Yale University

Ryan J Watson, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Human Development & Family Sciences, University of Connecticut


I focus my research on sexual and gender identity development in relation to a variety of health outcomes for adolescents and young adults. Working with National Science Foundation support, I have examined large, national, and representative datasets to determine risk and protective factors for vulnerable youth. This work was completed in the US, Norway, and Canada. Additionally, I have documented trends in health behaviors for sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth. 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. This 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 am a PI on the LGBTQ+ 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 have leadership roles in the Society of Research on Adolescence and I am a consulting editor for the Journal of Research on Adolescence. I am accepting graduate students and invite any prospective students to contact me with questions.