It is imperative in science to doubt; it is absolutely necessary, for progress in science, to have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature. Richard Feynman
I was a clinician, researcher, educator and worked in policy in HIV/AIDS for 4+ years before realizing through my own experiences, the experiences of those that I love, and the experiences of those that I worked with, that I wanted to make more systemic change aimed at mitigating body/desire associated shame and the deleterious consequences of feeling like “you are not OK” in your own skin. That sent me down another path; that of graduate school, but also the scary and messy path of self-exploration. My own experiences of feeling like I need to be “a certain way” to be acceptable (in control, accommodating, without needs or desires, “perfect”) manifested in rigidity, self-monitoring and exulusively "living-in-your-head" space that sucked me of any joy and spontaneity in life (but at least it was “safe”). I needed and wanted to awaken to my own embodied/feminine side of myself; the side that gives emotions and affect value and trusts intuition and experience as a way of knowing and being in the world.
As well, my professional work involved primarily gay men; who had been told clearly by our heteronormative social customs and associated policy, that their bodies and desires were not OK. Bodies and their messy, experiences, emotions, and desires are spaces of shame for a lot of people and carry with that shame health impacts in the immediate and across the life course. I want to that to change. And for those who don’t now and have never felt shame or discomfort in their own skin; wow! Awesome! I want to learn from you so that all people may feel the freedom and ease in accepting themselves just as they are.
My research areas include the process of sexuality and gender across the life course, with particular focus on early childhood through emerging adulthood (18-30 years). Relatedly, I intend to explore the implications of gendered and heteronormative socialization that is reinforced through relationships between individuals, and within families, communities, and institutions. At the micro level, I focus on how these assumptions manifest in psychological aggressoin, violence, and negative sexual sequallae in intimate relationships. I am also interested in how this connects with larger patriarchal state surveillance projects which normalize monitoring behaviors under the discourse of benevolence. I hope that, by working transdisciplinarily and across all levels of the social ecology; men and their sexual partners will experience increased health and well-being via deeper connection to self and others (working at more proximal spheres of influence), and that those social relationship will be supported through policy that prioritizes equity, compassion, and interdependence.
I use mixed methods in order to work and communicate across disciplines, currently dominant in my substantive area of research. In doing so, I will provide a social work perspective to a field that has been traditionally represented by public health, sociology, and psychology. I plan to focus on conceptual and intervention research that has practical implications for translation into social work and public health practice and policy. My use of feminist methods and methodologies is both a responsible way to do answer my research questions, and as well, is aligned with social justice committments. I hope that my subsequent work will include community collaboration and participation that is congruent with social justice frameworks and will help me understand the nuances of identity formation and maintenance and relationship and sexual beliefs and behaviors. Using ecological and feminist frameworks in my substantive area of interest will further scientific knowledge of socialization and development and inform interventions regarding innovative strategies to create and maintain more flexible "ways of being" for all genders that support positive relational and sexual outcomes and mental and physical well-being.