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The Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant Program

About the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants

2009 Grant Recipients

Kelly Donahue, Indiana University, Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Christopher Harte, University of Texas, Dept. of Psychology
Brandon Hill, Indiana University, Dept. of Gender Studies
Mike Parent, University of Florida, Dept. of Psychology
Alexis Roth-Graneros, Indiana University, Division of Adolescent Medicine, and Center for Sexual Health Promotion
Kristin Scherrer, University of Michigan, Depts. of Sociology and Social Work

Kelly Donahue, Indiana University, Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Topic: “Early Drinking and Early Dating as Predictors of Sexual Onset: Exploring Potential Genetic and Environmental confounds”

Research suggests that adolescents who begin drinking alcohol and who enter into dating relationships at an earlier age are also likely to experience first sexual intercourse at a younger age than their peers. While most previous research has assumed that this association is causal in nature (i.e., that drinking alcohol and dating at younger ages lead to earlier onset of intercourse), no previous research has examined the possibility that common genetic or shared environmental influence may underlie these behaviors, explaining why they tend to co-occur within individuals. As a result, previous research not accounting for this common influence may be emphasizing a spurious predictive relationship between alcohol use, dating history, and subsequent sexual outcomes. To address this gap in the literature, we will analyze extensive longitudinal data collected from two generations of families in the United States: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) and the Children of the NLSY (CNLSY). We will incorporate data available from multiple adolescent offspring within a household in the CNLSY, using a sibling-comparison design in which analyses are based on comparing children born to the same parents (or who share one parent, in the case of half-siblings). Survival analysis models will be created to examine differences between siblings in terms of a particular outcome (e.g., age at first intercourse) based on differences in risk factor exposure (e.g., differences in age at first alcohol use or first date). The use of sibling comparisons controls for a portion of environmental and genetic factors that may confound the relationship between alcohol use or dating history and onset of intercourse. While sibling comparisons cannot provide an absolute test of a causal relationship between alcohol use and dating and intercourse onset, the use of this approach may provide evidence that these hypothesized risk factors merely appear to be causally related to intercourse onset because confounding factors were not controlled for in previous research comparing individuals in different families.

Christopher Harte, University of Texas, Dept. of Psychology
Topic: “Effects of Smoking Cessation on Sexual Health in Men with Erectile Dysfunction”

Tobacco use constitutes the single most preventable cause of disease and death in the world today and introduces a wide range of diseases. There is a clear link between cigarette smoking and sexual dysfunction, and research indicates that chronic smokers are approximately twice as likely as nonsmokers to report sexual difficulties. The present study is a randomized clinical trial examining the effects of smoking cessation on sexual functioning men. Eighty long-term smokers will be recruited and will be randomized to either an 8-week step-down nicotine patch treatment regimen (n = 50) or to a waiting list (n = 30). Participants' physiological and subjective sexual arousal responses, salivary nicotine levels, and autonomic activity will be assessed at pretreatment, mid-treatment (4 weeks), and at 1-month follow-up. It is hypothesized that individuals successfully treated with the nicotine patch will demonstrate superior physiological and subjective sexual arousal compared to smokers randomized to wait list. If these patterns hold, these results may have the potential for facilitating programs and interventions targeting the prevention and cessation of cigarette smoking in men. This would alleviate enormous economic burdens caused by erectile dysfunction and other smoking-related diseases.

Brandon Hill, Indiana University, Dept. of Gender Studies
Topic: “The Face of Gender: Sexual Dimorphism, Facial Features and Transsexual Passability”

Previous research has found that sex and gender are mapped on the face through sexually dimorphic features that differentiate male and female facial and skeletal structures. However, researchers have yet to discover which specific dimorphic facial and skeletal features are used in the perceptual processing of others’ sex and gender. The purpose of this study is to examine to what degree sexually dimorphic features are used in the perception of facial sex. Using computer morphing technologies, sexually dimorphic features will be morphed in 10% intervals toward different degrees of “masculinity” and “femininity” (defined by the computer program) and presented either in full or partial form to participants. Participants will then be asked categorize stimuli as male or female. Their selection will be recorded and the features of the face used in determining sex will be identified. Additionally, a percentage threshold for “passing” as the opposite-sex will be determined. Findings from this study may help inform future research on what areas of the face could be targeted in order to obtain convincing opposite-sex results (specifically for transsexual/transgender patients). In addition this research is essential in enhancing existing surgical interventions on patients with facial disfigurements, congenital facial malformations (e.g. cleft palate), and traumatic injuries (e.g. burns, skin removal due to tumors of skin cancer, puncture wounds, etc.) who may undergo multiple invasive surgeries to help restore facial function and aesthetics. Furthermore, this research contributes to our overall understanding of face processing and recognition.

