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Karen Speaker, MS - Bio Sketch

Karen Speaker is a program assistant for the Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the Center for Rural Health at The University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) in Grand Forks.

In her position, Karen provides computer support as needed for the Center in both hardware and software in addition to setting up and ordering new computer systems. Karen also serves as the record information and software coordinator for the CRH. She assists with the analysis of various research projects, including the development and distribution of surveys utilizing both SAS and SPSS statistical programs. Karen also performs auditing of CRH funding, including grants, in addition to the purchasing of supplies and equipment and reallocation of expense funding as needed. Karen also provides administrative support for the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI) and the Traumatic Brain Injury Project. For the NIEJI project, Karen assists with conference planning and development, toolkit preparation, budgeting. recruitment and scheduling of focus groups, and the dissemination of information.

Karen has been employed at UND since 1977. Her past experience involved working at the Human Nutrition Research Laboratory for 27 years. She initially worked as a dietary technician before transferring to the bio-physics laboratory. During her work as a bio-physics technician, Karen was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the most sophisticated Whole-body Scintillation Counter in the United States. She also co-authored a paper on radon that was presented at the International Symposium on Radon and Radon Reduction Technology and a presentation on the effect of environmental radiation on copper-67. Karen then transferred to the psychology research laboratory and worked with the development and testing related to psychology research studies evaluating the effects of trace minerals and vitamins in humans and animals. Karen developed, documented, and analyzed multiple research procedures as well as conducted various psychological research testing and co-authored a presentation given at the North Dakota Academy of Science in 1996.

Karen received a master of science degree in education (general studies) from UND in 2009. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and served as treasurer and interim president from 2008-2009.


Established in 1980, the CRH is one of the nation’s most experienced rural health organizations. It has developed a full complement of programs to assist researchers, educators, policymakers, healthcare providers, and most important, rural residents to address changing rural environments by identifying and researching rural health issues, analyzing health policy, strengthening local capabilities, developing community-based alternatives, and advocating for rural concerns.