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ILD News

Megan Patrick, Ph.D.

March 12, 2015

Congratulations to Methodology Center Affiliate Megan Patrick and the team of researchers from Penn State’s Methodology Center and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, who were awarded an R01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for their project, “Dynamic Links Between Risk Factors, Substance Use, and Consequences: Ages 18-35." The investigators will use innovative methods developed at The Methodology Center to examine long-term panel data from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which has been gathering data from a large, national sample of adolescents since 1975.

March 8, 2015

Melissa Boone, Ph.D.Unprotected sexual intercourse among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) puts them at risk for sexually transmitted infections and their partners at risk for HIV. Therefore, it is important to understand factors that lead to sexual risk among HIV-positive MSM. A recent article examined how changes over time in a person’s sense of well-being can influence their sexual risk behavior. The article, “Fluctuations in Depression and Well-Being Are Associated With Sexual Risk Episodes Among HIV-Positive Men,” was authored by Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) postdoctoral fellow Melissa Boone and a research group at Columbia University. In it, the authors analyzed intensive longitudinal data collected from 106 sexually active, HIV-positive MSM.

February 3, 2015

Stephanie Lanza and Sara VasilenkoWe are pleased to announce that Stephanie Lanza and Sara Vasilenko will present this year’s Summer Institute on Innovative Methods, “An Introduction to Time-Varying Effect Modeling.” Sponsored by The Pennsylvania State University’s Methodology Center and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the 20th Summer Institute will provide the theoretical background and applied skills necessary to identify and address interesting, new research questions using time-varying effect modeling (TVEM). Stephanie and Sara will introduce applications of these models to examine time-varying effects using intensive longitudinal data such as ecological momentary assessments, as well as age-varying effects using cross-sectional and panel data. By the end of the workshop, participants will have fit several time-varying effect models in SAS and will have had the opportunity to fit preliminary models to their own data.


The Summer Institute will be held on June 11 – 12, 2015 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland.


Read more and register 

December 18, 2014

Runze LiCongratulations to Runze Li who was recently named the Verne M. Willaman Professor of Statistics at Penn State! Runze is an influential and productive researcher, a great mentor, a supportive and helpful colleague, and a delightful person. We are proud and honored to have him as part of our Center. His recent work has focused on time-varying effect models (TVEMs) and the analysis of high-dimensional data. His work on TVEM is helping answer new questions about relationships over time. His work on high-dimensional data is laying the groundwork for incorporating genetic data into behavioral research.

Read more about TVEM

Read more about high-dimensional data analysis

December 3, 2014

Rebecca Evans-PolceIn the United States, rates of substance use peak during adolescence and young adulthood. Previous literature has demonstrated that rates differ by race, ethnicity, and gender. Despite knowledge of these disparities, until now researchers have been unable to understand the extent to which these disparities change across adolescence and young adulthood. In the forthcoming article, “Changes in gender and racial/ethnic disparities in rates of cigarette use, regular heavy episodic drinking, and marijuana use: Ages 14 to 32,” to appear in Addictive Behaviors, Methodology Center researchers Rebecca Evans-Polce, Sara Vasilenko, and Stephanie Lanza use the time-varying effect model (TVEM) to examine the dynamic nature of substance use rates among different groups of adolescents and young adults.


December 1, 2014

Runze LiCongratulations to Runze Li for being named a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters. This means that Runze is in the top one percent of most cited researchers in his field. Runze’s research focuses on the analysis of intensive longitudinal data (ILD) and high-dimensional data. During his 12 years as an investigator at The Methodology Center, Runze has been a pioneer not only in developing statistical methods but also in disseminating those methods to behavioral researchers. He led the development of the TVEM macro suite and the FHLM-LLR macro for analyzing ILD and PROC SCADLS & PROC SCADGLIM for selecting variables in high-dimensional data. Runze’s work is becoming even more relevant with the increasing availability of high-dimensional data, such as genetic data and ILD, such as data from smartphone studies. We look forward to many more years of collaborating with Runze.


Read about Runze’s research on analyzing ILD

November 3, 2014

output graphWe are pleased to release the latest version of the TVEM (time-varying effect model) SAS macro suite (v. 2.1.1). The macros in this suite estimate the coefficient functions in TVEMs for intensive longitudinal data (longitudinal data such as ecological momentary assessments, EMA, that are characterized by more frequent measurements than traditional panel data). 
Traditional analytic methods assume that covariates have constant effects on a time-varying outcome. The TVEM SAS macros allow the effects of covariates to vary with time. These macros enable researchers to answer new research questions about how relationships change over time. The newest version of the software includes some minor usability improvements.


Download the macro suite.

Not familiar with SAS macros? View our 4-minute video on how to run a macro.

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 (

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