Mike Parent, University of Florida, Dept. of Psychology
Topic: “Stereotypes about Gay Men, Lesbians, and Bisexual Men and Women: Content Elucidation and Instrument Development”

The program of research undertaken by Mike C. Parent aims to elucidate the cognitive biases (i.e. stereotypes) individuals hold about lesbians, gay men, and bisexual men and women (LGB), in order to better understand how it is that these cognitive biases work with affective appraisals in the generation of judgments about LGB persons. Specifically, he aims to create a measure that taps the specific cognitive domains of LGB stereotypes and can be used to assess the endorsement of those stereotypes. This measure will be useful to researchers wishing to examine the contribution of particular domains of cognitive stereotypes to judgments about LGB persons (e.g. is disfavor for gay men being in the military related to stereotypes about gay men being weak? Is endorsement of only male-female marriages related to belief that LGB persons are noncommittant?). Assessing the specific domains of cognitive stereotypes, rather than broadly assessing affect toward LGB persons, will allow researchers interested in enacting social justice to focus education and interventions on the most impactful arenas, and to investigate the role these cognitions play in a variety of other applied domains.

Alexis Roth-Graneros: Indiana University, Division of Adolescent Medicine and Indiana University, Center for Sexual Health Promotion
Topic: “It's Trichy: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Understanding Trichomonas Vaginalis in Women”

Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. In the United States there are an estimated 8 million incident cases of T. vaginalis annually; far exceeding estimates of both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea respectively (2.8 million and 716,800 new cases). These estimations may be grossly undervalued since, unlike chlamydial and gonococcal infections, trichomonas is not a reportable infection and data are therefore scarce. Unfortunately, until recently, the public health importance of this pathogen has been largely ignored despite evidence linking T. vaginalis to pelvic inflammatory disease, preterm delivery and low birth weight, cervical cancer, and HIV. In fact, a mathematical model of risk of HIV transmission estimated that T. vaginalis infection increases a woman’s risk for HIV acquisition by 2-3 fold. T. vaginalis control programs that promote testing and treatment among sexually active women and their partners are necessary to curtail this disease and HIV. While we know high-risk women are at increased risk for STI & HIV, there is a deficit of information on the diagnosis and treatment preferences of this population and the feasibility and preferred mechanism(s) for partner treatment and referral. This mixed-methods study will generate critically needed information in these areas by utilizing modified respondent driven sampling (modified RDS), self-collected vaginal swabs, and semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of a sample of high-risk women in Indianapolis, Indiana. The following aims will be investigated: assess if modified RDS is an appropriate recruitment method for high-risk women (i.e. women with a history of commercial sex work, incarceration, sexually transmitted infections, or substance abuse); establish risk factors correlated with T. vaginalis infection in the study population; determine the preferred methods of STI-care in this population; and to explore the feasibility and preferred mechanism for partner referral and treatment. The results from this study will be used to inform future strategies for T. vaginalis control in Indianapolis, Indiana and to promote national policy change by demonstrating the need for a public health mandate for T. vaginalis control.

Kristin Scherrer: University of Michigan, Depts. of Sociology and Social Work
Topic: “Getting 'Bi' in the Family: Intergenerational Familial Relationship of Bisexual Individuals”

Understanding how families respond to and understand their GLBQ family member has increasing importance for contemporary U.S. families. Recent research has made tremendous gains of our understandings of GLBQ sexualities in the family. Yet, despite these inroads, there are several gaps in this research, two of which are critical to this study. First, there is a lack of representation of non-parental family members of origin. While parents are undoubtedly critical in GLBQ people’s lives, current research does very little to explore how other family members, such as siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins may be important to a person’s coming out process. A second gap in this literature is the limited information about how parents may understand G-L-B-Q sexualities differently. For instance, the vast majority of current research describes the experiences of coming out as gay or lesbian. Little is known about if, or how, coming out as bisexual may be unique. In this study I analyze forty in-depth qualitative interviews with bisexual individuals to explore how bisexuality matters for coming out to family members. In particular, I ask about multiple family relationships, such as parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins to explore how non-nuclear conceptions of families may extend our understandings of sexualities in families. Preliminary findings suggest that coming out to family members is a unique experience for bisexual individuals. Findings also indicate that while parent-child relationships are important for bisexual individuals, they are by no means the only important family relationship.

2006 Kinsey Institute Student Grants-in-Aid
2007 & 2008 Kinsey Institute Student Grants-in-Aid

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