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ASU associate professor wins Fulbright Award to study sexual-assault prevention

A headshot of Associate Professor Kelly Cue Davis smiling at the camera with her mouth closed and wearing a dark blouse with a silver pendant necklace.

Edson College Associate Professor Kelly Cue Davis was selected for the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award.

March 29, 2023

Throughout her career, Arizona State University Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation Associate Professor Kelly Davis has worked to translate her research into action. An expert in alcohol-involved sexual assault, Davis’ studies have been cited in U.S. legislation and have earned her a MERIT Award and now the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award.

The program will take her to the United Kingdom beginning in early 2024 to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Birmingham. Their work will focus on ways to reduce sexual assaults involving alcohol through education and perpetrator prevention efforts.

“We know this is a global issue. On average, about half of all sexual assaults involve alcohol either on the part of the victim or perpetrator but most commonly both,” Davis said.

But there are varying perceptions of responsibility when an assault happens and someone has been drinking. Davis plans to compile existing research evidence and create innovative ways to distribute it.

“We plan to develop a framework to integrate that information and then use that framework to develop best-practice guides for professionals who work with both victims and perpetrators in a professional capacity — so nurses, law enforcement, student code of conduct administrators, etc.,” Davis said.

Through a translational science approach, Davis and colleagues will work to inform these groups about all the variables at play during alcohol-involved sexual assault while challenging outdated myths, misperceptions and double standards, some of which have made it into law.

“There’s problematic legislation in some states where if a victim was drinking, it only legally impairs their ability to consent if it was involuntary consumption,” Davis said.

Their second objective relates to expanding prevention efforts to perpetrators. Right now, Davis said most of the evidence-based interventions focus on potential victims and helping them reduce their risk of being assaulted.

“It’s imperative that we have interventions that focus on perpetrators,” she said.

For this aim, the team will expand Davis’ promising cognitive behavioral therapy intervention to include alcohol-related content.

Throughout the project, Davis will have the opportunity to exchange data and best practices, which will be beneficial for the researchers and stakeholders. 

“I think we can learn from each other about what’s working and what’s not working, changes they’ve seen in their culture over time and what we’ve seen,” Davis said.

Fulbright Scholar Program alumni include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur gfellows and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

“It’s some nice company to be in,” Davis said.

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