Brown Bag Seminars

All brown bag seminars are held in The Methodology Center’s conference room, 401 Health and Human Development (HHD) Building, on Thursdays 12–1:30pm, unless otherwise noted. Please note that many weeks there will not be a speaker.


Spring Semester 2020



February 6: Ashley Linden-Carmichael and Lab (Penn State)

Daily Diary Findings of Alcohol, Marijuana, and Polysubstance Use: The Role of Cannabis Mode of Administration, Affect, and Mental Health Symptomatology

Ashley Linden-CarmichaelThis brown bag will present on findings from recently collected daily diary data focused on alcohol and marijuana co-use recently sponsored by the Methodology Center (Pilot PI: Ashley Linden-Carmichael). Anna Hochgraf, M.S. will present on the moderating role of anxiety and sex on the day-level association between alcohol and marijuana co-use. Renee Cloutier will present on differences in subjective intoxication, level of cannabis use, and negative consequences based on mode of cannabis use. Finally, Natalia Van Doren, M.S. will present on preliminary findings using multilevel latent class analysis to unpack latent classes of days based on self-reported substance use.





February 20: Jillian Strayhorn (Penn State)

Incorporating methods from decision sciences into the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) framework: Implications for the optimization of behavioral and biobehavioral interventions

Jillian StrayhornThe multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) is an engineering-inspired framework for developing, optimizing, and evaluating behavioral and biobehavioral interventions that are not only effective, but also affordable, scalable, and readily implementable. This presentation will focus on the optimization phase of MOST, which consists of (1) a randomized and powered optimization trial that estimates the individual and combined effects of intervention components and then, based on the results of the optimization trial, (2) decision-making about which components merit inclusion in the optimized intervention. We will introduce key concepts from the field of decision science, and we will describe how we plan to apply these concepts in advancing new methods for decision-making in MOST.





March 3: Joint Seminar With the Prevention Research Center – Brittany Rhodes Cooper (Washington State University)

Leveraging D&I Science to Advance Understanding of Evidence-based Prevention Program Scale-Up

The prevalence of many behavioral health and related problems have increased over the last decade, even in the face of a growing knowledge and evidence base. Many different programs, policies, and practices have been shown to prevent such problems, but very few have been implemented at the scale needed to impact population health. This talk will present results from three studies that illustrate how approaches and frameworks from dissemination and implementation science can advance our understanding of evidence-based prevention program scale-up.

Note: This talk will be held on Tuesday, March 3 in the Living Center in Henderson Building






April 23: Gracelyn Cruden (Oregon Social Learning Center)

Development and Testing of a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis Tool to Support the Selection of Evidence-Based Programs for Local Implementation

 Gracelyn CrudenThis brown bag introduces an innovative approach for developing a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) tool. Such tools can facilitate decision-making conversations and mitigate cognitive biases. This talk will introduce 1) MCDA tool components; 2) stakeholder engagement approaches based in systems science for tool development; 3) features that improve tool acceptability and utility; and 4) expectations for integrating MCDA into decision-making. To illustrate these points, stakeholder engagement strategies used to derive an initial MCDA tool will be described. A pilot study and iterated tool will be presented, alongside a framework for how MCDA tools can support intervention adoption for implementation.





Fall Semester 2019



August 29: Kate Guastaferro & Kathleen Zadzora (Penn State)

 A comprehensive sexual abuse prevention strategy: Experimental design and Initial Findings

Sexual abuse affects a minimum of 60,000 children a year in the United States and accounts for nearly 50% of all reports of maltreatment in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  This presentation will describe a comprehensive, statewide child sexual abuse prevention trial comprised of 3 evidence-based interventions, targeting nearly 100,000 individuals across 5 counties. Specifically highlighted are the experimental and implementation designs selected for this applied setting as well as a first look at preliminary data.





September 19th: Blair Evans (Penn State)

 Associations between Health Behavior and Small Group Phenomena: Multilevel Perspectives Applied to Sport Teams and Exercise Groups

Small groups are widespread in physical activity settings, and carry special significance for members develop close relationships and positive social identities. Dr. Evans will present empirical findings from cross – sectional and prospective studies conducted in the Team lab characterizing how small group phenomena: (a) predict members’ motivation for physical activity, and (b) produce pressures that enable or prevent behaviors that carry health risks (e.g., alcohol use). The presentation will highlight strategies to examine the role of small group phenomena in health behavior, with a focus on the multilevel strategies employed within study design, measurement, and analysis.





