Montana State University

MSU nursing professor wins grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

December 17, 2009 -- From MSU News Service


Sandra Kuntz, an assistant professor in Montana State University's College of Nursing, has won a $350,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to look at exposure to methylmercury in women of childbearing age on Montana's Fort Peck Reservation. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.    High-Res Available

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Bozeman -- Sandra Kuntz, an assistant professor in Montana State University's College of Nursing, has won a $350,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to look at exposure to methylmercury in women of childbearing age on Montana's Fort Peck Reservation.

The project replicates studies done on the Flathead reservation. Kuntz is one of just 15 nurse educators from around the country this year to receive the three year Nurse Faculty Scholar award. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period began in September.

"The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will further develop the partnership between myself and community members to identify and reduce infant/child mortality and morbidity related to environmental toxins, including methylmercury," Kuntz said.

Kuntz's project will be a community-based participatory research project that will involve the Fort Peck community from beginning to end. Her community partners include Indian Health Service public health nurses and employees of the tribal environmental protection agency. The Fort Peck Reservation is home to both the Sioux and Assiniboine Tribal Nations. Approximately 6,000 tribal members live on the reservation in the northeast corner of Montana.

Kuntz said the partnership will study risk awareness, fish consumption patterns and actual exposure to methylmercury in childbearing-age women.

Elizabeth Nichols, professor emeritus in MSU's College of Nursing, and Suzanne Christopher, a professor in MSU's College of Health and Human Development and the project director/principal investigator for the Center for Native Health Partnerships at MSU, will serve as mentors.

"In addition to her community-based participatory research on the effects of environmental exposures on infant mortality and morbidity, Sandra Kuntz is interested in working within the community to recruit Native American men and women into undergraduate and graduate nursing education and research in order to more effectively reduce health disparities in the population," Christopher said.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Nurse Faculty Scholar award aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing.

The Foundation's Nurse Faculty Scholars program aims to curb the effects of the nursing shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in academic careers. The program provides junior faculty with salary and research support as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities. The program also aims to enhance the stature of the scholars' academic institutions.

To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two years and no more than five years.

The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. To learn more about the program, visit www.rwjfnursefacultyscholars.org.

Sandra Kuntz, (406) 243-2551 or skuntz@montana.edu