Summer Institute Comes to a Close

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

Friday was the final day of the Summer Institute. We presented all of our hard work over the past month with much excitement and sadness. Excited to have accomplished and learned so much in such a short period of time and sad that the Institute was ending. I am sure that many of the bonds of friendship formed over the past month will continue to grow although we will be States away from each other.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Dr. Judith Bradford, the co-director of the Summer Institute, for her leadership and passion in moving LGBT health research forward as well as providing such a great training opportunity for a new generation of researchers who are dedicated to improving the health of our communities. In addition, Dr. Aimee Van Wagenen, also a co-director of the Summer Institute, has been an amazing source of daily support and sanity over the past month. Her dedication to LGBT health research and mad organization skills has made the Institute an awesome experience. Finally, Sari Reisner, whose expertise and enthusiasm for statistics has helped us with the data analysis for our final projects and has kept us calm as we ran into problems and stressed out about completing our projects.

In addition to the leaders of the Summer Institute, I need to thank the Network for the opportunity to share my experience at the Summer Institute. Although I cannot share the specifics about everyone’s project (I should add though that as projects become public through publication or conference presentations, I will try to continue to blog about that), I will leave you with a product of the Summer Institute that is publicly available. I present to you the “2011 Summer Institute Statertainment” video (statertainment is essentially the incorporation of statistics into pop music):

Final week of the summer institute

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

For the final week of the institute, we had another great line up of guest speakers. We started the week off with Phoenix Matthews, an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who indulged us with a great discussion on tobacco interventions for LGBT populations. On Tuesday, Kerith Conron from Northeastern University introduced us to cognitive testing of questions used to collected transgender data in population-based surveillance systems. She was followed by Walter Bockting, a professor at the University of Minnesota, who led a discussion on the development of transgender health research. Ilan Meyer, a Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute at UCLA, held a double session on the Proposition 8 trial and the role of the minority stress theory on Wednesday. Wrapping up the seminar series for the Summer Institute was Conall O’Cleirigh from Harvard University, leading a discussion on the impact of childhood sexual abuse on the health of gay and bisexual men.

On Friday, aka the final day of the Institute, we will be presenting our projects. We are all scurrying to pull together our presentations in the final few days left and enjoying each others company’s before we part ways soon.

Introducing Summer Institute Participants (Final Batch)

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

I have introduced Summer Institute participants last week and the week before.

This week, I present to you the rest of the Summer Institute participants:

Tristan Guarini is a doctoral candidate in Suffolk University’s Clinical Psychology program. Tristan’s current work examines transgender identity formation in female-to-male individuals and aspects of psychological functioning, identity satisfaction, and gender identity-related social support. Tristan is also interested in access to healthcare in trans populations and its impact on variables such as psychological functioning, overall health, and identity satisfaction.

Amee Schwitters is a PhD candidate in Medical Anthropology at the University of Montana. Amee earned her BA in Anthropology from Washington State University and MPH in Community Health Education from New Mexico State University. Her research interests are in sexuality, public anthropology, and HIV prevention. Her current research investigates the role of the sociocultural environment in influencing rural men’s decisions to remain closeted about having sex with other men and how that decision impacts emotional well-being and sexual risk communication.

Hale Thompson recently completed his second year at University of Minnesota’s PhD program in social epidemiology and is transitioning to University of Illinois Chicago’s Community Health PhD program. His research tends toward transgender health within a social ecological framework, methodology, and mobile technology as a health promotion tool. Here at the Institute he is analyzing the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s dataset from the TEACH study – Transgender Women Empowering and Advancing Community Health. You may recognize Hale as a guest blogger here on the Network for LGBT Health Equity blog. Read his posts during his time at NetRoots Nation 2011 here.

Mieke Thomeer is a doctoral student in sociology and a Population Research Center trainee at the University of Texas at Austin. Mieke studies how middle-aged and older adults in long-term intimate relationships experience physical and mental illness and how these experiences are shaped by gender and sexual identity. She also examines how nursing home risk is shaped by life course processes. Her research is both quantitative and qualitative, and most of her research uses couple-linked data.

Mark Williams earned his Master of Divinity Degree from Vanderbilt University and Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. He is currently a doctoral student in social welfare at the University of Washington. Mark is currently working on his dissertation, in which he analyzes a recently collected data set of LGBT older adults to examine associations between same-sex partnership status and health.

