The Modern Slavery Research Project is committed to the production of thoughtful, geographically-informed, data-driven, community-based collaborative research that meets the needs of survivors and community stakeholders in addressing human trafficking in New Orleans, the US, aND internationally.

Cutting-Edge, Collaborative Research

MSRP understands scholarship as an ethical project. We engage in a hands-on approach to research that responds to the community, involves stakeholders in the process, and provides accessible, data-driven research to all those engaged in the effort to prevent modern slavery and aid survivors of trafficking. MSRP is dedicated to producing relevant and timely scholarship that has tangible impacts on local, national, and international responses to trafficking.

Organizations and agencies interested in partnering with the MSRP are invited to submit research, evaluation, or training requests to the team.


The Modern Slavery Research Project is comprised of a team of researchers and scholars dedicated to realizing the end of human trafficking.

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Dr. Laura murphy, Director, Department of English

Laura T. Murphy is Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University New Orleans, where she and a team of researchers work to provide data-informed, community-based, survivor-centered research that improves community response to modern slavery in the U.S. and internationally.  Through her work with the Modern Slavery Research Project, she has interviewed 600 homeless youth in the United States and Canada and has authored two major studies that provide a 4-pronged blueprint for community-based actions that will reduce the risk of trafficking in this population. She has performed research on modern slavery and consulted for anti-trafficking organizations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Nigeria, Ghana, and India.  

Her book, Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives (Columbia University Press, 2014), explores human trafficking through the first-person testimony of nearly forty people who have been enslaved in the last twenty years. Her first book, Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature (Ohio University Press 2012, winner of the African Literature Association First Book Prize), examines the coded ways West African writers have memorialized the trauma of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. She is currently completing a new book titled The New Slave Narrative, which investigates the way people talk about the experience of slavery in the 21st century and analyzes the political mobilization of the term “slavery” and the cooptation of the voices of survivors in today’s anti-slavery movement.

Professor Murphy is a Subject Matter Expert on human trafficking for  the United States Family Youth Services Bureau within the Department of Health and Human Services as well as for the Office of Victims of Crime within the Department of Justice.  She is a sought-after trainer and public speaker who has educated and motivated thousands of community activists, students, law enforcement officers, service providers, and medical professionals to respond compassionately and effectively to the needs of survivors of trafficking.  Her interactive workshops train community members in the trauma-informed best practices that address the root causes of modern slavery and human trafficking, grounded in the knowledge she has gained from serving as an evaluator for several human trafficking task forces and through the interview she has conducted with hundreds of survivors. As a consultant, she provides stakeholders assistance with community-based research, curriculum design, evaluation, and awareness projects in the field of modern slavery, human trafficking, and other social justice issues.

Dr. Christian Bolden, Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Christian Bolden earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Central Florida and Masters in Applied Sociology from Texas State University-San Marcos. His current research interests include reconciling interpretations of gang behaviors and processes with viewpoints of actual gang members, examining the social network dynamics of deviant populations, investigating the future of criminal innovation, navigating racial/ethnic dynamics in criminology, and human trafficking. Dr. Bolden was recently selected as the “Futurist in Residence” for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit Futures Working Group. His recent work can be found in Criminal Justice Review, Deviant Behavior, and the Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology.


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Dr. Rae Taylor, Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Rae Taylor joined the Loyola University New Orleans faculty in the fall of 2009 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida. Her doctoral dissertation involved examining pregnancy as a risk factor for lethal and non-lethal intimate partner violence. During her tenure as a doctoral student, she was the recipient of several teaching and research awards, including the prestigious University Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching in 2008.

Dr. Taylor’s research and teaching interests include intimate partner violence and other violent crimes, societal and organizational responses to violent crime, and social inequalities. She has published research articles in Violence Against Women and Homicide Studies. Dr. Taylor has worked as a data analyst and policy consultant for CourtWatch Florida, a non-profit court monitoring and advocacy organization, and has been involved with several community based research projects pertaining to homelessness and other areas.

Dr. Taylor has worked in the criminal justice system as a victim advocate, and continues her training in victim services and crisis response. In addition to her academic degrees, Dr. Taylor holds a graduate level certification in domestic violence and has been inducted into the Alpha Kappa Delta National Honor Society and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society of Criminology, the Homicide Research Working Group, and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, where she regularly presents her research. 



Interested in covering MSRP?

Our media kit is available to view and download here


  • Loyola’s Modern Slavery Research Project works to emancipate victims of human trafficking | WGNO

  • Angela Hill on Human Trafficking | WWL

  • Grant to help preserve SUNO’s African art, and other news of higher education | The Advocate

  • Human trafficking expert to speak at Loyola |

  • Human trafficking expert to present latest book 'Blood and Earth' Friday (Jan. 22) at Loyola |

  • Kevin Bales discussing modern-day slavery and human trafficking awareness month | WWL

  • Slavery in your pocket: Consumer goods fuel forced labor and ecocide, scholar says |

  • Dr. Laura T. Murphy, 2015 New Orleans Top Female Achiever | New Orleans Magazine

  • Homeless Teens Trapped by Human Traffickers in New Orleans |

  • Human trafficking victims among those seeking help at Covenant House, Loyola report says |

  • President of Covenant House: "Funding Anti-Trafficking Efforts Must Be A Priority" | Huffington Post  

  • Homeless Teens at Greater Risk of Sex Trafficking | CNBC

  • Despite Outrage, Sex Trafficking Arrests Rare in Metro Area | WWLTV

  • Loyola study shows strides in human trafficking, but problem persists | WVUE-NO Fox 8 News

  • The Jim Engster Show: Human Trafficking | WRKF 89.3

  • Professor produces first official report of human trafficking problem in New Orleans | Loyola Press Release

  • Louisiana's Human Trafficking Reports Increased in 2013, Study Says |

  • Laura Murphy: Winnovating the Fight Against Human Trafficking |

  • Loyola hosts local human trafficking author and journalist | Loyola at a Glance 

  • The Pioneers Behind Eliminating Sex Trafficking Nationally and in NoLa |

  • Modern Slavery Research Project Calls Loyola Home | LOYNO Magazine 

  • A Professor of English Directly Involves Students in Her Research that Raises Awareness about Modern-Day Slavery | Provost Report Loyola New Orleans

  • Loyola Professor Studies Modern-Day Slavery In New Orleans | WWNO

  • Professor, students embark on research project to aid anti-human trafficking efforts in New Orleans | Loyola Press Release

  • Upcoming conference addresses human trafficking at the Super Bowl | Loyola Press Release

  • Loyola hosts conference to prevent human trafficking at the New Orleans Super Bowl | Loyola at a Glance


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