Doctoral student Stacey Griner awarded Doug Kirby Adolescent Sexual Health Grant

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USF College of Public Health doctoral student Stacey Griner has received a $1,000 grant to support her dissertation research efforts.

The endowed Doug Kirby Adolescent Sexual Health Research Grant from the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP), Indiana University School of Public Health – Bloomington is provided to support doctoral student research.

Griner, who is currently working toward her PhD in community and family health, said she plans to use it to expand upon her current dissertation work related to the sexual health of adolescents and young adults.

Doctoral student Stacey Griner, MPH. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

“It is truly an honor to receive this award,” she said. “Dr. Douglas Kirby was a leader in the field, and I hope to contribute to public health and sexuality research in the way he did.”

Griner’s dissertation focuses on the factors influencing the use of self-collected samples as a method of sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening among college women.

“Enabling college women to screen themselves at home could reduce barriers and promote sexual and reproductive health among this population, who are disproportionally burdened by STIs,” Griner said. “The award provides funding for me to conduct interviews with college women and understand their needs and perspectives.”

The RCAP established the grant to honor Dr. Douglas Kirby, an internationally renowned authority on adolescent sexual health through his research on the impact of school and community-based programs designed to reduce sexual risk behavior among youth.

Griner said the grant was something she’s always had her eye on, but had to wait until she was in her dissertation phase of her coursework, so she had the reminder set on her calendar.

“I applied because Dr. Douglas Kirby’s work on the effectiveness of programs to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections has influenced my own research a great deal,” Griner said.

Griner’s public health passion of focusing on the “bigger picture” of sexual health and looking at the social determinants, in addition to individual factors, has been apparent throughout her academic career research endeavors.

She’s previously researched school- and college-based approaches to sexual health, stakeholder support for sexuality education in schools, college-level factors impacting the use of condoms, and violence experienced among gender minority college students–just to name a few.

Now, she’s focusing her research on risky sexual behaviors and the associated reproductive health outcomes among college students.

“Currently, my dissertation work examines the influence of social norms and environmental factors on the use of self-collected sampling methods for STI screening, and I am also interested in the college setting and campus culture as potential factors that influence health,” she said.

Griner, who earned her MPH from the University of Florida in 2014 and who also holds a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies from USF, is set to graduate in May 2019.

She said she aspires to become a leader in sexually transmitted infection prevention, conducting research at a large, student-focused university, and utilizing community-based approaches to address disparities in sexual health.

“It is truly an honor to receive this award,” she said.

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health