What is the purpose of the PAMT program?
The prevention field has a pressing need for two types of well-trained scientists: prevention scientists and methodologists. Prevention scientists are needed who can apply the most appropriate methodology in their research, even when the methodology is advanced and cutting-edge. Methodologists are needed who understand and are committed to prevention, have experience “in the trenches” of prevention field work, and work to improve and disseminate methodology for use in prevention research.
The PAMT program was established to train researchers in the development and application of cutting-edge research methods in the design and evaluation of substance abuse and related prevention programs for children, youth, families, and communities.
A goal of the PAMT program is to combine two existing “research cultures”—preventionists and methodologists––in a fluid community of preventionists who are comfortable with cutting-edge methods and of methodologists who consider themselves prevention scientists.
These linkages, combined with the strengths of the two Centers in substance abuse etiology, methods, statistics, evaluation, and program development and testing, provide a high-quality training environment for the development of future leaders of multidisciplinary research teams.
Who might be interested in a PAMT fellowship?
PAMT is designed for new researchers who are interested in launching a successful academic or research career by developing a research program with an integrated dual focus on prevention research and quantitative methods.
Who directs PAMT?
PAMT is a joint endeavor of two research centers at Penn State: the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center. The training grant is directed by Drs. Mark Greenberg (PI) and Edward Smith from the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and Drs. Linda M. Collins and Donna Coffman from the Methodology Center.
What disciplines are represented in the two centers?
The Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center includes researchers with PhDs in developmental psychology, biobehavioral health, human development and family studies, kinesiology, sociology, clinical psychology, education policy, and family and child ecology.
The Methodology Center includes researchers with PhDs in human development and family studies, statistics, quantitative psychology, biostatistics, epidemiology, communication arts and sciences, computer science, and electrical engineering.
Both centers are open to researchers from other disciplines.
How are PAMT fellowships funded?
PAMT is funded by a training grant (T32 DA017629) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for developing the careers of promising junior researchers.
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Is a PAMT Postdoc for me?
Who is eligible for a PAMT postdoctoral fellowship?
To be eligible an individual must have completed all requirements for the PhD at the time the fellowship is to start. Trainees must be citizens or noncitizen nationals of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residency at the time of appointment.
What if I do not have a background in prevention?
The backgrounds of incoming PAMT postdocs vary widely. What you have done to date matters less than what you plan to do in the future. In other words, if you are committed to establishing a career focusing on research that integrates prevention science and quantitative methods, you may be a good candidate even if you have no previous background in prevention.
What if I do not have a background in methodology?
We have found that some prior background and demonstrated interest in methodology is necessary for trainees to be successful in the PAMT postdoctoral fellows program. Most successful applicants have, at a minimum, taken several methodology electives during their graduate training.
My training has been primarily in statistics/biostatistics. Is a PAMT postdoc a possibility for me?
PAMT could be a great postdoctoral experience for you. A career that focuses on the integration of methodological research and prevention research would be a shift in emphasis for you. It will require you to learn about prevention, and about behavioral science more generally. If you are interested in making this shift, a PAMT fellowship can help you to do it effectively and enjoyably.
My methodological background is a bit weak and I want to improve it so that I can be more effective conducting research. Is a PAMT postdoc for me?
We are looking for trainees who wish to establish a line of research that has both a prevention and a methodology focus. Although some of our trainees may need to improve their methodological background in certain areas to accomplish this, remedial education in methodology per se is not a goal of the PAMT program. Thus, PAMT is probably not for you.
What if I am not a permanent resident of the United States?
Feel free to contact the faculty you would like to work with directly, and inquire about whether they have any entry-level positions funded by sources other than the PAMT program.
What if you do not currently have any openings?
We have three postdoctoral slots, so sometimes we have no openings. We encourage you to contact the faculty you would like to work with directly, and inquire about whether they have any entry-level positions funded by sources other than the PAMT program.
I still have a few years left in graduate school but want to start thinking about postdocs. Is there someone from PAMT to whom I can direct questions?
We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Direct your questions to Dr. Donna Coffman at
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When is PAMT open to graduate students?
Graduate students typically apply for PAMT fellowships during their second or third year of doctoral studies.
How do I get more information about PAMT?
