The Institute for Wellness- and Exercise-related Research in Queer Populations (I-WERQ) was founded by Dr. Zachary Yukio Kerr and Jake C. Diana in Summer 2023.
I-WERQ’s vision is for inclusive, intentional, empathetic, and compassionate research focused on queer identities. This includes consideration of identities marginalized within the overarching heteronormative and cisgender culture, as well as within queer-based communities due to biases and discrimination against the non-binary, people of color, and disabled. This also includes anyone who feels that they feel that they do not fit or belong in what are the perceived stereotypes of what encompasses a college student interested in health, wellness, fitness, and/or nutrition.
Our scope aims to fill in numerous gaps related to queer health that exist within EXSS-related research. We hope I-WERQ can help facilitate research opportunities across all experience levels (from undergraduate students to tenured faculty) while ensuring queer voices and their interests in queer physical activity research can be supported. This includes the following content areas and structures:
- EXSS topics (e.g., physical activity, sedentary behavior, nutrition) from a queer perspective (research “by us, for us” but also inclusive of allies with vested interests)
- EXSS topics unique to queer populations (e.g., as related to body image/body neutrality, access to healthcare when injured, perceived safety when engaged in physical activity)
- A platform for queer students to engage in queer health topics in which they are interested via independent study options (e.g. EXSS 395)
- Study methodologies ranging from large-data epidemiological studies to multi-/mixed-method studies, to qualitative interview and ethnographic studies
- Consideration of the socio-ecological framework and the multiple factors that play a role in a queer individual’s behaviors, attitudes, perceived norms, knowledge, self-efficacy, and perceptions of power and lack thereof.