Faces of GIAR: Peteneinuo Rulu

May 05, 2022

$1,000 (Fall 2020)

Education level at the time of the grant: PhD student

Project Description:
The purpose of my study is to understand potential relationships among sociocultural and familial factors, reproductive and other related factors, and symptom experience at midlife. Despite extensive research on menopause in India, little is known about the personal meaning or perception of the menopausal transition as experienced by Naga women. Since menopausal symptoms are subjective and related to factors such as ethnicity and culture, my study examines menopause from a biocultural perspective. The holism of a biocultural perspective allows anthropologists to understand how biology, culture, and the environment shape the outcome of a particular phenomenon. Additionally, menopause-related changes in levels of estrogen often result in weight gain, which can be related to symptoms such as aches, pains, and hot flashes. 

In my study, the occurrence of hot flashes recorded by a Biolog monitor helps to assess whether women in the Naga community, who tend to have lower body mass indices, experience higher or lower frequencies of hot flashes. This is the first study to apply ambulatory Biolog monitors in northeast India. In this regard, the GIAR award from Sigma Xi greatly helped in starting and facilitating the collection of data necessary for my project.

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher? 
In my interviews with participants, women were keen to learn and hear more about the menopausal transition and the accompanying waves of symptoms that might bother them. As symptoms may vary individually, learning how different Naga women cope with such midlife experiences greatly shaped my own perceptions about menopause. For instance, it was interesting to understand that some women were delighted that their symptom experiences were not unusual but natural. This further reinforced to me the notion of how important biocultural perspectives are to understanding the menopausal phenomenon, which I hope to employ and build upon in my future work.

Where are you now? 
I am currently in the process of writing my dissertation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety