CHSS Gets Our Own Building!!

The Center for Human Sexuality Studies CHSS) has moved into our own building!  The full-time faculty, two research scientists at the Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative (ISRC), two academic secretaries, and seven graduate assistants are all together in one building on Widener’s main campus in Chester, PA.  We also have a conference room for meetings, dissertation defenses, and small classes, with video cameras and a screens for interactive web conferencing.

We are located on the corner of 13th and Potter Streets, right across the street from Lathem Hall.  Feel free to stop by between 9am and 5pm and introduce yourself to the administrative secretaries, Syreita Jackson and Kathy Mitchell.  Just be aware that Widener offices are closed throughout the university on Fridays until August 11.

The Center’s USPS mailing address has stayed the same, as have our phone numbers and emails (remember all emails are now instead of Our new physical address is 501 E 13th street.

Please keep your eye out for an email about an open house we are planning to host in the fall semester.

Brent Satterly: Faculty Spotlight

Brent A. Satterly, Ph.D., LCSW, CSE, CST is an associate professor and the director of the BSW Program in Widener University’s Center for Social Work Education. He teaches as well in our program, particularly HSED 592. Dr. Satterly received his Masters of Social Service from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality Education from our program when it was at the University of Pennsylvania. With over 20 years of clinical experience, He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Pennsylvania and a Certified Sexuality Educator and Sex Therapist through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT).

Widener University gave Dr. Satterly the prestigious Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2016. His areas of expertise include human sexuality and social work pedagogies, clinical work with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) populations, GLBT professional identity management, and HIV/AIDS. He is well published, including his recent 2016 co-authored textbook, Sexuality Concepts for Social Workers. He is a member of good standing in AASECT, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the Pennsylvania Association of Undergraduate Social Work Education (PAUSWE), and the Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors in Social Work (BPD).

Program Spotlight: CHSS in Japan

By Mark Levand

In May, 2015, Widener’s School of Human Service Professions embarked on a trip to Japan with more than 40 people. Ultimately led by Dr. Sachi Ando, a professor from Widener’s Center for Social Work Education, the Widener group participated in many different culturally informative endeavors. While three different centers were on the trip (Human Sexuality, Social Work, and Clinical Psychology) with their own respective faculty, this is a brief synopsis of what the CHSS representatives did while in Japan.

We began our trip in Tokyo. Faculty member Dr. Sabitha Pillai-Friedman and students Jessie Andre, Kayleigh Shepard, Sarah D’Andrea, and myself represented the Center for Human Sexuality Studies on this trip. After adjusting to the time difference, we were ready to get into the academic aspect of the trip–giving presentations at two different universities.

The members of the International Christian University (ICU) were gracious with their time and resources, informing us about the state of gender and sexual identity support that they offer to their student body. CHSS students were asked to give presentations on how sexuality research is conducted at Widener as well as the research into breast cancer patients and sexual self-schema led by Dr. Pillai-Friedman. After our presentations, ICU doctoral students presented some of their research to us followed by presentations given by the undergraduate students. A lively question and answer session ensued following the inspiring presentations.

Members of the University of Tokyo (UT) were equally as generous with their time and resources. After exchanging presentations with the faculty and students of UT, we embarked on a carefully planned evening of exploration into the practical application of sexual and gender identity support on the streets of Tokyo. We were given a tour of various organizations in Tokyo that act as informational resources around sexuality.

We also attended a fantastic Gender Forum at Rikkyo University where we learned about the state of gender equality (and inequality) in Japan. Afterwards, we met with a government official to hear about what was being done to address the rights and concerns of LGBT identified people. We were even fortunate enough to meet with a psychosexual therapist over lunch who informed us of the Japanese phenomenon of love hotels.

Various famous sights were visited during our stay as well—the Shibuya crossing, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo tower, and the like.

We then got a chance to travel on the bullet train to Osaka. During our time in Osaka, we visited places like Nara, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. Nara and Kyoto are known for some of the most beautiful temples and shrines in the world. We also visited Doshisha University and heard from another prominent sexual scholar about his research in Japan.

