Donna M. Hughes

  • Professor & Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair
  • Email:


Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D., is a professor and holds the Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies. Currently she serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program.

Dr. Hughes is one of the founders of the academic study of human trafficking. She has completed research on the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Europe. She also does research and publishing with students on sexual exploitation and trafficking in Rhode Island. In 2016, she founded the academic, open-access journal Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Exploitation and Violence. She continues to be the editor-in-chief of this international journal.

In 2017, she was awarded the University of Rhode Island, College of Arts and Science Annual Research Award. In 2017 she was awarded the Alice Paul Award for Women Who Have Worked to Confront Men’s Violence Against Women (from the Committee on Feminist Movement History, National Organization for Men Against Sexism.) In December 2010, she was named the winner of the Josephine Butler Abolitionist Award for Policy for “challenging the status quo and creating new abolitionist policy or approaches to sex trafficking in the United States.” In May 2010, she received the University of Rhode Island Research Council Annual Research Award. In recognition of her advocacy for new laws against human trafficking, sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, she has been invited to the White House in Washington, D.C. and the Rhode Island State House to witness the signing of important new laws.