Stephen L. Rathbun

Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Professor Emeritus

Curriculum Vitae

Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Stephen L. Rathbun received BS (1976) and MS (1980) degrees in Biology from Florida University, and MS (1987) and PhD (1990) in Statistics from Iowa State University. He was on the faculty of the Department of Statistics at the University of Georgia from 1990-2001, and on the faculty of the Department of Statistics at Pennsylvania State University from 2001-2005. He joined the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia in 2005 as Associate Professor of Biostatistics, and has been Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics since 2010. He served as Interim Head of the department from 2007-2008.

  • PhD, Statistics, Iowa State University, 1990
  • MS, Statistics, Iowa State University, 1987
  • MS, Biology, Florida State University, 1980
  • BS, Biology, Florida State University, 1976
Areas of Expertise
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)
  • Spatial Statistics
  • Spatial Epidemiology
  • Applications of EMA in smoking, weight maintenance, maternal and maternal health, and racism
Honors, Awards, and Achievements
  • Excellence in Research Award, College of Public Health, University of Georgia, 2009

American Statistical Association

Course Instruction
  • BIOS 7010 Introductory Biostatistics I
  • BIOS 7020 Introductory Biostatistics II
  • PHAR 7100E Biostatistical Applications for Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries
  • BIOS 8130 Multivariate Design for Public Health
  • BIOS 8150 Spatial Epidemiology
  • BIOS 8200 Biostatistical Consulting
  • BIOS 8320 Asymptotic Biostatistical Inference
  • BIOS 9100 Biostatistics Graduate Seminar

Biostatistical methods are taught through the use of a diverse variety of data from public health and biomedicine. Emphasis is given to the appropriate use of statistical software, understanding the statistical content of the public health literature, the limits of statistical inference, and drawing thorough conclusions from results of statistical analysis.

Research Interests

Dr. Rathbun’s current research focuses on the use of devices such as cell phones and accelerometers for investigation of behavioral health. This includes design and data analysis for Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), a method from the behavioral sciences that uses devices such as cell phones to obtain self-report data in real time in the everyday environments of study participants. Applications involve EMA of smoking, weight maintenance, and the impact of racism on maternal stress and postpartum weight gain. I have also collaborated with colleagues in Kinesiology, Journalism and Engineering on a project involving the use of a virtual agent to encourage children to exercise, where research grade accelererometers as well at Fitbits are used to measure their physical activity. Funding is currently pending to support the geospatial analysis of ethnic disparities in the

Selected Publications

Hahn, L., Schmidt, M.D., Rathbun, S.L., Johnsen, K., Annesi, J.J., & Ahn, S.J. (2020). Using virtual agents to increase physical activity in young children with the Virtual Fitness Buddy Ecosystem: Study protocol for a cluster randomized trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials 99: e106181.

Mendez, DD, Sanders, SA, Karimi, HA, Gharani, P, Rathbun, SL, Gary-Webb, TL, Wallace, ML, Gianakas, JJ, Burke, L, & Davis, EM. (2019). Understanding pregnancy and postpartum health using ecological momentary assessment and mobile technology: Protocol for the PMOMS Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research: Research Protocols 8(6): e13569.

Burke, L.E., Shiffman, S., Music, E., Styn, M.A., Kristka, A., Smailagic, A., Siewiorek, D., Ewing, L.J., Chasens, E., French, B., Mancino, J., Mendez, D., Strollo, P., and Rathbun, S.L. (2017) Ecological momentary assessment in behavioral research: Addressing technological and human subjects challenges. Journal of Medical Internet Research 19(3), e77.

Rathbun, S.L., and Shiffman, S. (2016). Mixed effects models for recurrent events data with partially observed time-varying covariates: Ecological momentary assessment of smoking. Biometrics 72, 46-55. NIHMSID 728077


Rathbun, S.L. (2019). Estimation for mixed-effects point process models using second-order Laplace approximation. Workshop on Point Processes in Space, Time and Beyond, May 12-16, Skagen, Denmark.