I study predictors and consequences of risky sexual behavior, with a primary focus on early adolescence. More specifically, I am interested in the association between risk factors occurring in childhood and early adolescence and subsequent sexual risk behavior, as well as the association between early sexual risk behavior and subsequent mental and sexual health outcomes. By examining longitudinal data and using genetically sensitive designs to address these questions, I am able to investigate whether there may be a causal relationship between these risk factors and outcomes or whether these behaviors simply tend to co-occur within individuals.
Because of my general interest in the interplay between sexual and mental health, I also hope to use my research to improve the content of sexual health education and prevention programs. My work may help to identify individuals most likely to engage in sexual risk behavior as well as particular behaviors that may be causally associated with later risky behavior. I am also interested in looking at the relationship between mental health and sexual behavior in high-risk populations, such as individuals who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.