The overarching focus of Dr. Kelly Cue Davis’ research centers on the investigation of sexual health issues for both men and women and the examination of alcohol-related factors that influence these issues. In particular, she has a strong interest in sexual violence, both in terms of the causes of perpetration and the effects of victimization. Her curiosity about the intersecting hazards of alcohol intoxication, sexual violence and sexual health risks began in her undergraduate career during which she volunteered as a sexual-assault prevention peer educator and a rape crisis advocate.
Dr. Davis pursued this interest while a clinical psychology graduate student at the University of Washington, focusing on the role of alcohol intoxication in sexual violence victimization. After receiving her doctorate in 1999, she suspended her academic career for the next four years to focus on raising her young children. To facilitate her return to a career in academic research after this hiatus, she applied for and received a supplement to promote re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research from the National Institutes of Health. With funding from this supplement, she worked from late 2003 to early 2007 as a research scientist and co-investigator on a grant regarding alcohol use and consensual sexual risk behavior (PI: Dr. William H. George). In March, 2007, she was appointed to the position of research assistant professor at the School of Social Work.
Since that time, Dr. Davis’ primary research focus has centered on the investigation of the cultural, psychological and physiological mechanisms through which alcohol may influence both sexually violent and sexually risky outcomes. Her most recent work integrates these interests by focusing on the public-health risk nexus of alcohol, sexual violence and sexual risk through an independent research program undergirded by a strong theoretical foundation, a mixed methods approach, prevention/intervention applicability, and a consideration of gender-based inequities in sexual and reproductive health rights.
Grounded in integrated theories with an eye towards practical applications, her multi-methods research program aligns with the School of Social Work’s mission through its focus on the complex social problem of sexual violence and its implications for men and women’s sexual health and well-being. Sexual health cannot be maintained without the preservation of sexual rights and the foundation of sexual justice. Because sexual violence undermines these principles, she has a strong commitment to identifying and understanding the mechanisms and pathways that facilitate sexual violence in order to identify critical targets for effective interventions.