Rochelle L Dalla portrait picture

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Human Trafficking & Vulnerable Populations Research Lab

Rochelle Dalla Professor and Graduate Chair

Ph.D., University of Arizona: Human Development & Family Studies
M.S., University of Arizona: Human Development & Family Studies
M.S., University of Nebraska-Omaha: Community Counseling
B.A., University of Colorado- Boulder. Double Major: Psychology and Cultural Anthropology

Dr. Dalla’s research focuses on familial dynamics, intergenerational family processes, and support systems of women trafficked into the commercial sex industry (CSI). Her work is centered in both the United States and India. In an attempt to identify more effective methods for recruiting survivors, Dr. Dalla is exploring the use of Community Health Workers (CHWs) as data collectors— which may be an especially useful strategy in rural states like Nebraska. In India, Dr. Dalla’s research has focused on both urban (brothel-based) and rural (source community) sex trafficking survivors.

Learn more about
Human Trafficking & Vulnerable Populations Research Lab
Project LIVE
Teens and Technology (T&T)
Disrupting Illicit Supply Networks in a Global Human Trafficking Hot Spot

Dr. Dalla currently supervises student research in the following program areas:

News articles featuring Dr. Dalla:


Mar·gin·al·ize: (1) To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing; (2) to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power; (3) to relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant (Merriam-Webster, 2013).

My research addresses marginalized female populations (prostituted and women trafficked into the commercial sex trade; reservation-residing Navajo adolescent mothers; rural immigrant and undocumented Latinas) who have received little academic attention, who are confined to the fringes of society, who experience little social, personal, or political power, and whose voices often remain unheard. My research is largely aimed at providing them voice as well as visibility.

Woman with her child

My investigative lens is colored by bio-ecological systems theory (EST) (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989) which asserts that human development is a reciprocal and life-long process of interaction between person and environment (including hierarchically organized social systems). According to EST, present circumstances cannot be fully understood without careful observation of the entire context within which an individual is embedded, including historical events and situations, social relationships, and environmental factors (e.g., physical environment, culture, sub-culture). In my work, EST is complemented with principles of feminist family theory (FFT) (Ingoldsby et al., 2004) and family systems (Bowen, 1974, 1988) theory, including the following principles: (1) women’s experiences are central to understanding intergenerational patterns and outcomes, (2) gender is socially constructed, (3) social and historical contexts are critically important, (4) privilege exists on many levels (i.e., gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and economic status) and has significant implications for developmental outcomes and well-being, and (5) social change is necessary to empower the disenfranchised.

Young Indian Woman


I am fortunate to have the opportunity to advise graduate (at both the master’s and doctoral levels) as well as undergraduate students. Some of these advisees are highlighted below.

Heather Kennedy
I have known Heather for about 18 years! She was an undergraduate student in one of the first classes I ever taught. She eventually began working with me as an undergraduate Research Assistant (RA) and then became a master’s student in one of our many CYAF programs. After completing her M.S. and working in the field as a therapist for several years, she returned to school to complete her Ph.D. As part of her graduate training, Heather worked as an RA and a TA (Teaching Assistant), and eventually taught several classes on her own- as the primary instructor. She graduated in December, 2014 and has accepted an Assistant Professor position at the University of Northern Iowa where she will continue conducting research, teaching, and advising her own students!
Dr. Kennedy's Profile

Heather Kennedy

Lee Kreimer
Lee is a senior Global Studies and Spanish major at UNL and she has been working as an undergraduate research assistant with me for the last two years. In this capacity, Lee has helped transcribe and analyze data collected from women trafficked into Mumbai’s red-light districts. In the process, she has learned a tremendous amount about the academic research process as well as qualitative research methods and analysis. Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree, Lee hopes to pursue a career in law, non-profit work, or social science research in an academic setting (which one has yet to be determined!). In her free time, Lee enjoys riding her horse, Molly, bicycling, sewing her own clothes, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Lee Kreimer's Profile

Lee Kreimer

At UN—L we have a special program called UCARE—Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience. The program provides a stipend which allows undergraduate students to work one–on–one with faculty members—participating in various research and creative learning experiences. UCARE is particularly useful in preparing students for graduate school because of the hands–on research experiences they receive. I have worked with many UCARE students over the years, and with Lee since 2013.

International Activities

CYAF (Child, Youth and Family Studies) is committed to creating an environment that prepares students to be successful, culturally competent, global citizens. International engagement—through a variety of learning opportunities—are encouraged and supported within the department.

As a member of the CYAF faculty, I have benefited tremendously from our departmental GLOCAL mission (Global Scope / Local Impact) evident through my extensive travel opportunities focusing on teaching, disseminating research, collecting data, and expanding and solidifying international relationships.


