Postdoctoral Fellow’s Book Examines Ties Between Race and Sexuality

The book is part of a larger effort to establish racialized sexualities as its own field of study.

From an academic standpoint, studies of race and sexuality have each blossomed into full-fledged fields of scholarship. But a third field that identifies and analyzes complex connections between the two is still in its infancy, according to UCR’s Brandon Robinson.

Robinson, a UC Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow in UCR’s Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, is one of three authors of the new book “Race and Sexuality,” published by Polity Press.

Co-written by Salvador Vidal-Ortiz of American University and Cristina Khan of the University of Connecticut, the book turns a lens on a host of stereotypes “assumed to be linked to racial minorities and/or sexual and erotic communities.” The goal, Robinson explained, is to build on and expand from the concept of intersectionality to create a clearer understanding how such stereotypes are formed, perpetuated, and often have long-lasting political implications.

For Robinson, an Ohio native who started as a postdoctoral fellow at UCR in July 2017, the book is part of a larger effort to establish racialized sexualities as its own field of study. Robinson’s earlier undergraduate- and master’s-level research looked at racial and gender stereotypes about men of color and sexuality, as well as gay men and online dating, and  similarly featured race and sexuality as an underlying thread.

Brandon Robinson is a UC Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow in UCR’s Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies.

“Likewise, my current work focuses on LGBTQ youth homelessness, which, in the populations I’ve worked with, mostly affects brown and black trans and gender-expansive youth,” Robinson added. “The reality is that race and sexuality operate together as these two categories that can’t actually be separated, even though we do try to separate them at times. They’re so intertwined; to push the field forward, it’s important for these categories to be taken seriously as mutually connected.”

To ground the book’s themes, its authors intersperse theory with a variety of pop culture-infused narratives. One introductory piece delves into the media coverage that followed professional football player Aaron Hernandez’s alleged suicide, much of which focused on Hernandez’s supposed “hidden bisexuality.” Another section, meanwhile, details the ways contemporary “erotic laborers,” from women in pornography to mail-order brides, have become racialized.

“It initially came down to, ‘How do we make this book relatable?’” Robinson said of the authors’ decision to include such narratives. “But it ended up making it very pedagogical. Professors who use this book can pull out the pop-culture references and use them in the classroom as examples to make the text come more alive for their students.”

-Tess Eyrich

UCR Graduate Student Authors Most Downloaded Article in Science Journal

Sangavi Pari is a graduate student at the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering.

A paper written by a Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering graduate student was one of 2017’s top 10 most downloaded articles in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

An image from the paper, by first author Sangavi Pari and her colleagues in Professor Bryan Wong’s lab, was also chosen for the cover of the March 2017 issue.

The paper addressed a pressing need: How to effectively convert wastewater so it is safe to re-use or to release back into the environment.

Current methods involve treating the water with oxidizing compounds that demolish organic and inorganic contaminants. The most widely applied approach uses hydroxyl radical, or HOc, but researchers believe that sulfate radical, or SO4c, will work even better and is cheaper to produce. However, the kinetics by which sulfate radical breaks down contaminants, and the overall safety and effectiveness of the procedure, have not been well studied.

Pari used a variety of computational techniques to examine 110 reactions that play an important role in sulfate radical-based oxidation processes for water reuse and groundwater remediation. She found that mathematical methods commonly used to understand HOc reactions, such as density functional theory, or DFT, perform accurately for conventional reactions of benzene-based contaminants. But she found that high-level quantum calculations should be used to spot-check environmental chemistry reactions that may lie outside the ability of some DFT functionals, particularly for oxidation reactions that involve SO4c and other inorganic compounds.

“The reaction mechanisms involved in water treatment are unknown, and the predictive computational simulations used in this work provide a rational path to predicting and understanding potential wastewater treatments,” said senior author Bryan Wong, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

Pari graduated in 2017 and now works at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Corona. The paper is published as: “Sulfate radical oxidation of aromatic contaminants: a detailed assessment of density functional theory and high-level quantum chemical methods.” Along with Pari and Wong, authors include Inger A. Wang, who was a visiting Research Experiences for Undergraduates student at the time, and Haizhou Liu, who is also an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering at UCR.

Holly Ober


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