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Dr. Nicole Polen-Petit

Dr. Nicole Polen-Petit
Assistant Professor
National University
(916) 855-4303

Nicole Polen-Petit completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Whitworth University in 1999. From there, she went to the University of California at Davis and completed her M.S. in Child Development and Ph.D. in Human Development in 2006. During her doctoral studies, she primarily studied the development of sexual identity in self-identified bisexual women utilizing qualitative methodology.

After completing her doctoral work, Dr. Polen-Petit spent time as a Developmental Psychologist and Clinical Trainer for River Oak Center for Children, a non-profit mental health organization serving children and families. There she consulted on clinical cases in regards to developmental issues and she provided leadership to the clinical training program offered through the agency. In addition, Dr. Polen-Petit remained at UC Davis as an adjunct faculty member in the department of Human Ecology where she has continuously taught Human Sexuality to 500+ students. Nicole has been the recipient of the department’s Instructor of the Year Award (2008 & 2010).

Dr. Polen-Petit is currently an assistant professor at National University in the department of psychology where she teaches a variety of courses to a diverse student body. Specific courses she teaches are PSY 429 (Introduction to Personality Theory), PSY 301 (Child Development), PSY 428 (Developmental Psychology) and PSY 480 (Senior Project). Her current scholarship interests center around sexual identity and orientation, sexual fluidity in women, and most recently, work in the areas of sexual coercion experienced by women in sororities. In 2008, she began the work of co-writing a Human Sexuality textbook, Human Sexuality: Self, Society and Culture, with anthropologist Dr. Gilbert Herdt, which was published by McGraw-Hill in 2014.

In “real life” Nicole lives near Sacramento, California with her husband, three daughters and their English Bulldog.

Selected Presentations

Polen-Petit, N.C., & Rapalyea, L. (2014). Sisterhood and safety: An examination of sororities and sexual violence. Oral Presentation. Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality National Conference: Omaha, Nebraska.

Polen-Petit, N.C. (2014). Teaching Human Sexuality Online: Keeping the Information Real in a Virtual Classroom. Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality National Conference: Omaha, Nebraska.

Herdt, G., & Polen-Petit, N.C. (2012). Teaching Innovative Sexual Literacy Research: How Students Become Critical Consumers of Sexuality. Oral Presentation. Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality National Conference: Tampa, FL.

Polen-Petit, N.C., & Herdt, G. (2012). Teaching Sexual Literacy: Moving Beyond Traditional Methods. Workshop Presentation. Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Regional Meeting: Los Angeles, CA.

Books/Book Chapters

Herdt, G., & Polen-Petit, N.C. (2014). Human Sexuality: Self, Society & Culture. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Polen-Petit, N.C. (2016). Internet, social media and sexual literacy: Help or hindrance for LGBTQ youth? In Villarruel, F.A., & Kiuchi, Y. (Eds.). Youth Popular Culture and Its Influence on Communities. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers.

Book Reviews

McMartin, J. (Forthcoming 2016). Personality Psychology: A Student-Centered Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Professional Memberships

Psi Chi
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS)


Ph.D. Human Development
University of California, Davis