy workgroup on the Illinois Task Force on Human Trafficking. She speaks Latvian, Russian, and is constantly trying to improve her Ukrainian.

Research Lab Assistants

Rhys Deiter Fall 2022-Spring 2023

Rhys Deiter (he/him) is a junior political science student at Millikin University. He is from New Palestine, a small rural town in central Indiana. After graduation he hopes to attend law school and pursue a career as a civil rights lawyer. Rhys feels that human trafficking is an issue that kind of flies under the radar and hopes through a collaborative effort within the Millikin Human Trafficking Lab they can draw more attention to the issue.  Trafficking Lab they can draw more attention to the issue. Rhys is the fifth student to work in the Millikin Human Trafficking Research Lab.
Gabby Watson Spring 2021-Spring 2023

Gabby Watson (they/she) is a third-year political science student at Millikin University. They are from Murphysboro, a small southern town in Southern Illinois. After graduation, they hope to pursue a job in the field of politics. They look forward to furthering their knowledge on human trafficking and bringing awareness to this issue. They anticipate that through hard work, they will be able to help find new ways to combat human trafficking in central Illinois. Gabby is the fifth student to work in the Millikin Human Trafficking Research Lab.
Kocha Changelia Fall 2022

Kocha Changelia (he/him) is a junior UGRAD exchange student in Political Science at Millikin University while pursuing his degree in International Relations at the International Black Sea University in Tbilisi, Georgia. Kocha is interested in peace and conflict studies, human rights, and political science. He has published on issues related to hybrid warfare, cybersecurity, and human rights in the EU and participated in exchange programs at Boston University and W├╝rzburg University. He is also an activist and trainer who has coordinated and implemented projects in collaboration with international organizations UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, and USAID. Kocha was awarded the highest governmental diploma for his contribution to peace-building activities in the South Caucasus by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia. 

Aimable Ngabo Summer 2021-Spring 2022


Aimable Ngabo (he/him) graduated with a bachelor's of arts in political science from Millikin University 2022. He is from Kigali, Rwanda a country located in East Africa. After the completion of his studies, he looks plans to work at a think tank or other humanitarian organization to advocate for human rights all over the world. He is honored to serve as the Human Trafficking Lab Research Assistant because this project will educate him more about issues related to human trafficking in Illinois. 


Joselynn Ali Fall 2020-Spring 2021

Joselynn Ali (she/her), a South Holland Illinois native, is a graduated with a bachelor's of arts in political science and a Philosophy Pre-Law minor from Millikin University 2021. Joselynn plans to pursue a law degree after graduating from Millikin University. She looks forward to learning more about human trafficking as well as sharing her findings with her peers. Bringing awareness is the objective and Joselynn’s dedication will further the goal of spreading awareness to the cause. She was the fourth student to assist in Millikin’s Human Trafficking Research Lab. 


Troy Burrows Fall 2019
Troy Burrows (he/him) was a junior political science major at Millikin University. He is from Bolingbrook Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and plays basketball at Millikin. He said he looks "forward to assisting in the efforts to bring awareness to human trafficking in the Central Illinois Area, as well as engaging in authentic dialogue about the problems that are at hand, and also finding solutions to combat trafficking." Troy was the third student to work in the Millikin Human Trafficking Research Lab and his research focuses on how human trafficking victims and perpetrators are portrayed in the media in Illinois.

Julisa Sierra Spring 2018- Spring 2019
Julisa Sierra (she/her) graduated with a bachelor's of arts in political science from Millikin University 2019. She is a bilingual and first generation college student from Chicago, Illinois. In 2107-2018 she was awarded the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Millikin to study the collaborative efforts of human trafficking task forces in the United States of America. Julisa was the first student to work in the Millikin Human Trafficking Research Lab and her work allows for future undergrads at Millikin to participate in human trafficking research.

Jasmin Coronel Spring 2019
Jasmin Coronel graduated with a bachelor's of arts in political science and Spanish from Millikin University 2021. She is from Chicago, Illinois and hopes to pursue a degree in immigration law after graduation. Jasmin was the second student to work in the Millikin Human Trafficking Research Lab and she researched human trafficking themes on different migration blogs.

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