Michelle S. Williams earned a BS and MPH from Florida A&M University. Her academic and career interests are focused on eliminating cancer disparities with an emphasis on cancer prevention through the development and implementation of innovative health education and health promotion interventions. She is also interested in LGBT college student health and global health. Michelle has conducted research in Ghana, West Africa as a scholar in the National Institutes of Health Minority Health International Research Training program and as a Fulbright student scholar.

And there you have it folks, all of the amazing 2011 Summer Institute participants.

Week three guest lecturers

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

In addition to a very busy Monday, it has been a frenetic week here at the Summer Institute. On Tuesday, Deb Bowen returned and discussed designing interventions for sexual minority populations. She was followed by Heather Corliss, from Harvard University, who talked about her work looking at sexual orientation and substance use in youth. On Wednesday, we had David Chae, an assistant professor at Emory University, who led an interactive discussion on LGBT Asian-American populations and the challenges around categorizing race in health research and in general. He also highlighted the nuances of racial and sexual identity categories and used many examples across time and space. The following day, we heard from the Fenway Institute’s Co-Chair, Kenneth Mayer who presented on HIV trials and Patricia Case, a Senior Research Scientist at the Fenway Institute, who presented on mixed methods (i.e., using both qualitative and quantitative data). Ron Stall, a professor and Chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, led a double seminar session on Friday covering the topic of resiliency in MSM populations.

In the data lab this week, we scrambled to wrap up analyses as we prepare for final presentations next week. In addition to preparing our slides, meals have been filled with discussion of what outfits we will be wearing for our presentations next week. Which prompted a small shopping spree on Newbury Street over the weekend.

Introducing Summer Institute Participants (Batch 2)

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

Last week, I introduced six of the Summer Institute participants.

This week, I present to you another five of the Summer Institute participants:


Luis Gutierrez-Mock is the Senior Technology Exchange Specialist at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, through the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at UCSF. In this position he provides national capacity building assistance to organizations adapting HIV prevention interventions for transgender populations. He holds an MA in Sexuality Studies, a second MA in Ethnic Studies, and is currently pursuing an MPH degree.

Ning Hsieh studies demography and sociology at UPenn. She is interested in mental health, social networks and support, population processes, and cross-national comparative studies. Her current research includes perceived HIV risk and mental well-being in Malawi, cross-national comparison of suicide trend, and social networks and subjective well-being in Japan and the US.

Alexa Martin-Storey is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her Ph.D in developmental psychology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She is primarily interested in the association between self concept and environmental context in the prediction of mental health and academic outcomes, focusing in particular on these variables in sexual minority youth.

Larissa McGarrity is a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on the mental and physical health effects of discrimination (interpersonal and institutional), prejudice, and felt stigma for sexual minorities. She is also interested in working clinically with LGBTQ populations.

Tonia Poteat is a doctoral candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the Social and Behavioral Interventions Program within the Department of International Health. Tonia graduated from Yale with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master of Medical Science degree from Emory University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Tonia has worked as a health scientist consultant with the Global AIDS Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Come back next week to learn more about the rest of the Summer Institute participants!

Week three of the Summer Institute begins

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

This week starts with a long Monday. Institute participants, Mieke Thomeer and Mark Williams, joined Aimee Van Wagenen (one of the co-directors of the institute) in a seminar on LGBT elders this morning. This seminar was followed by a presentation from Melissa Clark, an associate professor at Brown University, who spoke on the health of lesbian and bisexual women, particularly around survey methods, recruitment of women participants in studies, and cancer screening. In addition to the afternoon data lab, tonight featured a special grant writing session, led by Deborah Bowen, a professor here at Boston University. Based on information presented in this session, participants will be writing a specific aims page that we will review as a group next week.

Statistick-ing…

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

On Wednesday and Thursday afternoons this week there were optional advanced statistics sessions that several participants attended. These advanced sessions were led by Katherine Masyn, an Assistant Professor at Harvard University, who did an amazing job covering the statistical method of latent variable modeling (I will not inundate this blog post with the details of what latent variable modeling is, but take my word that it is a very useful tool).

