Jennifer L. Maggs

 Jennifer Maggs

Professor, Human Development and Family Studies

Contact Information

208 Health and Human Development Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802


B.A. (Honours), 1986, Psychology, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada
M.A., 1990, Developmental Psychology, University of Victoria, BC, Canada
Ph.D., 1993, Developmental Psychology, University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Research Interests

My research interests center around alcohol and other substance use from initiation through midlife, with particular emphasis on the transition to adulthood defined broadly. I work with colleagues on several NIH-funded projects. These studies use very different developmental designs to examine the prevalence, etiology, and consequences of alcohol use. Postdoctoral fellows and graduate students working in these research groups are primarily involved in the British Cohort Studies and the University Life Study. Trainees are encouraged to develop their research interests and skills by reading, conducting analyses, and writing papers for publication. Our lab group has a strong history of mentoring eligible applicants in writing NRSA applications to fund doctoral and postdoctoral research, with positive results.


The University Life Study examines links between motivations, daily activities, college experiences, and risk behaviors (including heavy and extreme drinking, energy drink use, hookah use, marijuana use, and risky sexual behavior) among university students. This NIAAA-funded longitudinal + measurement burst design study was designed to examine daily fluctuations and developmental changes in links between risk behaviors across contexts and across college (R01-AA019606 to J. Maggs). Across 7 semesters, 744 student participants completed longer developmental web-surveys and a series of 14 consecutive daily web-surveys—yielding ≤98 days per person and ≥55,000 days of data in total. Using multi-level daily and longitudinal models, we are testing hypotheses about links between time use, motivations, risk behaviors, positive and negative consequences across days, contexts (e.g., Spring Break), and developmental time. Former graduate students (Megan Patrick, Caitlin Abar, Andrea Finlay, and Kaylin Greene) and postdocs (Anne Fairlie) have used ULS data for their dissertations and/or publish papers based on this work. Additional main collaborators, postdocs, and graduate students currently focusing on substance use in the ULS include Eva Lefkowitz (Co-Investigator), Meg Small (Prevention Research Center), Rebecca Evans-Polce (Methodology Center, PSU), Michael Russell (Methodology Center, PSU), Andrea Howard (Carleton University, Canada), and Brian Calhoun (HDFS). A closely related ULS team led by Dr. Eva Lefkowitz is focused on sexual health. Our current work is focusing on combining energy drinks with alcohol (R21-AA021426 to M. Patrick, University of Michigan), pre-partying, drinking games, patterns of hookah and other tobacco use, and extreme drinking, among other topics.


British Cohort Studies. Using developmental epidemiological data from three national longitudinal British cohort studies—the National Child Development Study (born 1958), British Cohort Study (1970), and Millennium Cohort Study (2001), we are examining the prevalence, predictors, and consequences of alcohol use across the life span. Each cohort began with >17,000 participants recruited in infancy and followed to the present. We have examined childhood predictors of adolescent and adult drinking, links of adolescent alcohol use with lower educational attainment by age 30, and intergenerational links between mothers’ and adolescents’ substance use. Our current work is focusing on predictors of alcohol use onset prior to age 11 as well as critically examining the J-curve linking alcohol abstinence in adulthood with premature mortality.

These data analyses are funded by the NIAAA (R01-019606 to J. Maggs; previously R21-015535). Our secondary data analysis team consists of Jennifer Maggs (PI; HDFS & PRC), Jeremy Staff (Sociology and Criminology), Megan Patrick (University of Michigan), Rebecca Evans-Polce (Methodology Center, PSU), John Schulenberg (University of Michigan), Laura Wray-Lake (University of Rochester), and Ingrid Schoon (Institute of Education, London). In addition, former graduate students Andrea Finlay and Kaylin Greene have been authors on papers from this project.


Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults based at the University of Michigan (R01-DA01411, R01-DA016575 to L. Johnston). Each year, a total of approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students are surveyed (12th graders since 1975, and 8th and 10th graders since 1991). In addition, annual follow-up questionnaires are mailed to a sample of each graduating class, yielding longitudinal data from over 35 cohorts up to age 55. As an Investigator on the MTF project, my work with colleagues has shown that frequent marijuana users in the years after high school are less likely to obtain post-secondary degrees than infrequent and non-users of marijuana, and has documented that normative configurations of social roles in the mid 20s (e.g., replicate across historical period and countries, and are associated with well-being and substance use. Other collaborative work has examined the prevalence of extreme binge drinking among high school seniors, links between community attachments and substance use, and age-related changes in reasons for alcohol and marijuana use through age 30.

Professional Experience

2004-Present: Associate Professor to Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University

2008-Present: Faculty Associate, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

2006-Present: : Research Associate, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL- Institute of Education (prior to 2015, IOE, University of London)

2003: Visiting Scholar, Institute of Education, University of London

2000: Visiting Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria

1996-2003: Assistant to Associate Professor, Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona

1996-2003: Adjunct Assistant Research Scientist, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

1995: Research Investigator, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

1993-1995: Visiting Scholar, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

1993-1994: Visiting Scientist, Prevention and Intervention in Childhood and Adolescence, Faculty of Public Health, Universität Bielefeld, Germany


Adolescent social development and health; transition to adulthood; risk behaviors, particularly alcohol use; prevention science; research methods.  

Selected Publications

Maggs, J. L., Staff, J., Kloska, D. D., Patrick, M. E., O’Malley, P. M., & Schulenberg, J. (2015). Predicting bachelor’s degree attainment by late adolescent marijuana use. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57, 205–211.

Maggs, J. L., Staff, J., Patrick, M. E., Wray-Lake, L., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2015). Alcohol use at the cusp of adolescence: A prospective national birth cohort study of prevalence and risk factors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56, 639–645.

Howard, A. L., Patrick, M. E., & Maggs, J. L. (2015). College student affect and heavy drinking: Variable associations across days, semesters, and people. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29, 530-533.

Patrick, M. E., Maggs, J. L., & Lefkowitz, E. S. (2015). Daily and longitudinal associations between drinking and sexual behavior among college students: Evidence from a measurement burst design. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25, 377-386.

Patrick, M. E. & Maggs, J. L. (2014). Energy drinks + alcohol: Links to alcohol behaviors and consequences across 56 days among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54, 454-459.

Staff, J., Greene, K., Maggs, J. L., & Schoon, I. (2013). Family and work transitions and changes in drinking across adulthood. Addiction, 109, 227–236.

Maggs, J. L., Jager, J., Patrick, M. E., & Schulenberg, J. (2012). Social role patterning in early adulthood in the USA: Adolescent predictors and concurrent well-being across four distinct role configurations. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 3, 190-210.

Maggs, J. L., Williams, L. R. & Lee, C. M. (2011). Ups and downs of alcohol use among first-year college students: Number of drinks, heavy drinking, and stumble and pass out drinking days. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 197-202. [2nd most downloaded paper of 2011 for this journal]

Brown, S., Mague, M., Maggs, J. L., Schulenberg, J., Hingson, R., Swartzwelder, S., Martin, C., Chung, T., Tapert, S. F., Sher, K., Winters, K. C., Lowman, C., Murphy, S. (2008). A developmental perspective on alcohol and youth ages 16-20. Pediatrics, 121 (Suppl 4), S290-S310.

Maggs, J. L., Patrick, M. E., & Feinstein, L. (2008). Childhood and adolescent predictors of alcohol use and problems in adolescence and adulthood in the National Child Development Study. Addiction, 103 (Suppl. 1), 7-22. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02173.x

Strategic Themes

  • Human Development
  • Domains of Health and Behavior
  • Methodology