Queen’s researcher awarded prestigious fellowship

L’Oreal-UNESCO Excellence in Research Fellowship awarded to Kelly Suschinsky for her studies on female sexuality and arousal.

Queen’s researcher Kelly Suschinsky.
Photo supplied by Kelly Suschinsky

Queen’s post-doctoral fellow Kelly Suschinsky has recently been awarded with the L’Oreal-UNESCO Excellence in Research Fellowship, a prestigious award honouring women working in science. 

Awarded annually, the L’Oreal-UNESCO prize aims to help provide funding to Canadian research projects. This year, Suschinsky was one of five Canadians awarded the prize for their work. In an interview with The Journal on Tuesday, Dr. Suschinsky said the $20,000 funding she’ll receive will help her to continue her studies on female sexuality and arousal in the Sexuality and Gender Laboratory.   

She said her research has found “women on average tend to respond physically to a variety of different stimuli,” including “non-preferred sex partners” and “non-preferred sexual activity like sexual aggression.” 

“I would stress that is [a] physical response, not [a] subjective or emotional response,” Suschinsky said.

When she continues her research, Suschinsky said she will continue to focus on women’s sexual desire. In an interview with the Queen’s Gazette, Suschinsky said, “[w]e know women who have higher desire tend to engage in sex for different reasons than other women. We want to uncover why.” 

Elevating women working in science is one of the major goals for the L’Oreal-UNESCO fellowship. Israeli crystallographer Ada Yonath and Australian-American biologist Elizabeth Blackburn are just two examples of women who have been awarded the fellowship and later gone on to win Nobel Prizes in their fields. 

For Suschinsky, supporting women in science is crucial. 

“Providing women with strong role models for having research careers can encourage them to stay in research,” Suschinsky told The Journal. “There’s often a lot of women at the lower levels of study — there’s lots of undergrad[ate], some at the grad[uate] and post-doc level — but once you get to the senior levels, the professorships, the numbers in some fields tend to decrease.”

In order to apply for the award, Suschinksy had to communicate the purpose of her research, her budget and present two letters of recommendation. She described being awarded the L’Oreal-UNESCO fellowship as “an honour.” 

“It’s incredibly inspiring to be funded and do research on female sexuality and health by an organization that values women in science and involves women in the scientific endeavour,” she said.

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