In project news, we submitted our first set of tables and refined project proposals after spending the week exploring our data. Some of the common problems that we have been encountering have to do with missing data and survey weights. Fortunately, we are not alone and we have been able to help each other out with problems as they arise, whether it is figuring out new software, learning how to create tables, or discussing conceptual issues around our research questions.

This week also, there were several Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park. From our dorm, we can hear the crowd roars, which is really kind of cool. I should note that the noise did not interfere with the viewing of the season premiere of Project Runway on Thursday night. Several of us also got to hang out with Gustavo Torrez on Friday after the data lab, which was a great way to end a nerdy week of statistics.

Introducing Summer Institute Participants (Batch 1)

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

I wanted to use this opportunity to introduce participants of this year’s Summer Institute. As I have mentioned before, a variety of academic disciplines are represented and all the participants are doing great work in improving our understanding of LGBT health.

Here are (in alphabetical order) six of the Summer Institute participants:

Edward J. Alessi is assistant professor of social work at Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work from New York University and his M.S in Social Work from Columbia University.  He is interested in lesbian, gay, and bisexual mental health issues, particularly the connection between social stressors and psychiatric disorders.

Robert Coulter works at the Center for Research on High Risk Behaviors in the Health and Human Development Division at Education Development Center. He is also a part-time graduate student in social and behavioral sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. In addition, Robert serves on the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth, which recommends and advocates to all branches of state government effective policies, programs, and resources for LGBT youth to thrive.

Nicholas Eaton is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota. His research primarily concerns the conceptualization, assessment, and intersection of psychopathology, personality, and other individual differences. In particular, he examines how to classify mental disorders empirically so that they most accurately reflect the data.

Shandu Foster is a graduate student in the doctoral program in Sociology at Indiana University. He received his BA in Sociology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies from Hunter College. His interests are broadly defined in the areas of medical sociology, social psychology, race, gender and sexuality. Shandu was a recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health – Career Opportunities in Research fellowship.

Kristi E. Gamarel is a doctoral student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in the Social Personality Psychology Department. She currently works at the Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies & Training. Her research focuses on understanding and documenting the perspectives of socially-disadvantaged group members (with a particular emphasis on LGBT youth and young adults) and examining psychosocial and contextual factors that influence health promotion among populations affected by HIV/AIDS.

Eric Anthony Grollman is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Indiana University. His research focuses on the role of sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and gender on individuals’ health and worldviews. His recent research examines the physical, mental, and sexual health consequences of discrimination and prejudice. He strives to stress the importance of examining the intersections among race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Eric is also a blogger for the Kinsey Institute. Read his blog here.

Come back next week to learn more about other Summer Institute participants!

Week Two of the Summer Institute: Data Analysis Course

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

Our very own Dr. Scout finished off the first week of seminars with a talk on the landscape of federal policy around LGBT health research. This week of the Summer Institute is the Intermediate Data Analysis Course. Led by Saundra Schneider and Niccole Pamphilis from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, this week’s focus is on quantitative methods to look at LGBT health. We started the day off with a mini-introduction to quantitative methods and spent the afternoon reviewing project proposals that we had submitted last week. Everyone has really interesting projects and I will be sure to post more information on those projects in the next couple of weeks.

Powering through the first week of the Summer Institute

by Nicole VanKim

Guest Blogger, Reporting from the Summer Institute 2011

The first week of the Summer Institute has been an amazing jumping off point for the upcoming three weeks. In the past few days, we have covered numerous topics in the seminars including identifying populations, conceptual frameworks, research methods, research ethics, and how to write research papers. These topics provide many of the participants with some of the foundational pieces needed to effectively approach our research and in many ways, help to equalize the playing field for all of us in the room. For example, some participants come to the institute with very strong skills in conceptual frameworks and a lot of writing experience, while others may be stronger in the area of methods. Getting us all on the same page helps us to strengthen our respective weak spots. The data lab each afternoon has been filled with the low murmur of keyboard strokes, mouse clicks, and conversation about data nuances as we studiously explore our various datasets in preparation for setting up our research proposals. I am very excited to see what everyone’s project is going to be and look forward to hearing presentations on the final day of the institute.

Apart from the exciting happenings of the Institute, I will be enjoying my first weekend in “Beantown” with the major heat wave headed this way.