Because graduate students are already here at Penn State, this website is not meant to be their primary source of information about PAMT. Interested grad students are encouraged to speak to any of the faculty affiliated with the program or to contact Dr. Donna Coffman at
with any questions they may have.
If you are ready to apply, please visit the PAMT Applicants page.
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What does a PAMT postdoc offer?
What are some of the highlights of the PAMT postdoctoral program?
- Each PAMT postdoc has two mentors: one in prevention and one in methodology.
- Well-established senior investigators are available for mentoring.
- Trainees are immediately involved in ongoing projects with opportunities to publish.
- Trainees are encouraged to develop their own lines of research, are mentored on how to do so, and have protected time to make progress.
- Trainees are encouraged to write a grant proposal; training and mentoring in this area are provided.
- Penn State is the location of many exciting research projects in both prevention and methodology.
- Both the Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center are interdisciplinary environments with substantial NIH funding.
- There are special professional development activities for postdocs, including a grant proposal writing “boot camp” in the Spring semester.
What else does the PAMT program offer for postdocs?
The PAMT program offers many opportunities for collaboration and training. Postdocs participate in several regular groups and meetings to encourage their professional growth and the free exchange of ideas. Groups that postdocs join include
Early on, PAMT postdocs establish a research plan, and they have regular meetings with mentors to discuss progress and solicit advice.
- bi-weekly PAMT meetings to discuss research progress
- bi-weekly professional development meetings to plan for the launch of an independent research career
- monthly Methodology Center goal setting meetings to learn about and track progress of methodological research
- Methodology Center brown bags and Prevention Research Center seminars to learn about and explore other research in the field
PAMT postdocs also attend the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Annual Meetings to present, learn, and network.
What can I expect to accomplish as a PAMT postdoctoral fellow?
Postdoctoral fellows submit several articles to high-level peer-reviewed journals, write a grant proposal and submit it before the end of the postdoc, and present at professional conferences. Mentoring is provided in all of these areas so that trainees are positioned for success in the next phase of their planned careers.
What is the arrangement for mentorship of PAMT postdoctoral fellows?
Each PAMT postdoc has a methodology mentor and a prevention mentor. Prospective postdocs identify potential mentors—at least one from methodology and one from prevention—before applying to the program. Consult the list of available mentors for the mentors' research interests, links to their web sites, and contact information. Applicants who are invited to visit Penn State will have the opportunity to meet with prospective mentors at that time. Upon acceptance to the program, the two mentors, the postdoc, and Dr. Ed Smith work together to map out a program of professional development for the trainee, and thereafter discuss progress at regularly scheduled meetings.
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Postdoctoral Application Process
Where can I find instructions for applying for a PAMT fellowship?
Instructions can be found on the PAMT applicants page. Questions are welcome and can be addressed either to prospective mentors or to Dr. Donna Coffman at
What is the application process for PAMT postdoctoral fellows?
You are encouraged to contact prospective mentors before applying to verify that they are taking on additional trainees and to discuss your application. Be sure to allow sufficient time as you prepare the application; it can take several weeks to arrange mentorships. See the list of mentors for information about faculty participating in the program. Application instructions can be found on the PAMT Applicants page.
Applications are reviewed periodically; see the PAMT home page for the next review dates. After you have applied, you may be invited to Penn State to present your research and meet the faculty and current trainees.
What if there is a faculty member at Penn State who I want to work with, but he/she is not on the lists of mentors?
Mentors must be selected from the methodology and prevention mentors lists. With the consent of your mentors, you may embark on a project with one of the other faculty involved with the PAMT training program. View the associated faculty list.
When do you accept applications for PAMT postdoctoral fellowships?
Please see the PAMT home page for upcoming application review dates.
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Postdoctoral Fellowship Details
How long is a PAMT postdoctoral fellowship?
PAMT postdocs are usually two years long. The second year is contingent upon a successful first year.
How much is the stipend?
Stipends are fixed by NIH. View the NIH training funding page.
Does a PAMT postdoctoral fellowship provide health insurance?
Postdocs are eligible to participate in Penn State’s healthcare, dental and vision, and age-graded life insurance programs. Further benefits information is available at http://www.gradsch.psu.edu/postdocaffairs/benefits.html.
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