Emily Rothman

Lab Director

Emily Rothman, Sc.D: Principal Investigator, Professor and Chair of Occupational Therapy, Sargent College


Sc.D. Harvard School of Public Health (’04)

M.S Harvard School of Public Health (’01)

B.A Wesleyan University (’94)

Emily F. Rothman, ScD, Biography

Dr. Emily F. Rothman is professor and chair of the Occupational Therapy Department, with a secondary appointment at the BU School of Public Health where she has been a faculty member since 2004. Dr. Rothman is a social epidemiologist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Wesleyan University and her doctorate in science from Harvard School of Public Health (’04). She began her professional career working in a domestic violence shelter, at a counseling program for men who perpetrated domestic violence, and volunteering for a sexual assault hotline in Vermont. Her public health research has focused on understanding the etiology of, and preventing, intimate partner and sexual violence, and has also involved research on firearm violence, human trafficking, and pornography. A through-line on these projects has been a focus on promoting health equity for marginalized populations, and in particular sexual and gender minority people, and Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC). In 2016, Dr. Rothman began a new line of research on autism, which takes a neurodiversity perspective and is conducted in partnership with autistic people. She has brought her scholarly interests together by developing interventions to prevent sexual and intimate partner violence for neurodiverse people. She has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers (as of May 2023). Her research has been published in journals including New England Journal of Medicine, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, JAMA Pediatrics, Journal of Adolescent Health, Prevention Science, Autism, OTJR, and AJOT.

Dr. Rothman has been a federally-funded principal investigator (PI) since 2009. She has been awarded more than $8M in external research funds, with grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), US Department of Defense (DoD), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Patient Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI), Organization for Autism Research (OAR), and others. Her TED talk “How porn changes the way teens think about sex” has garnered more than 3.2 million views, and her research on pornography was a focus of a 2018 article in The New York Times Magazine. She is an appointed member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Sexual and Domestic Violence, and served on the Massachusetts Task Force on Sexual Assault Climate Surveys. She is the author of the book “Pornography and Public Health” (Oxford University Press, 2021). She is frequently consulted by media. She has appeared on the “Today” show on NBC, and her research has been featured on NPR and by The New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Teen Vogue, and other media outlets.

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