 September 26th: Megan Schuler (RAND Corporation)

 “We’re not all the same!” – Examining heterogeneity in substance use disparities among sexual minority adults

In this talk, I will discuss findings from recent work examining substance use disparities among sexual minority adults compared to heterosexual adults using national survey data. Prior studies have demonstrated that sexual minority (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual) individuals, overall, experience elevated rates of substance use relative to heterosexual individuals, yet few studies have examined variations in substance use among sexual minorities. The recent addition of sexual identity to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health affords the opportunity to generate robust, nationally – representative estimates of LGB disparities and to characterize variation across subgroups of LGB adults. Dr. Schuler will present findings regarding important heterogeneity in opioid – related disparities among LGB adults with respect to sexual identity (gay/lesbian vs. bisexual) and gender; highlight variation in sexual minority substance use disparities across age cohorts; and discuss the potential contributing role of early substance use initiation among sexual minority youth to substance use disparities in adulthood. The implications of this work for substance use prevention and treatment efforts to decrease LGB disparities will be discussed.





 October 3rd: Mark Stemmler (University of Erlangen -Nuremberg)

 Person – oriented methods: An Alternative Statistical Approach in Developmental Psychology

Configural Frequency Analysis (CFA) will be introduced. CFA is a useful tool for person – oriented (as opposed to variable – oriented) research. CFA can identify people who share patterns of characteristics. These patterns can be compared to other homogeneous subgroups in order to generalize about how different subgroups of the population develop. On the other hand, CFA can also identify patterns that are less common that would be expected; these can be used to understand abnormal development.





  October 17th: John Felt (Penn State)

  Moving Beyond Between – Person Approaches: Using Intensive Longitudinal Data to Study Stress, Psychological Outlook, and Health Behaviors

A person’s psychological outlook (e.g., optimism and pessimism, future orientation) is associated with stress and health behaviors such as substance use and abuse. During this talk, John will discuss a series of studies using between and within – person approaches using traditional laboratory studies and ecological momentary assessment with wearable devices to investigate stress, psychological outlook, and health behaviors. The talk will end with a discussion of the future directions of John’s program of research.





 October 31st: Bethany Bray (The University of Illinois at Chicago)

 Transitions in smokers’ social networks after quit attempts: A latent transition analysis

This study used The Methodology Center’s innovative methodological work in latent transition analysis to model multiple features of smokers’ social networks simultaneously. It (1) identified types of networks based on multiple factors, including network characteristics (e.g., network size, presence of new members) and social contacts (e.g., friends, smoking buddies, romantic partner), and (2) examined change in these types over time after a smoking quit attempt. A brief introduction to latent transition analysis will be provided for attendees unfamiliar with the method.





 November 7th: Hannah Allen (Penn State)

 Substance use and young adult achievement during the transition to independence

Young adulthood is marked by shifts in substance use behavior and the accumulation of new roles and responsibilities, including developmental milestones such as graduating college, entering the workforce, getting married, and having children. During this talk, Hannah will describe her recent work using advanced analytic techniques such as multilevel modeling and time – varying effect modeling to better understand the impact these milestones have on the relationship between substance use and achievement among key young adult populatio ns including college students, graduate students, and recent college graduates. Having recently entered the academic job market, Hannah will also discuss areas of future research and will solicit feedback on how to frame her research interests and best describe her program of research moving forward.





November 21st: Ben Bayly (Penn State)

Tips for and Challenges of your First Grant Submission & PAMT Post Doc

During this presentation I will share strategies for completing a competitive first grant submission including selecting a funding institute, contacting your program officer, and writing (and rewriting) your specific aims. I will also cover challenges that can be particularly relevant for a first grant submission and reserve time for an open – ended discussion around securing funding.




December 5th: Grant Bootcamp Brainstoring(featuring PAMT Postdocs)