UCF’s Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

UCF’s Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

The Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, also known for “HTMS” at the University of Central Florida, was established in 2018. The Center was previously supported by UCF Global Perspectives and International Initiatives (GPII). As of the Fall 2023 semester, the Center has been transitioned to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management and is led by the Executive Director, Dr. Jessica Wickey Byrd. Leading the research arm of the HTMS Center is Dr. Tingting Zhang.


At the Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, we are committed to deepening the understanding of the escalating global challenge of human trafficking and modern slavery. Our approach encompasses comprehensive community engagement, rigorous research, focused education, specialized training, as well as offering student fellowships and survivor scholarships. Our goal is not just to study this complex issue but to actively seek and implement solutions.


We aspire to be the foremost platform for collating and distributing knowledge, research, and fostering community partnerships to effectively counteract human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale. Our vision extends beyond academic research; it seeks to influence policy, inspire action, and ignite change.

Key Goals of the Center

  • Education: To cultivate a well-informed community through educational programs, workshops, and curricula focused on understanding and addressing human trafficking and modern slavery.
  • Research: To conduct groundbreaking research that sheds light on the complexities of human trafficking and modern slavery, thereby contributing to global knowledge and solutions.
  • Community Engagement: To actively engage with local, national, and international communities, fostering partnerships that drive awareness, prevention, and intervention strategies.

We are focused on developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking. Our multi-disciplinary approach, rooted in the diverse and socially conscious environment of the University of Central Florida, echoes the commitment to social justice and human rights.

Our Guiding Principles

  • Tackling all forms of human trafficking with a holistic approach.
  • Prioritizing the dignity and rights of every individual.
  • Collaborating with survivors as key partners.
  • Working together with various sectors for a unified response.
  • Focusing on tangible outcomes and real-world impact.
  • Utilizing research and data to guide our actions.

About Us

In 2019 the Rosen Professional Internships Team hosted a Human Trafficking workshop at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, facilitated by United Abolitionists, Inc. 200 students attended. After the workshop ended, 30 students stated that they had witnessed human trafficking in their workplace. Following this the Rosen College established human trafficking training to educate the future leaders within the hospitality and tourism industry.

Since then, we have continued to expand our impact and the fight against human trafficking through establishing strong partnerships with organizations such as United Abolitionists, Inc. and It’s a Penalty as well as hosting multiple workshops such as our student lead Human Trafficking Leadership Workshop hosted in October 2023.

HTMS Efforts within the Rosen College:

  • Submitted $8 million worth of grants
  • Educated over 2,700 students to be able to identify and report Human Trafficking in their workplaces
  • Published 2 book chapters, 3 academic journal articles, and facilitated 25 presentations

Knights of the RELM, a new student organization that supports The Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery work together to counter human trafficking through Research, Education, and Community Engagement to leave a lasting impact.


  • 01/24 – Knights of the RELM’s Red Sand Event
  • 01/26 – Polaris Star Awards Gala
  • 02/13 – Super LVIII
  • 06/17 – Event Management Journal Conference

Leadership Team

Person Name

Dr. Jessica Wickey

Executive Director

Person Name

Dr. TingTing Zang

Director of Research

Person Name

Tricia Connelly

Director of Community Engagement

Person Name

Annastazia Allgire

Executive Assistant


In our relentless pursuit to combat human trafficking, the Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery (HTMS) at the University of Central Florida delves deep into the intricate dynamics of this global epidemic. Through rigorous research initiatives spanning diverse domains, from socio-economic factors to technological advancements, we strive to illuminate the complexities surrounding human trafficking. Our efforts aim not only to deepen understanding but also to catalyze tangible solutions and empower communities worldwide. Join us in our mission to uncover truths, advocate for change, and build a future free from exploitation. Explore our research page to learn more and take action.