The University of New Brunswick’s Sandra Byers is an internationally renowned expert on human sexuality, sexual health and intimate partner relationships. Her research has influenced public policy and her work as a practicing clinical psychologist has changed people’s lives.
She has also received numerous awards, accolades and acclamations, both internationally and here at home. Last November, she was honoured with the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, given by the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality. This award recognizes professionals who have made outstanding contributions to sexology research, education, or therapy.
“Dr. Byers has earned the respect of her many colleagues in academia, not only as an outstanding researcher, but also as a mentor to her students and others in the field of sexuality,” said Konstance McCaffree, president of the Society of the Scientific Study of Sexuality. “The society is proud to award her the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award.”
Sexuality and sexual health are not widely discussed by individuals despite the fact that they are an important part of many people’s lives. Dr. Byers’ research has practical implications for the day-to-day lives of individuals, for the work of sex therapists, and for sex education in schools.
“Most of my research has tried to provide answers to questions that are important to people,” said Dr. Byers. “Questions such as: What are the things that contribute to sexual satisfaction in relationships? How prevalent are experiences of sexual violence? What factors affect whether parents talk to their children about sexuality? A number of our findings have been discussed in the popular media, because they are relevant to most people’s lives.” Dr. Byers says that being given this award is an acknowledgement that her colleagues in the field value the work that she has done.
“It’s particularly wonderful to get this award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality because the society includes many outstanding researchers whose opinions I value greatly,” said Dr. Byers.
But she admits that she couldn’t do the work that she has done, and is currently doing, without the knowledge and hard work of colleagues and graduate students.
“There is so much still to learn about human sexuality, and it has been wonderful to be able to contribute to knowledge in the area,” she said. “I have been fortunate to work with a large number of fabulous graduate students who have advanced my thinking in any number of areas. Most of my research has been a true collaboration with them.”
Dr. Byers came to UNB in 1978 after receiving her PhD in clinical psychology from West Virginia University. One of her major initiatives at UNB was spearheading the creation of Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research.
In addition to her research and her work as a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Byers is the chair of the psychology department at UNB Fredericton and a professor. She teaches an undergraduate course in human sexuality and a graduate seminar on the assessment and treatment of sexual problems.
“Dr. Byers is a prolific and ground-breaking researcher whose work has had a tangible impact at the local and global level,” said James Murray, dean of the faculty of arts at UNB Fredericton. “Her dedication to training and mentoring students is outstanding. Additionally, she is a highly capable administrator who has demonstrated great leadership in her field and within the university.”
Natalie Montgomery, Communication Officer (506) 453-4990