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Meet the New Managing Editors: Emily Mendelson

A smiling white woman with curly hair in a dark green dress, glasses, and wearing two delicate necklaces along with several rings. Trees and a concrete bridge are in the background.

Sex and Psychology is expanding! I’m pleased to introduce the latest additions to the team this week and next, who will help continue our mission of bringing you science-based sex ed. First up:

Emily Mendelson (she/her) is a first-year PhD student in Communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Emily is originally from New York, but she spent the past two years in Texas getting her master’s at Baylor University and coaching the Baylor Debate Team. Her work focuses on consent and hookups, and she considers herself a sexual communication researcher. Emily is also one of the new Co-Managing editors of Sex and Psychology.  

I asked Emily some questions about herself and her experiences researching about sex. Below are some questions and answers from our conversation. Welcome, Emily!

Q: How did you first get involved in sex research? 

A:  I like to say that I ‘stumbled’ my way into sex research. My first year of my undergraduate degree at Binghamton University I was taking a class called “Psychology of the Human Body” with Dr. Ann Merriwether. One day before class ended, she told us to join her for her Sex Lab meeting, which was conveniently right down the hallway. After that first meeting, I never left! I remember that my first project that year was about Tinder and sexual satisfaction, and I have been researching about hookups ever since. I’m incredibly grateful for my Sex Lab family, being a member of lab prepared me well for graduate school and I have a group of awesome mentors and colleagues to reach out.

Q: How did you end up in Communication?

A: I was a little bit of a weird student – my bachelor’s is in Business Analytics, but I like to joke that I ‘majored in Sex Lab.’ However, I also competed in policy debate for four years with the Binghamton Debate Team, which exposed me to a vast array of critical theory, rhetorical criticism, and theories of argumentation. A lot of debaters end up in communication because of how related it is to the arguments they’re reading, and I was fortunate to have some friends at Baylor who convinced me to apply to their comm master’s program. For my PhD, I was actually deciding between continuing in communication or switching to public health, but I decided to stay in comm because of the flexibility I have within the discipline.

Q: What are your research interests and what are you working on now?

A: My research interests are sex, consent, disability studies, and more recently, how social media influences our interpersonal relationships. My thesis applied the Theory of Motivated Information Management to communication about sexual desire during college hookups. Currently, I’m working on research that is a little more theoretical. One project is taking the concepts of public intimacy and imitation publics and asking how our interpersonal relationships are influenced when displays of public intimacy go viral. I’m also working on trying to synthesize a lot of work from critical disability studies on care and apply it to how we think about consent in quantitative research.

Q: What’s something about sex that you later learned was a myth or falsehood?

A: It took me a long time to learn that a lot of people don’t experience innate, automatic sexual attraction that you see often in popular media. Instead, there’s many different ways to turn people on, and a lot more to the ‘build up’ to sex than foreplay (which shouldn’t just be thought of as build-up to sex either!).

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of being a student and researcher? 

A: I love doing my nails! In another life, I would be a certified nail technician, but for now I’ll settle for doing mine and my friends’.

Q: Do you have a favorite nail polish brand or company?

A: For gel polish, I love Beetles! It’s the most accessible to beginners and has some of the best colors I’ve seen. Just make sure you’re listening to nail technicians and following all of the proper safety procedures!

Q: Do you have any pets?

A: I have two cats, Beans and Pudge! Beans is a calico we picked up off the sidewalk as a stray and now loves blankets, sleeping, and will tuck herself in for naps. Pudge is a gray Siamese cat with bright blue eyes, and he plays fetch!

Two cats sit on a bed -- one cat is a calico with black, orange, and white splotches. The other cat is a siamese cat with light grey fur and darker fur on his face.

Emily’s cats, Beans and Pudge.

Q: Where can folks find you?

A: Twitter: @emmendelson, Linkedin:

Q: Is there anything else you want people to know? 

A: I’ve been loving watching BattleBots recently. And Bake Off, of course.

Welcome to Sex and Psychology, Emily! 

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology? Click here for more from the blog or here to listen to the podcast. Follow Sex and Psychology on Facebook, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit to receive updates. You can also follow Dr. Lehmiller on YouTube and Instagram.

Image Credits: Photos provided by Emily Mendelson

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