In Hiroshima, the entire Widener group was given the opportunity to walk through the various memorials and museums constructed after the detonation of the A-Bomb during WWII. We all listened to a moving story of one woman’s experience of nuclear warfare and the devastation the bomb brought on people and the environment. We were then able to attend an assisted living facility specifically for survivors of the Atomic Bomb. Here we heard more stories of the heartbreak and havoc brought on by the nuclear disaster.

Amidst all of this business, scholarship, sightseeing, and leisure time, we were often reminded of the importance of code switching. In many fields, code switching is the concept of how to appropriate the specialized language and content about your field for a general audience. Computer technicians may experience this when they put technical jargon into words that the average person may understand and find useful. In sexuality, we may speak about content differently in various settings: in class, with peers or colleagues, with our families, with different groups to which we may present, or clients we may have in therapy. As human sexuality professionals, we must often navigate a complex landscape for code switching at the intersection of sensitivity around sexual issues, cultural nuances and expectations, lived physical realities (gender, race, etc.), and power dynamics around sexual information. This trip allowed us to practice code switching within our group from Widener (with social work and clinical psychology representatives) as well as cross-cultural code switching–code switching for an audience with culturally (U.S.) American ideologies around sexuality to those with Japanese ideologies.

Overall, this course has been an incredible experience offering a complex view of sexuality across different cultures. The ways in which different cultures deal with sexuality are truly amazing and quite unique. We were given information that would have been difficult or impossible to acquire while on a similar trip with a different group. Sexuality is not a specific U.S. experience. Other countries and cultures have addressed issues around sexuality in different ways. It appears that there still remains many things the U.S. culture can learn from others.

Linda Hawkins: Faculty/Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Linda Hawkins has been a champion for Transgender and Gender Expansive children and youth for nearly two decades. She received her Ph.D. from CHSS, and teaches here as an adjunct instructor. In January, 2014, Dr. Hawkins co-founded the Gender & Sexuality Development Clinic at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). To date, the clinic has supported over 500 families from Virginia to New York, and supporting all of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Dr. Hawkins recently shared about her work: Our work since last November has become increasingly political and policy related to assure the safety, health and well-being of our patients and their families. In the first few weeks following the November election, we organized a law clinic where a dozen lawyers from throughout Philadelphia came to offer pro bono legal support to our families.

We have also partnered with the Policy Lab at CHOP to create further efforts for change,  The White House recently walked back protections for transgender students that allowed them to use school restrooms corresponding to their gender identify. This type of “bathroom policing” can have serious health consequences for transgender students and can lead to the development of unhealthy and disordered eating patterns, urinary tract infections or gastrointestinal distress. Furthermore, when transgender individuals don’t receive needed medical and mental health services, rates of attempted suicide can be as high as 40 percent.

In a their blog post, PolicyLab researchers and members of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic Nadia Dowshen, MD, MSHP, Linda Hawkins, PhD, MSEd, LPC, Susan Lee, MPH, and Siobhan Gruschow, MPH, MEd, detailed the transgender student protections removed, as well as actions across the country that are further threatening these protections. For example, in just the first two months of 2017, 14 states have introduced legislation to impose similar bathroom policies on transgender individuals.

As new health policy issues arise across the country, PolicyLab researchers continue building evidence-based solutions to address and inform how to protect children, adolescents and families. We invite you to read our latest blog posts related to this work (previewed below) and continue to engage with us as we navigate the landscape of issues that impact patients and families.

Rosara Torrisi: Alumni Spotlight

The last, but not least :), of our awardees to be honored in this series on graduate awards is Dr. Rosara Torrisi.

The William R. Stayton Award for Applied Leadership in Human Sexuality is granted to a graduating doctoral student from the Center for Human Sexuality Studies who has demonstrated significant leadership in the field of Human Sexuality as a student, a scholar and/or a practitioner.

This year’s awardee was Rosara Torrisi.

