Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research
Scientist Seminars and Mini Trainings
March 2022 – Scientist Seminar | Open Science 2.0: How?
Dr. Wassim Tarraf built on Dr. Briana Mezuk’s Mini Training on why Open Science is important and discussed how to create a workflow for reproducible research in GitHub that can be shared. This presentation was an update and extension of his seminar in May 2020 and the February 2021 seminar that was a more applied session on how to work in R.
March 2022 - Mini Training | Open Science 1.0: Why?
Dr. Briana Mezuk discussed the Open Science Framework; why it exists, and why MCUAAAR Scientists might want to participate. The mission of the Center for Open Science (https://www.cos.io/) is to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of research. As we know, NIH policy requires transparency/reproducibility in all research they fund. In discussing why participate in Open Science, Dr. Mezuk noted that funders require you to make your data available, journals are increasingly requiring it, it makes your work more widely discoverable and it supports your mission as a scholar get your knowledge into the hands of people beyond the academy. Dr. Wassim Tarraf will present Open Science 2.0: How? in the March Scientist Seminar.
February 2022 - Scientist Seminar | K-Award Panel
Dr. Briana Mezuk moderated a panel of MCUAAAR Scientists and Faculty who have received Career Development Awards (K-Awards). The panel included Dr. Sheria Robinson-Lane, Dr. Elham Mahmoudi, and Dr. Kent Key. The panel shared their experiences applying for a K-Award, what they wished they knew when they started the process, the pros and cons of K-Bootcamps, and other very useful advice. Dr. Mezuk and Dr. Angela Elam also shared their experiences with writing and receiving K-awards.
January 2022 - Mini Training | Causal Inference 1.0: Frameworks and Randomized Controlled Trials
Dr. Briana Mezuk presents the first part of a two-part series that the ANC is doing on causal inference. She introduces main frameworks and discusses randomized controlled trials. She also recommends key papers that will provide a background to the Causal Inference 2.0 Scientist Seminar scheduled for January 19th.
January 2022 - Scientist Seminar | Causal Inference 2.0
Dr. Wassim Tarraf builds on what Dr. Mezuk presented in the Mini-Training. In this seminar, he provides a very brief introduction to causation, mentions a few modeling strategies, and spends most of the seminar on matching techniques for causal inference. He also provides a number of resources for additional information.
Please contact Dr. Tarraf for the code used for this presentation. You will need R/RStudio to open and adjust the code.
December 2021 - Scientist Seminar | The Arts and Crafts of Grant Writing
Dr. Briana Mezuk discusses grant writing for NIH-type proposals in this seminar. She provides general tips for proposal writing, extensive advice regarding writing specific aims, strategies to make the proposal reviewer’s job easier, and suggestions for addressing grant reviewers’ comments regarding proposals being too ambitious and/or not feasible. She also offers numerous resources available for further assistance.
October 2021 - Scientist Seminar | Latent Variable Modeling
Dr. Wassim Tarraf provided a brief introductory session on Latent Variables Modeling. The session includes a brief discussion (30,000-foot view) of path analyses, confirmatory factor analyses, structural equations models and their extension to longitudinal analyses. Brief examples using data from the Health and Retirement Study are provided throughout.
May 2021 - Scientist Seminar | Strategies for selecting measures to assess psychosocial constructs in primary data collection
Dr. Briana Mezuk gave an overview of the core elements of measurement, utilized the Centers for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression (CESD) Scale as an example of some of the challenges in using psychosocial measures with diverse populations, shared key resources for finding existing psychosocial measures, and discussed strategies and considerations for adapting measures to, or creating new measures for, specific populations.
Shades of blue and gray (PDF). Dang L, Dong L, Mezuk B. Shades of Blue and Gray: A Comparison of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview for Assessment of Depression Syndrome in Later Life. Gerontologist. 2020 May 15;60(4):e242-e253. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnz044 . PMID: 31112598 ; PMCID: PMC7228460.
April 2021 – Mini Training | Text Mining: Quantitative Analysis of Qualitative Data
Dr. Wassim Tarraf noted that this material usually takes eight hours to teach, so it was just a cursory overview of the subject matter; it scratches the surface of what you can do in text analysis. Text is nothing but data, except it is slightly more complex data. Now we have the technology to deal with that. Even for people who do qualitative work, you can potentially add a quantitative component to that work so that you can show some trends and patterns that exist in the data. The example that he utilized was all the CDC tweets between April 2020 – March 2021; 3,200 tweets. He used an app available on Chrome called Twlets – https://twlets.com/.
March 2021 – Mini Training | “Recalibrating” the use of race in health research: Why, when, and how?
Dr. Briana Mezuk led a discussion of the Ioannidis article in JAMA (Ioannidis JPA, Powe NR, Yancy C. Recalibrating the Use of Race in Medical Research. JAMA. 2021;325(7):623–624. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0003). She summarized two main points from the article; that race is a historical, poorly-specified measure that nevertheless has a great deal of explanatory power when it comes to health, and that race is used both implicitly and explicitly in medical research. She alluded to Dr. James S. Jackson’s keynote address in 2012 at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) entitled, “The Masquerade of Racial Group Differences in Psychological Sciences”. For discussion, she posed the question, How does the construct of race inform or intersect with your research program? Her presentation provided an important segue to the March Scientist Seminar.
Other references generated in the Chat:
This article (intro to a special issue) by James Jackson and others from 2018 has lots of important things re structural and cultural racism as important to include, etc. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5915332/
This is an interesting pub on within and across group heterogeneities in Hispanics done with HCHS/SOL data: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4716704/
This is the link to the video that Dr. Mezuk included in her presentation – James S. Jackson – The Masquerade Of Racial Group Differences on Vimeo. This keynote is from 2012.
