Ryan Watson, PhD

Associate Professor (PI)

Human Development and Family Sciences

Research Overview

My program of research is focused on reducing health disparities among sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth and young adults. Motivated by the urgent need to reduce the inequities in health for vulnerable populations, I have focused my scholarship on SGM youth and young adults, their relationships within family and school contexts, and their health experiences. Working with National Science Foundation support as an early career scholar, I employed quantitative techniques using large non-probability and representative datasets to better understand the mechanisms that drive well-documented injustices in health, school, and community experiences for SGM individuals. This work was completed in the US, Norway, and Canada. As a faculty member at UConn, I have extended these experiences to focus on the health (in particular, substance use and disordered eating) among SGM adolescents (funded by NIH, R03DA046827) and emerging adults. My research utilizes data from my LGBTQ+ National Teen Survey, where I partnered with Dr. Puhl and the Human Rights Campaign to collect data from 17,000+ SGM youth aged 13-17 from across the United States. I am repeating this national survey in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign in 2022. My research has been featured on CNN, NPR, Washington Post, Live Science, USA Today, and several other media outlets. My current program of research (funded by NIH, K01DA047918) focuses on preventing health disparities (e.g., HIV) through prevention and intervention strategies (e.g., PrEP) attune to intersectionality. I have leadership roles in the Society of Research on Adolescence and I am a consulting editor for the Journal of Research on Adolescence, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, LGBT Health, and AIDS & Behavior.


B.A. Psychology; Political Science, UCLA, 2009
M.S. Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2012
Ph.D. Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2014

Featured/Selected Publications

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Ryan Watson, PhD
Contact Information
Office Location348 Mansfield Rd
Unit 1058
Storrs, CT 06269-1058