Ryan J. Watson (he/him)

Associate Professor



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. Collaborating with a prolific team of scholars, I publish peer-reviewed empirical papers written in the spirit of better understanding the mechanisms that drive well-documented injustices in health, school, and community experiences for SGM individuals. In particular, I have recently focused on health experiences (e.g., substance use and disordered eating) among SGM adolescents (funded by NIH, R03DA046827) and emerging adults. Related to this line of research, I have utilized data from my team’s LGBTQ+ National Teen Survey, a dataset collected in 2017 of 17,000 SGM youth aged 13-17 from across the United States. A complimentary body of research (funded by NIH, K01DA047918) focuses on preventing health disparities (e.g., HIV) through prevention and intervention strategies (e.g., PrEP) attuned to intersectionality.

My research has been featured on CNN, NPR, Washington Post, USA Today, and several other media outlets. 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.

Please visit our lab website for free copies of our publications and more information about our research.


Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2015-2016
Ph.D., Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2014
M.S., Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2012
B.A., Psychology, Political Science, UCLA, 2009


Professional Interests

  • Sexual/Gender Minority Youth and Young Adult Health
  • Sexual Health, HIV Prevention
  • Family Acceptance and Rejection
  • Intersections of Family, School, and Sexuality
  • Hooking Up among Sexual/Gender Minorities


Active Research Funding

Principal Investigator, “PrEP and substance use among sexual minority young adults”

K01DA047918; National Institutes of Health—NIDA, Career Development Award

Duration: 4/1/2019 – 3/31/2024; Total: $952,225


Principal Investigator, SGM youth substance use: Subgroup differences and protective factors”     

R03DA046827;  National Institutes of Health—NIDA, R03

Duration: 9/15/2019–8/31/2022; Total: $182,051

Ryan Watson
Contact Information
Mailing Address348 Mansfield Rd U1058 Storrs, CT, 06269
Office LocationFSB 335