The Intersections of STEM and Social Justice Series: Dr. Renata Konrad

Dr. Renata Konrad

Apr 6, 2021
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Remote

Topic: "Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts and the Potential of Engineering and Analytical Techniques"

Human trafficking is a complex issue affecting society and economy. Forced labour and sexual exploitation represent a multi-billion dollar global industry, victimizing tens of millions of adults and children of all gender identities worldwide. It transcends national borders, is prevalent in both impoverished and wealthy countries, and undermines fundamental human rights and a broader sense of global order.

Do engineers have a role to play in countering human trafficking activity? I believe they do. To date human trafficking research has primarily focused on qualitative studies, statistical estimations of prevalence, and insights generated from economic models. However, a variety of engineering and analytical techniques have the potential to help address the unique challenges facing anti-human trafficking efforts including: the covertness of traffickers, the hidden nature of victim-survivors, fragmented data, and limited resources. This presentation will discuss ongoing transdisciplinary collaborations in this sphere and draw from several examples of ongoing projects. This presentation is designed to be accessible for all audiences.

Speaker Bio

Renata Konrad is an Associate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Konrad’s research focuses on the application of operations research methodologies to social justice issues and healthcare to improve the quality, timeliness, and efficiency of operations. This research includes using optimization and simulation to inform human trafficking awareness campaigns, to locate housing, to understand the relationship between illegal fishing and exploited labor, and to improve access to primary care. Her research is funded by the National Science Foundation and she is a Fulbright Scholar grantee (2020/21 Ukraine). She served on the U.S. Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Science and Technology, Human Trafficking Advisory Committee and the United Nations University Delta 8.7 Working Group. Dr. Konrad earned a PhD in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.


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