Postdoctoral Success Stories

Monica Skewes, PhD

RIA Postdoctoral Associate 2006-2009

Current position

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology
Project Leader, Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity
Montana State University

Academic Profile

After finishing RIA’s postdoctoral program, Dr. Skewes was a faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a joint appointment in psychology and the Center for Alaska Native Health Research. While in Alaska, she learned about American Indian and Alaska Native history, cultures, traditions and health disparities. She then was recruited to join the faculty at Montana State University to study rural health disparities affecting American Indian populations in Montana. Dr. Skewes’ research focuses on developing innovative ways to capitalize on community and cultural strengths to address disparities related to substance abuse and mental health problems.


“My time at RIA was invaluable to my career. I was quite inexperienced when I first graduated with my PhD, but did not yet know how inexperienced I was—particularly regarding the world of grant writing and the logistics of carrying out complicated studies in the real world.

My training at RIA under the mentorship of Dr. Kurt Dermen and Dr. Gerard Conners was incredibly useful at furthering my education on both fronts. There’s no better way to learn something than to do it! My mentors, in addition to other informal mentors including Dr. Ronda Dearing, Dr. Kathy Parks, and several others, really helped give me the confidence to try submitting grants and to study new topics in new ways. They also helped me learn to cope with the inevitable rejection that accompanies a career in science, teaching me how to respond to negative reviews and resubmit, resubmit, resubmit!

My understanding of the NIH grant process grew exponentially during my time at RIA, and my scientific writing skills improved significantly. I also gained a solid understanding and fluency in a wide range of topics related to addiction and alcohol, which has served me well in my career. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to RIA and am forever grateful for the training and the friendships I made in Buffalo.”