Beijing, Guanzhou, and Shanghai, China (fall, 2006). In the fall of 2006 I had the opportunity to spend 18 days in China. The central purpose was to participate in a Domestic Violence conference with training on service delivery, although much additional sight-seeing and travel were embedded in the trip—including hiking the Great Wall of China and visiting the Summer Palace. While there, I was interviewed by a Chinese journalist in Shanghai about my research with prostituted women. The interviewed appeared in a Shanghai-based periodical--Xinmin Weekly.

New Castle, Australia (spring, 2008). In the spring of 2008 I traveled to New Castle, Australia with close colleagues (see Drs. Susan Churchill and Julia Torquati) to participate in the annual International Family Strengths conference. While there- I was invited to conduct a live radio broadcast about my research with prostituted women—the show aired on ABC [Australia Broadcast Corporation, a radio/television news program equivalent to National Public Radio (NPR)].

Bangkok, Thailand (Spring, 2010). As my research interests into the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation increased, I traveled to Bangkok—a megatron for sexual trafficking—to learn more about trafficking processes, source and destination communities, as well as intervention and outreach. I traveled with a group from South Dakota. We volunteered at Nightlight- an agency in Bangkok that helps trafficked women develop employable skills. As part of this trip, we participated in an annual “Valentine Outreach” in the many red-light areas of Bangkok.

India. I’ve co-led two study abroad trips to India-- In addition to service outreach activities with survivors of trafficking Mumbai and Delhi, we also visited the Taj Mahal, rode elephants to the Amber Fort in Jaipur, hiked the World Heritage Allora and Elantra rock caves, and searched for Tigers in the Ranthambore National Tiger reserve (we found some!!)


I am 5th generation native of Durango, Colorado—located in the far, southwest corner of the state and nestled between high mountains and rock-cut cliffs. For much of my childhood, I was surrounded by multiple generations—grandparents and great-grandparents—on both my maternal and paternal sides. It was wonderful! My mother, father, stepfather and sister still live there and we visit regularly. Durango is home to about 25,000. It is internationally regarded as one of the best places for mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, and fly fishing in the summer months, and skiing at the famous Purgatory Ski Resort during the winter. Durango is also home to one of the only coal-run narrow guage railroads still in existence! In short- tourism is the biggest industry there. I grew up working part-time jobs in various hotels (i.e., in housekeeping), restaurants (i.e., as a server) and other service industries (i.e., sales, etc…). I learned quickly that education was key to career advancement!


I left Durango after high-school graduation to attend the University of Colorado-Boulder; I graduated in May of 1991 with a double major in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology. Go Buffs!

University of Colorado logo

I began my doctoral work in August of 1991 at the University of Arizona, majoring in Human Department and Family Studies. My master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation focused on adolescent parenting among Navajo, Native American teenage mothers. Graduate school was liberating and exhilarating—and paved the way for my faculty work at the University of Nebraska!

Arizona University logo

I live in Omaha – which I have called home for over 20 years now!! I am married to Damian, an engineer, and we have an amazing (and spicy!) son named Logan. Logan is always on the move and stays active with baseball, soccer, skiing, ice skating/hockey, gymnastics, swimming, and guitar!

Professional Highlights

Honors and Recognition
2018, Distinguished Research and Creative Career Award, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln2017, Distinguished Teaching Award, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln2015, Best Presentation Award in Behavioral Sciences, Center for Scholastic Inquiry International Academic Research Conference, Charleston, SC2012, Certificate of Recognition for Contribution to Students, UNL Teaching Council and the UNL Parents Association2007, Distinguished Publication Award, Association for Women in Psychology2007, Swanson Award for Teaching Excellence, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln2004, Charman Outstanding Professor Award, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2004, Award for Young Achievers, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona2003, Award for Young Achievers: School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Arizona2003, Distinguished Alumni Award: School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Arizona2001, College of Human Resources and Family Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award
2017, Faculty co-Leader. Global Issues in Human Trafficking2014, Faculty co-Leader. Study abroad in India: Global Issues in Human Trafficking2011, Conference Participant. Violence Against Women: Complex Realities and New Issues in a Changing World conference. Sponsored by The Interdisciplinary Research Center on Family Violence and Violence Against Women (CRI-VIFF). Montréal, Quebec, Canada2010, Bangkok, Thailand. Volunteer trip for outreach with trafficking survivors2008, Conference Participant. Fifth Australian Family & Community Strengths Conference, sponsored by the Family Action Centre. University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia2006, Conference Participant. Family Violence International Seminar, hosted by the Institute of Sociology and the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, Shanghai, China2004, Conference Participant. 1st annual Working with Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S.A. Conference. Sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico2002, Invited Workshop Participant. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and NCFR, San Juan, Puerto Rico
American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS)National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)