Improving public health is topic of Pattishall Lecture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Linda Collins, director of The Methodology Center and professor of human development and family studies and of statistics in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, will present the 2012 Pattishall Research Lecture. Her lecture, “Unpacking the Black Box: Engineering More Potent Behavioral Interventions to Improve Public Health,” will be given at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building on the University Park campus. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.

Collins’s impressive record of scholarship includes advancing the frontiers of knowledge in research methods as well as the prevention of serious health problems such as substance use and abuse. She is one of the leading researchers in the world focused on multivariate statistical modeling and its application to prevention research, and she is a major innovator in the analysis of longitudinal data, with an emphasis on the development and utilization of latent class models. She has applied latent class models to test the Gateway hypothesis of substance use, which asserts that some substances, such as cigarettes and alcohol, act as gateways through which individuals must pass before they progress to harder substances, such as marijuana and cocaine.

Collins also has devoted much of her time to addressing a major problem in preventing adverse outcomes of drug abuse, obesity, HIV, and mental health problems, among other public health issues. Careful study of engineering techniques has allowed her to conceptualize and develop statistical methods that may both shorten the length of time necessary for developing high-impact interventions as well as sharpen their precision.

Collins became the director of the Penn State Methodology Center and a professor of human development and family studies and of statistics in 1994. In 2000, she received the Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for the Social and Behavioral Sciences and, in 2004, she received the President’s Award of the Society for Prevention Research. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Connecticut in 1977 and a doctoral degree in quantitative psychology at the University of Southern California in 1983.

The Pattishall Research Lecture is delivered each year by the most recent recipient of the Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award, which honors a senior faculty member who has made outstanding research contributions to the field across a major portion of his or her career. The award was established by the late Evan Pattishall, who served as dean of the former College of Human Development, and his wife Helen.

Linda Collins can be reached at


Last Updated January 09, 2015