Beth Rink

Beth Rink

A Montana State University professor who conducts research with indigenous communities in Montana, Greenland and Finland has won a pair of awards to further her work.

Beth Rink won a five-year, $3.12 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.

Rink, an associate professor in the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development, said she hopes her research results in a positive impact on the sexual and reproductive health of American Indian youth in Fort Peck, as well as an increased connection to the youth’s traditional culture.

Rink’s study has four components:

n School-based curriculum designed to address individual factors that lead to sexual risk behaviors.

n A family-level curriculum tailored to increase communication between adult family members and youth about sexual and reproductive health topics.

n A community-level cultural mentoring component that pairs youth with adults and elders to help connect them with their cultures and traditions.

n And a systems-level component to adapt and coordinate tribal sexual and reproductive health services provided to youth.

Rink said the study builds on a collaborative research relationship between the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and MSU researchers that dates back to 2006. That work has focused on preventing sexually transmitted infections, HIV, hepatitis C and teen pregnancy among American Indians at Fort Peck.

Rink also has been named a Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar to help advance Arctic nations’ shared interest in building resilient communities and sustainable economies. Rink’s second award will allow her to conduct a comparative analysis of sexual and reproductive health, services and systems in two Arctic communities. The Fulbright Arctic Initiative is designed to enable scholars to help policymakers address critical challenges facing the Arctic and create opportunities for Arctic populations.

For her Fulbright research, Rink will work with researchers from the Thule Institute at the University of Oulu in Finland and members of the Sami community in Utsjoki, Finland, to examine sexual and reproductive health disparities of the Finnish Sami, an indigenous group in Northern Finland. She will then compare that information with similar data she has gathered in Greenland for more than a decade. Since 2007, Rink has conducted research in Greenland examining sexual and reproductive health among the Inuit.

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