March 2021 – Scientist Seminar| On Racism: A New Standard for Publishing on Racial Health Inequities
Dr. Amanda Woodward led a discussion that was a continuation of the discussion from the Mini Training that Dr. Mezuk conducted during the Program Meeting. Dr. Woodward noted that both the JAMA and Health Affairs articles focused on the use of race as a variable without unpacking what is actually being measuring. To begin the discussion, she asked how the construct of race informs or intersects with the scientists’ research and teaching, and asked for examples where they have seen this done really well or not done well, whether it’s in publishing or research. A lively discussion ensured.
March 2021 – Special REC Training | Should I Write a Book?
Dr. R. Khari Brown’s talk was held March 26, 2021. Dr. Brown is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Wayne State University, and is a leading expert of religion and American politics. In this training workshop, he discussed his thought processes related to the decision to co-author the book, Faith without works is dead: Race and the power of sermons on American politics, with Drs. Ron Brown and James S. Jackson, published by The University of Michigan Press. He explored various reasons for writing a book; utilitarian reasons (for tenure or promotion), to do good, and as a means to tie other published work together. He also gave an overview of the process involved in writing a book.
February 2021 – Mini Training | Planning for and Responding to Mental Health Issues in Research Participants
Dr. Amanda Woodward presented an updated version of a similar training she conducted last year. She discussed the need to think about potential mental health crises that could occur in research participants, as well as caring for researchers. All of this is even more important during COVID-19. She covered key points related to planning, monitoring, and ending research participation.
February 2021 – Scientist Seminar | R Studio: The Sequel
Dr. Wassim Tarraf conducted this Scientist Seminar as a follow-up to training he did in May 2020. The impetus for this session was a request from the MCUAAAR Scientists for a more applied session for how to work in R. The objective of this session is to show how you can create a project and run that project from top to bottom in a way that is completely reproducible. Everything Dr. Tarraf demonstrated in this session can be done with software, packages, and datasets that are publicly available.
January 2021 – Mini Training | Reporting on an Innovative Telephone Outreach Program to Older Detroiters
Dr. Tam Perry and Ms. Vanessa Rorai of the Community Liaison and Recruitment Core (CLRC) reported on the incredibly ambitious and innovative outreach to all members of the Participant Research Pool. The impetus of the outreach was to check on the members of the PRP during the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce their social isolation, and provide information to resources for anyone who needed them. The calls were made between April 20, 2020 and January 29, 2021.
January 2021 – Scientist Seminar | Using Your Research to Change the World: And Getting Credit for it Too
Dr. Amanda Woodward discussed how to use research for change (reviewing two different models for doing this), the costs and benefits to doing activist-engaged scholarship (recognizing the ability to do this work is different at different points in our career), and ways to describe and structure the work to get credit for it. To prepare for the discussion, scientists were asked to read, Nerlinger AL, Shah AN, Beck AF, Beers LS, Wong SL, Chamberlain LJ, Keller D. The Advocacy Portfolio: A Standardized Tool for Documenting Physician Advocacy. Acad Med. 2018 Jun;93(6):860-868. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002122. PMID: 29298182.
December 2020 – Mini-Training | Quantile Regression
Dr. Wassim Tarraf is an Associate Professor, at the Institute of Gerontology, Department of Healthcare Sciences, at Wayne State University. His Mini-Training was entitled, “An Alternative Modeling Approach to Uncover Disparities: Quantile Regression”. While researchers typically use ordinary least squares regression, that method has assumptions that are necessarily met, especially when you have bimodal or multimodal distributions, skewed distributions or outliers. Quantile regression is an extension of linear regression and is a modeling technique that can be used when the assumption of least squares regression cannot be met.
November 2020 - News flash! Author Mentions in Science News Reveal Wide-Spread Ethnic Bias
Tips for Talking with Journalists
Dr. Amanda Woodward is the Associate Director for Academic Affairs and Research, MSW Program Director, and Professor at Wayne State University. She is also a Co-Lead of the MCUAAAR REC. Her Mini-Training had tips on one’s message, making sure you have talking points, general communication tips, and more in-depth suggestions for talking with journalists. There was a lively discussion after the presentation with scientists and faculty.
October 2020 - Resources and Strategies for Conducting Research During the COVID-Era
Dr. James McNally and Dr. Briana Mezuk facilitated a discussion of data resources and strategies for staying productive during a period of time when a) data collection is either prohibited, limited, or altered to be virtual and b) “working from home” has a new set of challenges. Seminar participants were asked to view the NACDA video before the seminar, and bring their questions/ideas/et to discuss during the AnC seminar.
May 2020 - Reproducible Analytic Workflow: Tips and an Application
Dr. Wassim Tarraf shared tips on how to create a workflow for reproducible research. He presented Scott Long’s concept of research workflow which includes planning, organizing, and documenting scientific process, establishing and fostering collaborations, managing and sharing data, analyzing data, disseminating findings, and archiving the process for replication. Dr. Tarraf also walked participants through an example using Git and GitHub.
April 2020 - Doing All Things: When the World is Going to $#@! Around You
Dr. Amanda Woodward discussed time management and strategies to be productive when there is a global pandemic. She discussed issues such as planning one’s semester, aligning time with priorities, writing tips and overcoming resistance to writing, and dealing with the avalanche of email. Participants also shared their favorite tips and strategies to increase productivity.
February 2020 – Put Your Suit On, We’re Getting in the Pool: Approaches to Pooling Datasets
Dr. Briana Mezuk discusses what it means to “pool” datasets. The fundamental idea is that you can take information in one study and use it to “fill in the gaps” in another study. There are several variations, or ways of doing this, but they all stem from the idea that the data you have can be used to impute the data you do not. Like all imputation strategies, these approaches can address some sources of bias, but at a cost of precision.