By Angelica Cheyenne
Controversy has always been synonymous with sexual education; due to the varying opinion regarding its necessity. Leading the conversation and contributing to it greatly, is California State University, Dominguez Hills’ biology professor Dr. Thomas Landefeld.
As a biology professor at CSUDH, Dr. Landefeld has been instrumental in expanding sexual education for students by transforming how it is taught.
From a young age, Dr. Landefeld has been an independent thinker, trotting down his own road not adhering to social norms.
“I have always been a non-conformist,” said Dr. Landefeld. “[I’ve always been] a non-conventional person and a change agent, [even] all the way back in high school. I always preferred to lead not follow. ”
Dr. Landefeld has lived by that mantra his entire life. Growing up during the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Landefeld was always searching for ways to become actively involved in igniting change.
“I was very isolated from [the Civil Rights movement],” said Dr. Landefeld. “Living in a small Southeastern Ohio town with little if any diversity. I developed my advocacy for change, the more frustrated that I was not involved in that struggle more directly.”
After earning his B.S. in science from Marietta College, Dr. Landefeld began to chart his way for change.
“I was going to teach and coach in high school when I graduated,” said Dr. Landefeld, “But I decided to go to graduate school, specifically where they had a Ph.D. program in reproductive endocrinology.”
Dr. Landefeld’s enthusiasm for reproductive endocrinology stemmed from noticing that reproduction was always “glossed over” in biology class.
Once Dr. Landefeld earned his Ph.D. in reproductive endocrinology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he began conducting research on the control of the female reproductive system at the University of Michigan Medical School.
“Gradually I got more interested in the social and behavioral aspects of sex,” said Dr. Landefeld. “Since really that was why we were studying the biology of the process.”
As a research scientist, Dr. Landefeld wanted to educate the masses on the misperceptions regarding sex.
“With the passing of time and many experiences it made sense to share knowledge,” said Dr. Landefeld. “I wrote books on my passions, my second book Sex: Understanding what you know, what you want to know and what you have never thought about, addresses the lack of knowledge about sex in our country.”
Dr. Landefeld also advocates for equal representation.
“[My book] Mentoring and Diversity: tips for students and professionals developing and maintaining a diverse scientific community addresses the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities.”
As a professor, he plans to transform the views on sex beginning with an open dialogue.
“As an educator and change agent, my goals is to advocate for an openness about sex education,” said Dr. Landefeld. “Whether it be through teaching, and just more open conversations in many settings.”