School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Amanda Timmers

PhD candidate in Psychology

Amanda Timmers

Women’s Health Scholar Award Recipient

By Adenike Ogunrinde, June 2016

Amanda Timmers is a gracious young woman, a passionate PhD candidate in Psychology at Queen’s University, and a recent recipient of the distinguished Women’s Health Scholar Award. Amanda’s research focuses on sexual psychophysiology. Her dissertation is focused, more specifically, on investigating the determinants of sexual arousal patterns in men and women, and exploring the associated physiological changes that occur. Amanda’s research also involves following women across their menstrual cycles to determine if there are corresponding variations in sexual responding.

Traditional models of sexual arousal that have been used to inform treatment for sexual dysfunction in women have primarily been based on data concerning men’s sexual arousal. Accordingly, by exploring gender differences in arousal, Amanda aims to develop a better understanding of women’s sexual responses, and this will hopefully allow her to help uncover gender-specific models of sexual response. Long-term, this data could then be used to inform gender-specific treatment for sexual dysfunction in women.

Amanda completed both her undergraduate and master’s theses in the Sexuality and Gender lab at Queen’s University prior to the start of her PhD in the Sexuality and Gender lab in 2013. “I have always been interested in the psychophysiological aspects of health, and so research on sexual response and functioning was a natural fit for me”, Amanda said. Crediting the undergraduate course titled ‘Human Sexuality’ for stimulating her initial interest in the field, Dr. Chivers’ research, focusing on sexual arousal, further strengthed this interest and enticed her into academia.“Sexuality is really fundamental to human life... in reproduction (obviously), but also to mental and physical health, and relationships, so it is a really important and relevant area of research”. As I learned from Amanda, even though approximately one third of women are estimated to be suffering from some kind of sexual problem, looking at women’s sexual responses is a relatively new area of research. Collectively, these characteristics make it an especially exciting time to be involved in this work.

Needless to say, Amanda was excited to learn she was a recipient of the Women’s Health Scholar award which contributes $37,000, in total, towards her doctoral research. The Council of Ontario Universities grants this award to up to three excellent gradute students and only two post-doctoral fellows in order to facilitate research that will improve knowledge for women’s health. The ultimate goals of this award are to foster research that will improve health services and products for women, and to improve what can be provided to women by the healthcare system. Amanda disclosed, “I feel very honoured to have been selected for this award. [The award] will be invaluable in contributing to operating costs, allowing me to conduct research focussing on women’s sexual responses and overall sexual health. There’s a huge need for research in this area and so it’s exciting to me to see this recognized by prominent funding agencies”. To qualify for this award, one’s research must be described to the committee in both technical and non-technical terms, and the contributions that will be made to women’s health, in gender or sex, must be clearly outlined and significant.

Ultimately, Amanda is excited to continue her research in women’s sexual health. Long term, she is hopeful she will have the opportunities to continue research in this field for the duration of her career, and in the short term, the receipt of this prestigious award inclines me to believe she will be successful in doing so.

More information on biological indicators of sexual response that Amanda looks at and other aspects of Amanda’s research can be found on Grad Chat, under April 25th.

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