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The portico of Old Main at the University Park campus during the fall.
Spring 2024 Science Achievement Graduate Fellowship Lecture
Add to Calendar 2024-03-26T19:30:00 2024-03-26T20:30:00 UTC Spring 2024 Science Achievement Graduate Fellowship Lecture 201 Thomas Building
Start DateTue, Mar 26, 2024
3:30 PM
End DateTue, Mar 26, 2024
4:30 PM
Presented By
Elizabeth A. Stuart

“Learning What Works in Populations for Public Health and Public Policy: The Role of Careful Study Design, Statistics, and Statisticians”

Event Series: SAGF Lecture

Sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science with funds from the Russell E. Marker Lecture Endowment

Webinar link


Elizabeth Stuart 1x1

Elizabeth A. Stuart is the Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Chair and Bloomberg Professor of American Health in the Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with joint appointments in the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Health Policy and Management.

A statistician by training, her research interests are in design and analysis approaches for estimating causal effects in experimental and nonexperimental studies, including questions around the external validity of randomized trials and the internal validity of nonexperimental studies. Her recent interests include combining data sources to assess treatment effect heterogeneity and methods for evidence synthesis. She has extensive experience with the application of causal inference methods in education, the social sciences, and public health, particularly mental health, substance use, and state policy evaluation. 

She has received research funding for her work from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, and she has served on advisory panels for the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She has received the mid-career award from the Health Policy Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association, the Gertrude Cox Award for applied statistics, Harvard University’s Myrto Lefkopoulou Award for excellence in biostatistics, and the Society for Epidemiologic Research’s Marshall Joffe Epidemiologic Methods Research Award.


Lecture Abstract

Many policy and practice questions involve wanting to know about the causal effects of interventions or risk factors in populations. However, while rigorous designs such as randomized controlled trials provide unbiased effect estimates for the sample at hand, they do not necessarily inform about effects in a target population of interest—they provide internal validity but not necessarily external validity. While there has been increasing discussion of this limitation of traditional trials, and increasing evidence that the participants in trials often differ from those in target populations, relatively little statistical work has been done developing methods to assess or enhance the ability of randomized trials to inform decision-making in specific populations. This talk will provide a framework for thinking about internal and external validity in the context of population treatment effects, and it will provide an overview of study designs and statistical methods for estimating population effects. Methods discussed will include interrupted time series approaches, methods for generalizing trial results to populations, and propensity score methods in large-scale data sources. The talk will also discuss the role of statisticians in developing and applying these methods, the importance of study design, and open methodological questions that remain. Examples will come from public health and public policy, including topics such as gun policy, suicide prevention, and opioids.


About the Science Achievement Graduate Fellows Lectures

The Science Achievement Graduate Fellows Lectures feature distinguished speakers in science and mathematics and are an outreach of the SAGF scholarship program in the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Established in 2018, the SAGF scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding graduate students seeking a doctoral degree in each of the college's seven departments and who are interested in the advancement of women and gender-diverse individuals in the sciences and related fields. The SAGF scholarships recognize women and gender-diverse individuals — both underrepresented groups in the sciences and mathematics — who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are role models for the students in the college. Each scholarship is named in honor of an outstanding woman scientist or mathematician who not only made groundbreaking discoveries but also blazed the trail for others who have followed in their footsteps. The program fellows host two distinguished lectures a year to honor the women scientists for whom the scholarships are named.