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KI Student Research Grants Winners

The Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants are awarded annually to six emerging sexology scholars: three at Indiana University, and three at accredited research universities nationwide. Through the Student Research Grants, the Institute seeks to fund significant and innovative research that deals with human sexuality, from a wide array of disciplines and perspectives.

The 2010 grant awardees are:

  • Lindsay Briggs, Indiana University, Dept of Applied Health Science, and Center for Sexual Health Promotion
  • Lelia Chilarescu, Indiana University, Dept of Telecommunications
  • Andrew Hendrickson, Indiana University, Dept of Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Hollie Fuhrmann, University of South Florida, Depts of Anthropology, and Family & Community Health
  • Christina Larson, University of California at Los Angeles, Dept of Psychology
  • Julia Mackaronis, University of Utah, Dept of Psychology


Julia Mackaronis, University of Utah

University of Utah Psychology grad student Julia Mackaronis is interested in the question of how we judge sexual attractiveness by what we perceive is feminine or masculine. In particular, her research project The Effect of Sexual Orientation and Masculinity-Femininity on Perceived Sexual Appeal, will consider if gay men and heterosexual women are attracted to similar types of men, or if lesbians and straight men are attracted to similar types of women. The proposed study is designed to provide information on the interplay of observer gender, sexual orientation, and masculinity-femininity, in addition to the perceived masculinity-femininity of others—and the relative importance of each factor—in how we perceive others’ sexual appeal.

Lelia Chilarescu, Indiana University

Lelia Chilarescu is a Telecommunications graduate student at Indiana University, and is examining how erotic stimuli affect information processing, and whether there is a quantifiable variation between the effect of same-sex and opposite-sex erotic stimuli.

Chilarescu's study, Male Sexual Orientation and Processing of Same- and Opposite-Sex Stimuli, will explore the role of attention in sexual responses of self-identified heterosexual and homosexual men in two ways: it will examine men's spontaneous tendencies to pay attention to or avoid specific types of sexual cues, and it will direct their attention to such cues and assess their sexual and affective responses, through the use of psychophysiological methods.

Lindsay Briggs is a graduate student in the Department of Applied Health Sciences at Indiana University, and at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, and her research centers on current HIV prevention and treatment strategies in Nigeria.

Lindsay Briggs, Indiana University

Steady rates of HIV infection across Africa demonstrate that current HIV prevention programming is still not reaching wide-spread acceptance. Briggs suggests that further research must go beyond studying simple incidence of sexual behaviors. In order to effectively reduce HIV rates, we first must understand the social and cultural context of sexual behaviors that may contribute to infection.

Her innovative research study will use a hybrid qualitative methodology approach that combines grounded theory and community based participatory research to investigate how participants understand Western values in their social context, and how this understanding informs and shapes an individual's sexual behaviors and sexual decision making in relationships. She hopes the results of her research will contribute to a more complex understanding of the social context of sexual behavior and sexual decision making in Southern Nigeria as well as better inform future HIV prevention programs to more effectively reduce HIV rates.

Christina Larson, University of California at Los Angeles

Christina Larson from the University of California at Los Angeles, Department of Psychology is attempting to tie together two previously separate lines of sex & relationship research in her proposed study: Major Histocompatibility Genes, Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Compatibility. Previous research has revealed a connection between sexual satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction, and other studies have also shown evidence that sexual satisfaction is affected by within-couple genetic compatibility.

Larson's research will be the first to to examine the influence of within-couple genetic compatibility on relationship quality, extending previous research investigating genetic-based preferences to examine the effect of genetic compatibility on relationship satisfaction and longevity, and how sexual satisfaction mediates this association. She will also be examining whether the use of hormonal contraceptives alters the sexual satisfaction of the partners in the relationship.

Andrew Hendrickson's project focusses on the cognitive factors involved in sexual partner choices made by teenage women, and the profound health consequences of these choices, including sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy. His study will involve previously collected data from the Young Women’s Project (YWP). The YWP enrolled 387 adolescent women who provided daily diaries for up to 8 consecutive years, including the traits they desired in an ideal mate and their encounters with real mates.

Andrew Hendrickson, Indiana University

Using this data, Hendrickson will generate agent-based models (ABMs) of cognitive mate search, allowing him to link the difference between ideal and actual mate characteristics with specific sexual and contraceptive behaviors with that mate, as well as diseases or pregnancy associated with that partnership. Hendrickson hopes that any correlations he finds between these individual differences in decision style and risky health outcomes, including the timing and amount of unprotected sex and the number of simultaneous partners, may lead to improvements in the early identification of risky behavior patterns. Hendrickson is a graduate student at Indiana University, in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Hollie Furhmann, University of South Florida

Hollie Furhmann is a graduate student in the Departments of Anthropology, and Family & Community Health at the University of South Florida. Her research involves the role of emergency contraception (EC) in young women's strategies for preventing unintended pregnancies. Her project, Young Women’s Perspectives of Emergency Contraception as a Strategy for Preventing Unintended Pregnancy, focuses attention in particular on the contraceptive, Plan B. Plan B reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy by 89% when taken within 72 hours of vaginal intercourse, but has not gained wide use since it was approved as an over-the-counter medication by the FDA in 2006.

Furhmann will be conducting an interdisciplinary, mixed methods approach to describe young women’s perspectives of unintended pregnancy and their perspectives of emergency contraception, particularly since Plan B’s shift to over-the-counter status for consumers aged 17 and older, and to describe how young women incorporate emergency contraception into their strategies for preventing unintended pregnancy.

Congratulations to all our award winners!

For more information on these students, their research projects, and the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants, please visit the Kinsey Institute website.




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