Having set out to become a sex therapist at the age of 16, Rosara earned a BA at Barnard College where she worked in their sexuality lab and at the Kinsey Institute, prior to receiving her MSSW from Columbia University. While pursuing her MEd and PhD here at Widener, she assisted in standardizing a suicidality assessment, and was recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for her work on autism and ADHD. For three years, Rosara led the Student Special Interest Group for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, and was a member of the 2016 Scientific Review Committee for the annual conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Rosara founded the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy where she has mentored Widener students, and now employs our graduates. In 2015 and 2017 she was named the Best Sex Therapist on Long Island. Having focused her dissertation research on the sexual functioning of lesbian survivors of breast cancer, she now serves on the council for a national breast cancer support organization. Rosara lives on Long Island where she volunteers to teach the “Our Whole Lives” sex education curriculum at her local Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Ilyssa Boseski: Student Spotlight

Continuing in our series featuring winners of Graduate Student Awards in May. Ilyssa’s is a student spotlight because she is still with us a student, currently pursuing her Ph.D.

Community Service Leadership Awards are granted to outstanding M.Ed. graduates from the Center for Human Sexuality Studies (CHSS) who have demonstrated significant leadership to the CHSS community and/or through civic engagement with the wider community, related to sexuality programming, research, service, or policy contributions.  Two such awards made annually, for a student in the Sexuality Education track and a student in the Sex Therapy track. 

The Community Service Leadership Award (M.Ed. Sex Therapy track) goes to Ilyssa Boseski, whose focus on veterans’ sexual health was inspired by her father’s challenges as a veteran who died from HIV/AIDS incurred from a blood transfusion. During her time at Widener, Ilyssa has worked as an assistant to Sexuality Archives librarian Molly Wolf, and provided leadership for the annual Careers in Sexuality Conference. She also served this year as Vice Chair of the Human Sexuality Education Student Organization  (HSEDSO), and is a member of multiple honor societies. In addition to providing client therapy at the Coatesville Veteran’s Administration facility, Ilyssa has lead training workshops for their staff about the effects of combat trauma on sexual health, and built a library for them on sexuality and disability. She also worked on collaborative ventures with local Veteran Treatment Courts. Illysa’s presentations on military sexual health at national conferences have added to her growing reputation with other professionals. She is contributing to a documentary “Making Love After Making War: Supporting Intimate Relationships for Wounded Warriors and Their Families,” and has submitted over a dozen entries for an upcoming Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality. Ilyssa lives in Aston, and thanks her partner and parents for all their support.

Chaz Wampold: Alumni Spotlight

The Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline. Both methodological and substantive quality are judged. The award is given each year to a CHSS doctoral student who has successfully defended their dissertation in the preceding 12 months.


At the May 18 Graduate Awards Ceremony the award went to Charles (Chaz) Wampold for his dissertation, Early/Late, Top/Bottom: Fraternal Birth Order and Anal-Erotic Roles of Men who have Sex with Men.

Having read widely on the topic of sexuality for many years while working as an attorney, Charles discovered the Widener program, applied, and received his M. Ed. in Sexuality Education in 2014. He had previously received his B.A. in Anthropology from Rice University and his J.D. from New York University School of Law. Charles’ main areas of research interest are long-term romantic love and the biological correlates of erotic role preferences of men who have sex with men, a topic about which his dissertation research has made a significant contribution. He presented his findings in May at the World Association for Sexual Health in Prague. Charles lives in Princeton, New Jersey. From 25 years, he was a Partner in the law firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath, where he specialized in estate planning and trust & estate litigation. Charles enjoys travel, being with his spouse, and bragging about their three talented daughters.


This correlational study examined whether a phenomenon known as the fraternal birth order effect (FBOE) is a general predictor of same-sex attraction in men or whether it is associated with a specific erotic preference for receptive anal intercourse.  FBOE describes the phenomenon that homosexual men, as well as androphilic male-to-female (mtf) transsexuals, tend to have a greater number of older brothers than do cisgender heterosexual men. FBOE is widely believed to be a phenomenon that is a marker for an innate, biological predisposition for androphilia in chromosomal males. The correlation between number of older brothers and androphilic mtf transsexuality is much stronger than the correlation between number of older brothers and male homosexual identity. Given that androphilic mtf transsexuals are highly likely to exhibit a preference for receptive intercourse, the existing data in FBOE literature is not inconsistent with the hypothesis that FBOE is a more potent predictor of a male’s erotic role orientation than of a man’s sexual orientation. Further, studies have demonstrated a link between boyhood gender nonconformity and an adult preference for receptive intercourse.

