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Sari van Anders April 2018

World-class sex researcher joins Queen’s

Thursday March 29, 2018
By Dave Rideout, Communications Officer

Leading human sexuality and gender scholar, Sari van Anders, named Canada 150 Research Chair.

 

Renowned sex researcher Sari van Anders is joining Queen’s University as the Canada 150 Research (C150) Chair in Social Neuroendocrinology, Sexuality, and Gender/Sex, an appointment that grants her $2.45 million in research funding over the next seven years. She is one of only 26 C150 research chairs appointed nationwide by this competitive, one-time federal government initiative designed to recruit top-tier academic talent from around the world to conduct their work at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

“Being selected as a Canada 150 Research Chair is an incredible honour and a very personal one as a Canadian. I’m so excited to be able to come back to do my research, and to join Queen’s University to do so,” says Dr. van Anders. “Queen’s is such a vibrant university, and it’s a privilege to be able to join one of Canada’s leading research institutions.”

Dr. van Anders is a Torontonian who has been a professor in Psychology, Women’s Studies, and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan for the past decade.

“It's truly remarkable that Canada highlighted research as one of its priorities for celebrating and nation-building,” she says. “To be included in that national celebration with a research program focusing on feminist and queer science as well as gender and sexuality is an honor that seems uniquely Canadian. Canada is an international leader on gender equity and sexual diversity and I'm excited to be a part of this.”

Dr. van Anders’ own research involves an interdisciplinary study of human sexuality, gender, and sex. She has created sexual configurations theory – a new way to conceptualize, measure, and explore how people experience their genders, sexes, and sexualities. She also is a leader in social neuroendocrinology, which seeks to understand how social behaviours influence hormones in social context – such as how sexual behaviours, erotic thoughts, or gender socialization change testosterone levels in the body, for instance.

Dr. van Anders is also a sex researcher and explains: “I see my research contributing to our understandings of sexual phenomena like orgasm, fantasy, desire, and pornography – as well as larger related constructs like gender and sexual diversity. Some of this research connects to hormones like testosterone, and some of it is to understand sexuality on its own as important phenomena in people’s lives and our culture.”

The Canada 150 Research Chair funding will bolster understanding of these and many more areas of Dr. van Anders' interdisciplinary work, including how social norms, gender roles, and power dynamics affect the body’s physiology, and how laypeople and scientists can conceptualize gender and sexuality.

“Dr. van Anders is a world-class scholar whose work, including her role as editor of the esteemed Annual Review of Sex Research, has continually expanded and shaped our understanding of human sexuality,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Joining Queen’s as part of the prestigious C150 program, she will significantly bolster an already-impressive sex and gender research portfolio at the university.”

Dr. van Anders’ move to Queen’s will see her join other leading international sex researchers, including female sexuality expert Meredith Chivers and sexual function/dysfunction expert Caroline Pukall.

“As part of our academic evolution, Queen’s will see its faculty grow, diversify, and strengthen over the next five years,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “Dr. van Anders’ expertise will lend significantly to our institution’s research capabilities, and many aspects of her work exemplify the diversity, equity, and inclusion we value. The Canada 150 Research Chair project is certainly bringing the world’s brightest to our country.”

Dr. van Anders’ appointment as a Canada 150 Research Chair was made official at a ceremony in Ottawa on March 29, 2018. She assumes her new role at Queen’s University in the Department of Psychology with cross appointments to the Department of Gender Studies and the Centre for Neuroscience Studies in July 2018.

Read the original Queen's Gazette story