ILD News | The Methodology Center

ILD News

August 27, 2014

researchers Kari and AngieEach year, we hold regular meetings of special interest groups open to all researchers and graduate students working with and developing cutting edge research methods. The groups provide a forum for individuals to discuss their own research and to learn from others. Topics include analyzing complex data, mixture modeling, optimizing behavioral interventions, and causal analysis. 


The schedule for this fall and contact information is now available. For specific dates, please see The Methodology Center’s calendar.


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.

Stephanie LanzaFebruary 26, 2014

We are pleased to announce this spring’s Taste of Methodology workshop: The time-varying effect model (TVEM) for analyzing intensive longitudinal data. Taste of Methodology is a series of brief workshops for Penn State faculty that offers an overview of innovative methods along with lunch. This semester’s workshop will present the concepts and applications of TVEM in order to give faculty an efficient way to assess TVEM’s potential for their research. 



A Taste of Methodology: The time-varying effect model (TVEM) for analyzing intensive longitudinal data

PRESENTER: Stephanie Lanza, Scientific Director of The Methodology Center

WHEN: Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 10:30 am - 1:30 pm

WHERE: Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building


A Taste of Methodology is co-sponsored by the Social Science Research Institute and the Methodology Center, and is part of SSRI's Innovative Methods Initiative. The workshop is FREE and open to all Ph.D.-level scientists at Penn State. Registration is required and places are limited. To register, email Tammy Knepp (

New Grant Uses TVEM to Understand Opioid WithdrawalOctober 1, 2013

Part of the danger of opioids like oxycodone, morphine, and heroin stems from their highly addictive nature. In a new project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methodology Center Investigator Stephanie Lanza will collaborate with colleague Hobart Cleveland and Principal Investigators Roger Meyer and Scott Bunce’s team from Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to improve treatment outcomes for patients recovering from opioid dependence. By following patients for seven months, researchers will track changes in the patients’ brain reward systems from initial detoxification through residential care and a follow-up period. The researchers will use time-varying effect models to better understand changes in mood, stress level, craving, and sleep. By studying these processes through initial recovery from dependence, researchers will learn how chemical balances in the brain return to levels typically found in people who are not dependent on opioids.

Open the NIH Reporter page for this project

Linda Collins, Stephanie Lanza, Donna Coffman, Bethany Bray, Kari Kugler, and Anne Fairlie

Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Annual Meeting

San Francisco, CA, May 28-31, 2013


The Methodology Center will be active at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR).  At this year's conference, The Science of Prevention: Building a Comprehensive National Strategy for Well-Being, we will be presenting symposiums, a special interest group, paper talks, and multiple posters. Also look for us at the ECPN symposiums. We hope to see you there!

David ConroyFebruary 22, 2013

Methodology Center Collaborative Research Funding has been awarded to David Conroy, Professor of Kinesiology and Human Development & Family Studies at Penn State. He will work with Nilam Ram and Methodology Center Investigators Runze Li, Stephanie Lanza, and Linda Collins to design an intervention that encourages physical activity among heavy drinkers in order to reduce alcohol consumption.  Researchers believe that some forms of physical activity can reduce alcohol intake by enhancing enjoyment, improving mood, occupying time, and reducing reactions to stress. This project will address several unanswered questions about the relationship between physical activity and alcohol consumption and will use cutting-edge intervention-design methods to build an effective and efficient intervention.

Runze LiJanuary 3, 2013

Congratulations to Runze Li who was recently named a distinguished professor of statistics at Penn State! The University is recognizing Runze for his research leadership and for "raising the standards of the University with respect to teaching, research, and service." His work on time-varying effect models (TVEM) is helping smoking researchers (and other researchers who collect data using cell phones or the Internet) to answer new questions. The Center offers a free SAS macro to enable applied researchers to use TVEMs. 
Read more about TVEM

OctoHIV ribbonber 2, 2012

Congratulations to Methodology Center researchers Stephanie Lanza, Runze Li, and Jingyun (Michael) Yang who have been awarded a supplement to the Women’s Interagency Health Study (WIHS) by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).


Because treatment of HIV has become more successful, researchers are examining factors that impact the quality and span of life for individuals living with HIV. This project, “Joint Modeling of the Effects of Substance Use on Changes in CD4 and Survival Time of Women,” will combine models for survival data and time-varying effect models to examine how alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use impacts the health and survival of women with HIV.


Read about time-varying effect models

Megan Piper, Lisa Dierker, and Stephanie LanzaAugust 28, 2012

Host Aaron Wagner interviews three researchers, Megan Piper of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, Lisa Dierker of Wesleyan University, and Stephanie Lanza of the Methodology Center. They discuss time-varying effect models, the potential for ecological momentary assessment data to advance smoking research, and an upcoming the special issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research that will focus on new methods for smoking research.

Graph of declining cigarette smoking

August 27, 2012

We would like to congratulate Stephanie Lanza, Runze Li, and Jingyun (Michael) Yang of The Methodology Center and Megan Piper of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, who were recently awarded an R01 from the National Cancer Institute. The project, Advancing Tobacco Research by Integrating Systems Science and Mixture Models, will integrate time-varying effect models and latent class analysis in order to identify subgroups of smokers who experience the process of nicotine withdrawal differently. This research will facilitate the development of time-varying interventions to meet the needs of individual smokers.

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