Research Interests

Dr. Maher is the co-director of the Physical Activity and Lifetime Wellness Laboratory and her research incorporates real-time data capture methodologies (e.g., ecological momentary assessment) with remote sensing and communication technologies (e.g., smartphones, accelerometers, GPS) to better understand physical activity and sedentary behavior.

My current lines of research include: 

  • Motivational Processes Underlying Health Behaviors

  • Impact of Health Behaviors on Well-Being

  • Health Behavior Co-Occurrence

  • Feasibility, Acceptability, and Validity of Ecological Momentary Assessment Methods

Funding

Ongoing Research Support

 

R15 AG066950-01

National Institute on Aging

Maher (PI), 4/15/2020-3/31/2021

Microtemporal Motivational Processes Regulating Health Behavior Adoption and Maintenance in Older Adults

This study will determine the motivational processes that regulate physical activity and sedentary behavior adoption versus maintenance over micro timescales, using a dual-process framework combined with Ecological Momentary Assessment and sensor-based monitoring of behavior.

Role: Principle Investigator

Completed Research Support

 

R01HL119255

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Dunton (PI), 8/8/2013-6/30/2019  

Maternal Stress and Children’s Obesity Risk

This study will investigate the effects of parental stress on children’s physical activity and eating behaviors through within‐day processes that contribute to children’s long‐term obesity risk.

Role: Co-Investigator

 

Research Endowment Grant                                          

American College of Sports Medicine

Maher (PI), 7/1/2018-6/30/2019

Microtemporal Motivational Process of Health Behavior Adoption and Maintenance in Older Adults

This study will investigate the feasibility and acceptability of employing real-time mobile and wearable technologies to differentiate the time-varying processes that regulate behavioral adoption and maintenance of physical activity and sedentary behavior among older adults.

Role: Principle Investigator

 

Research Excellence Grant                  

School of Health and Human Sciences, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Adams, Maher, McGuirt (PIs), 4/30/2018-12/31/2019

Physical activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Dietary Intake Behavior among African American College Freshmen: A Within-Person Approach

This study will use real-time data capture methodology with mobile phones as well as accelerometry, 24-hour dietary recall and urine collection to examine within-person associations (i.e., momentary and day level) between physical activity, sedentary behavior, diet, and fluid intake in African American college freshmen.

Role: Co-Principle Investigator

 

New Faculty Grant                                  

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Maher, Kennedy-Malone (PIs), 1/1/2018-6/30/2019

Motivational Processes Regulating Minority Older Adults' Sedentary Behavior in Real Time

This study will use real-time data capture methodology with mobile phones to establish the role of reflective and automatic processes in regulating racial and ethnic minority older adults’ sedentary behavior.

Role: Co-Principle Investigator

Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant

University of Southern California

Maher (PI), 7/1/2016-6/30/2017 

Investigating the Processes Underlying Older Adults' Sedentary Behavior in Real Time

This study used real-time data capture methodology with mobile phones to investigate how time-varying factors (e.g., cognitions, mood, and physiological sensations) predict subsequent bouts of sedentary behavior throughout the day. Additionally, this study explored the extent to which the frequency and consistency of contextual cues in the environment while sitting predict sedentary behavior habit strength.

Role: Principle Investigator

 

R01HL121330-01

Dunton, Hedeker (PIs), 5/1/2014-3/31/2018  

NIH/NHLBI                                                                                   

Novel Statistical Models for EMA Studies of Physical Activity

This study will develop and test novel multilevel statistical methods to examine the effects of subject-level parameters (variance and slope) of time-varying variables in ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies of physical activity. We will apply these modeling strategies to secondary analyses of pooled data from five federally- and foundation-supported EMA studies with a combined sample size of over 550 participants to examine the effects of subject-level variance and slopes of time-varying variables such as safety, stress, fatigue, and self-efficacy on physical and sedentary activity.

Role: Postdoctoral Research Associate

 

Paffenbarger-Blair Fund for Epidemiological Research on Physical Activity 

Maher (PI), 7/1/2014-6/30/2015

American College of Sports Medicine

Daily Motivational Processed Underlying Older Adults’ Sedentary Behavior

This study used beginning and end of day assessments via computer tablets to evaluate the motivational dynamics associated with daily sedentary behavior in older adults.

Role: Principle Investigator

 

118283-MRSGT-10-012-01-CPPB

Dunton (PI), 1/1/2010-12/31/15

American Cancer Society

Investigating Physical Activity Decision-Making in Real-Time.   

This study will use real-time data capture methodology with mobile phones to investigate how time-varying factors (e.g., cognitions, mood, and physiological sensations) predict subsequent physical activity levels throughout the day.

Role: Postdoctoral Research Associate

My dissertation focuses sedentary behavior in older adults - a high volume, but largely overlooked behavior in this population. Specifically my dissertation will shed light on the 1) time-varying and time-invariant motivational processes underlying sedetnary behavior in older adults, 2) assocaitions between domain-specific sedentary behavior and indicators of well-being, and 3) feasibility, acceptability, safety, and preliminary efficacy of a hybrid-intervention employing video segments and group discussions to reduce sedentary behavior in older adults. Ultimately, my dissertation has implications for 1) developing potent behavioral interventions to reduce sedentary behavior in older adults, 2) informing behavioral targets for interventions to modify sedetnary behavior as well as identifying population subgroups that may be in need of intervention, and 3) determining whether or not a technology-based, hybrid intervention is an intervention format that will engage older adults and change behavior. My dissertation research was funded in part by the Paffenbarger-Blair Fund for Epidemiological Research on Physical Activity from the American College of Sports Medicine Foundation and the Kligman Fellowship from the College of Health and Human Development at The Pennsylvania State University. 

Dissertation Topic

In January 2014, The Washington Post published a wonderful infographic detailing the ways in which the act of sitting can affect our physical and mental health. For more information regarding this image, please click here.