Our Mission

The mission of The Methodology Center is to advance public health by improving experimental design and data analysis in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. 

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Susan Murphy, 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Susan Murphy 2013 MacArthur Fellow


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Recent News

Aleksandra SlavkovicEvery year, The Methodology Center offers three, one-credit courses in research methodology for Penn State graduate students. We have a late addition to this year’s schedule. Aleksandra Slavkovic, associate professor of statistics, will teach STAT 597B, “Data Privacy Methods for the Social and Behavioral Sciences.” This course will provide an overview of the data privacy problem and statistical and computational techniques needed to understand the risks and benefits inherit in data sharing. 
 
Register for STAT 597B on the Registrar’s website
  

July 23, 2014

Linda Collins TEDx Talk on Behavioral Interventions

Behaviors such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, and risky sex lead to illnesses that cost millions of lives and billions of dollars worldwide every year. Interventions designed to reduce these behaviors have tremendous potential to reduce morbidity and mortality and improve public health, but currently they are not reaching their full potential.

 
Methodology Center Director Linda Collins believes we can do better. In an eleven-minute talk at TEDxPSU in March, “Reducing smoking deaths: Is it rocket science?” Linda proposes using engineering methods to build more potent, efficient, and scalable behavioral interventions. She illustrates how this can be done by comparing our national effort to reduce smoking to our national effort to put a person on the moon. Though the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), an engineering-inspired approach to development, optimization, and evaluation of behavioral interventions developed by Dr. Collins and other Center scientists, is not explicitly discussed, the talk lays out its rationale.
 

June 2, 2014

David Conroy

In our latest podcast, host Aaron Wagner interviews David Conroy, professor of kinesiology and human development and family studies at Penn State, and investigator at The Methodology Center. The discussion focuses on David’s research on physical activity and sedentary behavior, how physical activity impacts our lives, and the technological opportunities and methodological challenges of this research. David’s multiple, fascinating projects with other Methodology Center investigators are also discussed.

Download Podcast 18

May 22, 2014

Stephanie LanzaMegan PiperSaul ShiffmanA recently published special issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research explores the use of ecological momentary assessments (EMA) in smoking research. The issue, “New Methods for Advancing Research on Tobacco Dependence Using Ecological Momentary Assessments,” was edited by Stephanie Lanza, scientific director of The Methodology Center, Megan Piper, assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin department of  medicine and lead researcher at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, and Saul Shiffman, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

In their editorial, Elizabeth Ginexi, William Riley, Audie Atienza, and Patricia L. Mabry of the National Institutes of Health discuss the promise that these methods hold for behavioral health research outside of smoking research. The specific methods featured in the issue include time-varying effect models (TVEMs), multilevel models and their extension to predict intra-individual variability, and dynamical systems models. The special issue also includes studies that rely on data integration, specifically to integrate functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI) data and global positioning system (GPS) data with EMA. If you work with or want to learn more about EMA data, this issue has something to offer.

 

The issue was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The article was generated due to the strong response to a preconference workshop at the 2012 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Annual Meeting. Presentations from the workshop can be found on The Methodology Center website.  A link to the table of contents of the special issue can be found below. 

 

Open the special issue.


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