This study sought to examine whether FBOE is equally applicable to men who have sex with men (MSM) who engage mostly in penetrative anal intercourse (Tops), MSM who engage mostly in receptive anal intercourse (Bottoms), and MSM who engage in penetrative and receptive intercourse in approximately equal proportions (Versatiles). Going in to the study, it was hypothesized that Bottoms have a greater number of older brothers than do other MSM. In other words, FBOE is not a predictor of sexual orientation per se; rather, it is a predictor of anal-erotic role orientation (AERO).  This hypothesis was tested surveying a sample of 243 MSM who engage in anal intercourse. As hypothesized, when AERO is measured by objective behavioral frequency, Bottoms, on average, had a significantly greater number of older brothers than did Tops or Versatiles. However, this difference was less robust (p being between .05 and .15 on most relevant statistical tests) when AERO was determined by a measure of subjective preference, rather than an objective/behavioral measure.

The research provides support for the proposition that the propensity to engage in receptive intercourse (volvivity), or the propensity to engage in penetrative intercourse (inrumptivity), may be shaped by prenatal factors. If these characteristics are innate, then perhaps for some men the biological foundation of gay identity is not so much an atypical erotic attraction to masculine forms as it is an atypical preference for volvive behaviors.  An individual’s sexual object orientation and erotic role orientation can be plotted against two axes: the androphilic/gynephilic axis and the volvive/inrumptive axis. The androphilic/gynephilic axis equates with the popular notion of sexual orientation—androphilic males being gay and gynephilic males being heterosexual. It is possible that a person’s positions along each of these two axes are fixed at birth but it is also possible that an individual’s position on one axis is fixed at birth, and that his position on the other axis is not, but the fixed characteristic influences the postnatal development of the variable characteristic. This study provides evidence that the fraternal birth order effect is a phenomenon that relates directly to a male’s prenatal placement on the volvive/inrumptive axis.  Thus, the conclusion of most fraternal birth order studies—that the fraternal birth order effect relates to prenatal placement on the androphilic/gynephilic axis—needs to be re-examined.



Introducing our CHSS Blog

Welcome to our CHSS blog. It will feature spotlights on students, alumni and faculty as well as program updates. If you’d like to share your news, please email or go to one of the links below to fill out a short form.

Ericka Hart: Alumni Spotlight

Community Service Leadership Awards are granted to outstanding M.Ed. graduates from the Center for Human Sexuality Studies (CHSS) who have demonstrated significant leadership to the CHSS community and/or through civic engagement with the wider community, related to sexuality programming, research, service, or policy contributions.

Two such awards made annually, for a student in the Sexuality Education track and a student in the Sex Therapy track. We will feature each in a new post.


The award given for the M.Ed. Education track at the recent Graduate Awards Ceremony is for Ericka Hart. Congratulations Ericka!

As a kinky, poly, cancer-warrior, activist, sexuality educator and performer, Ericka Hart has taught sexuality education for six years to audiences ranging from elementary-aged youth to adults across New York City, including teaching at Columbia University. She recently began working as the Director for Education and Youth Programs for the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, advocating for and serving LGBTQ youth in schools. Her dedication to sexuality education was catalyzed by her service as a Peace Corps HIV/AIDs volunteer in Ethiopia. Diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in 2014 at the age of 28, she realized that neither her identity as a queer black woman, nor her sex life as a survivor, was acknowledged in her treatment. Since this time, Ericka has become a national possibility model for women of color living with and surviving breast cancer, helping raise awareness around the importance of sexual health-related cancer screenings and insurance coverage. She has engaged in several national campaigns to help challenge systemic patriarchy and anti-black standards of beauty. Ericka’s inspirational story has been featured in national publications, and she is now on a national speaking tour. Ericka lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner/manager in an apartment full of plants, one of which is named Whitney Houston.