Rebecca Bolinski, PhD, MA

Population Science and Policy
Population Science and Policy

    About me

    Primary Responsibilities:

    I am primarily responsible for qualitative data collection and analysis, assisting in the development of research proposals, study coordination, and providing support for forthcoming grant submissions.


    As a lifelong resident of southern Illinois, I have had the privilege of witnessing the unique strengths and challenges that characterize our rural areas. This upbringing instilled in me a profound commitment to the people who call these communities home. Over the years, I have come to understand the vital importance of understanding and addressing the health and social issues that often affect those living in rural areas. 

    In January 2018, I joined PSP as a Graduate Research Assistant on an NIH/NIDA-funded, multi-stage cooperative study focused on understanding and addressing the harm reduction needs of people who use drugs across the lower 16 counties of Illinois, specifically as it relates to overdose and infectious disease transmission. During my tenure, I gained extensive experience in developing and implementing research protocols for fieldwork and data collection. Through this work, I completed my dissertation, which explored how the lived experiences of rural people who inject drugs interrupt accessibility of and engagement with needed services and the implementation of harm reduction strategies in the context of drug use.

    In my role as a postdoctoral fellow in the department, I plan to continue this work, collaborating on projects aimed at promoting the health and wellbeing of underserved populations across central and southern Illinois.



    Education & training

    Doctorate Degree
    PhD in Sociology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
    Graduate Degree
    Master of Arts in Sociology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
    Undergraduate Degree
    Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale


    Rains, A., York, M., Bolinski, RS., Ezell, J., Ouellet, LJ., Jenkins, WD., Pho, MT. (2022). Attitudes toward harm reduction and low-threshold healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic: Qualitative interviews with people who use drugs in rural southern Illinois. Harm Reduction Journal, 19(1):128. doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00710-9.

    Bolinski, RS., Walters, S., Salisbury-Afshar, E., Ouellet, LJ., Jenkins, WD., Almirol, E., Van Ham, B., Fletcher, S., Johnson, C., Schneider, JA., Ompad, DC, Pho, MT. (2022). The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Drug Use Behaviors, Fentanyl Exposure, and Harm Reduction Service Support among People Who Use Drugs in Rural Settings. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(4):2230.

    Jenkins, WD., Rose, J., Molina, Y., Lee, M., Bolinski, RS., Luckey, G., Van Ham, B. (2022). Cancer Screening among Rural People Who Use Drugs: Colliding Risks and Barriers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(8):4555.

    Jenkins, WD., Walters, S., Phillips, G., Green, K., Fenner, E., Bolinski, RS., Spenner, A., Luckey, G. (2022). Stigma, Mental Health, and Health care Use Among Rural Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals. Health Education & Behavior. doi:10.1177/10901981221120393

    Walters, SM., Bolinski, RS., Almirol, E., Grundy, S., Fletcher, S., Schneider J., Friedman, SR., Ouellet, LJ., Ompad, DC., Jenkins, WJ., & Pho, M. (2022). Structural and community changes during COVID-19 and their effects on overdose precursors among rural people who use drugs: a mixed methods analysis. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 17(24).

    Ezell, JM., Walters, S., Friedman, SR., Bolinski, R., Jenkins, WJ., Schneider, J., Link, B., & Pho, M. (2020). Stigmatize the use, not the user? Attitudes on opioid use, drug injection, treatment, and overdose prevention in rural communities. Social Science & Medicine.

    Jenkins, WJ., Bolinski, R., Bresett, J., Van Ham, B., Fletcher, S., Walters, S., Friedman, SR., Ezell, JM., Pho, M., Schneider, J., & Ouellet, L. (2020). COVID-19 During the Opioid Epidemic – Exacerbation of Stigma and Vulnerabilities. Journal of Rural Health.

    Bolinski, R., Ellis, K., Zahnd, W., Walters, S., McLuckie, C., Schneider, J., Rodriguez, C., Ezell, J., Friedman, S.R., Pho, M., & Jenkins, W.J. (2019). Social norms associated with nonmedical opioid use in rural communities: A Systematic review. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 9(6), 1224-1232.