Sexual Violence Research Initiative: Faculty

Kate Walsh headshotDr. Kate Walsh

Associate Professor, Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies

Dr. Kate Walsh’s interdisciplinary program of research focuses on the intersection of trauma exposure, mental disorders, and substance use disorders with a particular focus on risk factors for and outcomes of sexual violence. One line of research addresses risk factors for sexual violence perpetration and victimization in multiple contexts, including the military and college. This research focuses on understanding risk factors at multiple ecological levels (individual, interpersonal, and broader environmental/societal) with the goal of developing multi-level prevention programs that are tailored to specific environments. A second line of research focuses on secondary prevention and treatment of negative sequelae associated with sexual violence victimization including posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance use disorders. She is also interested in understanding psychobiological mechanisms underlying the development of psychopathology, including emotion dysregulation and cortisol reactivity, with the goal of translating this knowledge into more effective treatment programming. A third line of research addresses the intergenerational transmission of trauma and its negative sequelae. She has conducted research on maternal stress, including exposure to trauma, and its impact on fetal and offspring development, and she has recently completed data collection for a small study of adolescent girls and maternal caregivers to better understand the role of emotion dysregulation and risk recognition in the intergenerational transmission of sexual violence victimization risk.

Janet Hyde

Dr. Janet S. Hyde

Professor of Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies
Chair, Department of Gender & Women’s Studies

The primary focus of Dr. Janet Hyde’s research has been the psychology of women and gender.  The author of the Gender Similarities Hypothesis (2005), she has conducted numerous meta-analyses on psychological gender differences and similarities in domains such as math performance, depression, and sexuality. In the area of sexual violence, she has conducted research on peer sexual harassment victimization in adolescence, using longitudinal data. Most recently, she led an interdisciplinary team in the writing of an article assembling the evidence that challenges the gender binary. Hyde is also the author of an undergraduate textbook, Understanding Human Sexuality (14 ed., McGraw-Hill, 2020), which contains an entire chapter on sexual coercion.

Lara GerassiDr. Lara Gerassi

Assistant Professor, Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work

Lara B. Gerassi’s research focuses on enhancing the health and well-being of people who are involved in the sex trade and/or are at risk of sex trafficking. Her work uses an intersectional, anti-oppressive approach to (1) understand how sex trafficking experiences differ based on race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation among other identities; (2) improve sex trafficking identification practices among health and social service providers; and (3) strengthen the health and community responses for people at risk of sex trafficking and those with lived experiences of sex trafficking and homelessness. She uses community-engaged approaches to increase methodological rigor of her studies and translate knowledge into practice.

Chontel SyfoxDr. Chontel Syfox

Assistant Professor, Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Dr. Syfox’s work focuses on the early reception and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Second Temple Jewish literature. Her forthcoming monograph (under contract with Brill) uses interdisciplinary interpretative lenses, such as feminist interpretation and theories of gender performance and multiple masculinities, to examine the construction of gender in The Book of Jubilees. Dr. Syfox’s course offerings include a seminar on gender violence in the Ancient Near East.

Mariel BarnesMariel Barnes

(Incoming) Assistant Professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs

Mariel Barnes’ research investigates the impact of the welfare state on everyday violence against women (EVAW) with a focus on highly industrialized countries, particularly in Europe. Her book project argues that Europe’s extremely high rates of physical and sexual violence against women are an unintended consequence of implementation and promotion of the “universal breadwinning model” – a set of family policies that are designed to alleviate the burdens of familyhood on women but in actuality, prompt a violent backlash from men. Mariel utilizes a multi-method empirical strategy which incorporates cross-national and sub-national statistical analysis, survey research, interviews, and ethnographic observation. This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, and the Institute for Humane Studies.