News Archive | The Methodology Center

News Archive

November 10, 2014

Donna CoffmanPrevious literature has established that gang membership is associated with higher rates of drug use. In the forthcoming article, “Gang membership and substance use: Guilt as a gendered causal pathway,” in The Journal of Experimental Criminology, Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman and two other researchers examine whether anticipated guilt for substance use explains this association. The authors also expand the available set of methods for causal inference when assessing mediation in the presence of moderation and time-varying confounding.  

November 4, 2014

Susan MurphyIn our latest podcast, Amanda Applegate interviews Susan Murphy, Methodology Center principal investigator, Herbert E. Robbins Distinguished University Professor of Statistics, research professor at the Institute for Social Research, and professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. The discussion focuses two topics, the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART), which allows scientists to develop adaptive interventions, and the just-in-time, adaptive intervention (JITAI), which uses real-time data to deliver interventions as needed via mobile devices. Susan’s MacArthur Fellowship is also discussed; the podcast was recorded before she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.


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.

October 21, 2014

Susan MurphyWe are delighted to announce that Methodology Center Principal Investigator Susan A. Murphy has been named a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. Susan’s record of innovation, particularly her development of the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART), has earned her many recent accolades, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 2013.


IOM is an independent, nonprofit organization. Members of the Institute seek to provide the best available evidence on matters related to health to inform decision making on medical matters by the government and public. Being named to the Institute of Medicine is a huge honor for any scientist working on public health issues. In 2011, The New York Times said, “The Institute of Medicine is the nation’s most esteemed and authoritative adviser on issues of health and medicine, and its reports can transform medical thinking around the world.”

October 20, 2014

MD2K Center for Excellence logoFour Methodology Center affiliated scientists, Susan Murphy, Inbal Nahum-Shani, David Conroy, and Bonnie Spring, are part of a new research center, the MD2K Center for Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge. MD2K’s mission is to develop tools and methods to gather and analyze data from mobile devices in order to facilitate the early detection and prevention of health problems. The new center is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) new Big Data to Knowledge initiative, which is also supporting Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman’s career development award


October 9, 2014

Donna CoffmanCongratulations to Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman, who received a K01 Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health Big Data to Knowledge initiative! The award will fund 100% of Donna’s training and independent research for the next three years. Donna’s work will focus on the analysis of big data to promote healthy behavior related to physical activity, diet, stress management, and substance use.
K awards include a training component, and Donna will study methods from computer science and informatics in order to manage and analyze big data. She will study statistical methods for the integration and analysis of big data, including genomics data, ecological momentary assessments, and data from wearable devices.


September 26, 2014

Mark Stemmler

Mark Stemmler, professor of psychological assessment at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, has written a new book, Person centered methods: Configural frequency analysis (CFA) and other methods for the analysis of contingency tables. 


Mark is a long-time friend of The Methodology Center, and last month, he visited us from Germany to teach one of our one-credit graduate courses. While he was here, Mark sat down with the Methodology Center’s science writer, Aaron Wagner, to briefly chat about Mark’s new book and the value of CFA.


September 25, 2014
classroom with kids and teacherHead Start is the largest federally funded preschool program for disadvantaged children. Some people have questioned its worth because research has shown relatively small impacts on cognitive and social skills. In a forthcoming article in Child Development, Methodology Center Affiliate Brittany Rhoades Cooper and Methodology Center Scientific Director Stephanie Lanza perform latent class analysis (LCA) on the Head Start Impact Study dataset to identify subgroups of children who have similar home environments and caregivers.


The authors then examine cognitive, behavioral, and relationship skills measured two years later to determine whether the effects of Head Start vary across these subgroups. Their approach could have broad application by researchers interested in using latent class analysis to understand differential effects of an intervention by simultaneously considering multiple potential moderators. 


September 24, 2014

Rachel SmithWhen diagnosing genetic disorders like Alpha-1, physicians use genetic tests. Communication about the results of those tests may influence the overall well-being of the person who has been diagnosed, his or her spouse, and the couple. Methodology Center Investigator Rachel Smith and a team of Penn State researchers including Methodology Center Principal Investigator Donna Coffman are investigating this type of spousal communication with the goal of designing targeted messages to support married adults managing genetic test results, associated genetic-based illness, and genetic stigma. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is funding this research. The proposed work will use methods developed at The Methodology Center to design theory-driven, audience-targeted messages and to enrich our knowledge base about the little-understood social implications of genetic tests.

September 23, 2014


We are pleased to release the latest versions of PROC SCADLS and PROC SCADGLIM (1.2) for variable selection. These procedures are useful tools for researchers who are selecting variables from datasets where the number of potential variables is very large. These updates fix minor bugs and allow the procedures to be run on 64-bit versions of Windows. Methodology Center Principal Investigator Runze Li leads the Center’s research on variable selection in high-dimensional data sets. 


Read more or download the software

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