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Kathleen E. Miller, PhD

Kathleen E. Miller, PhD

Senior Research Scientist


Research Assistant Professor, Sociology

Contact Information

1021 Main Street
Buffalo, NY  14203-1016
Phone: (716) 887-2588
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Primary Research Areas

Energy drink use, substance use and risk-taking in young adults; adolescent athletic involvement and problem behavior; sports, gender and sexual risk.

Alcohol and Energy Drink Use, Expectancies and Sexual Risk Taking

Miller | Dermen | Lucke
This study will assess the use of caffeinated energy drinks by U.S. adolescents and young adults (age 13-25) and will examine links between sexual risk-taking and the use of energy drinks mixed with alcohol.

Energy drink (ED) use, particularly when mixed with alcohol (AED), is a rapidly emerging but understudied phenomenon that has been linked with both problem drinking and unsafe sexual activity. This study will recruit a longitudinal survey sample of 3,000 U.S. youth aged 13-25 in order to (1) provide the first detailed, nationally representative descriptive portrait of ED and AED use in adolescents and emerging adults, (2) examine event-level and prospective relationships among AED use, AED expectancies, and sexual risk-taking, and (3) assess the role of gender in moderating those links. The study will foster a theoretically coherent and empirically sound basis for understanding the relationships among these potentially health-compromising  behaviors. We expect that the findings will inform the future development of more effective screening, intervention, and regulatory strategies for reducing AED-related risky sexual activity. Dr. Miller’s co-investigators include RIA’s Dr. Kurt Dermen and Dr. Joseph Lucke. Funded by a grant of $1,374,875 from NIAAA, 2013-2016.

Alcoholic Energy Drinks and Bar Violence Study

Miller | Quigley

This research will examine the prevalence and mechanisms linking the use of alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs) and bar violence among U.S. young adults. Two hundred young adult (aged 18-30) men and women will complete an online web survey of recent experiences with bar drinking and bar conflicts. The study will examine whether AED use is associated at the event level with a higher incidence of bar violence than noncaffeinated alcohol use alone, and assess whether the relationship is mediated by heavy drinking. Funded by RIA's Howard T. Blane Director’s Award for Development of Innovative Research in the Addictions (BDAA), 2014-15.

Gender Differences in Responses to Caffeine in Children and Adolescents

Temple | Miller
This research will examine how gender and pubertal development impact the relationship between acute caffeine consumption and risk taking behavior in children (age 8-9) and adolescents (age 15-17).

Caffeine use in children and adolescents is on the rise, but the effects of caffeine within this population are understudied and poorly understood.   Previous studies have shown that risk taking behavior is associated with substance use, including caffeine, emerges during adolescence, and varies by sex.   This proposal investigates the developmental time-course of the relationship among acute caffeine, risk taking, and sex.  The findings from this study will help elucidate basic mechanisms that underlie sex differences in the response to caffeine and, perhaps other drugs of abuse.  This will improve our ability to identify factors that place individuals at higher risk for drug use and abuse. This is an administrative supplement extending a grant awarded to Jennifer Temple (Associate Professor, Dept. of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences) by NIDA. The supplement, for which Kathleen Miller is Co-Investigator, is for $99,836 total costs  and runs from 5/1/14 to 2/28/2015.

Peer Victimization as a Pathway to Adolescent Substance Use

Livingston | Miller | Testa | Derrick | Lucke | Nickerson
This research will examine the conditions under which bullying and sexual harassment among teens may contribute to emotional distress and the development of substance use.

Unfortunately, many youth experience abuse at the hands of their peers. Some experience few if any consequences, while for others, the consequences can be life-altering and severe. Little is known about the conditions under which peer victimization is most likely to cause harm and for whom. This research will examine the conditions under which peer victimization (i.e., bullying and peer sexual harassment) contributes to emotional distress and the development of substance use among adolescents, both acutely and over time.  A randomly selected sample of 13-15 year-old adolescents (N=950) will be recruited from the community to participate in a two-year longitudinal survey study of peer victimization, emotional adjustment, and substance use.  An 8-week daily process study will be embedded within the longitudinal survey to capture daily experiences of peer victimization and acute responses among a sub-sample of victimized students.  This multi-method approach will enable us to identify the circumstances under which peer victimization is deleterious and for whom, as well as potential protective factors that can be targeted for intervention.  Kathleen Miller, Maria Testa, Jaye Derrick, Joe Lucke and Amanda Nickerson (Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, Graduate School of Education, UB) are the Co-Investigators on the study. Funded by a grant of $1.8 million from NIAAA, 2013-18.

College Sports, Gender, and Substance Use

This study had two phases: first, an examination of longitudinal relationships between high school sports participation and substance use and other health-risk behaviors in college-age young adults; and second, the development of comprehensive measures of athletic involvement to be used to examine linkages among high school and college sports, gender, and substance use in college students. This study extended previous research by a collaborative working group comprised of Drs. Miller and Barnes, RIA, Michael Farrell, UB Department of Sociology, Merrill Melnick, SUNY College at Brockport, and Don Sabo, D’Youville College. Funded by a grant of $471,000 from NIDA, 2004-2008.

Sports, Gender, & Adolescent Substance Use

Grace Barnes and Kathleen Miller served as co-principal investigators on this project coordinating the research efforts of a team of collaborating scientists which included Dr. Michael Farrell, professor in UB’s Department of Sociology, Dr. Don Sabo, professor at D’Youville College and Dr. Merrill Melnick, professor at SUNY College at Brockport. Extending previous research by this group, the specific aims of the study included determination of the nature of relationships between sports and other specific extracurricular activities and substance use and other risky adolescent behaviors. Analyses indicated that adolescent sports participation buffers against some health-risk behaviors, such as tobacco use, illicit drug use, and suicidality, while exacerbating other health-risk behaviors, such as problem drinking. The effects of athletic participation also differed by gender: teenage girls involved in sports reported reduced levels of sexual risk-taking, while teenage male athletes reported elevated levels. Additional findings, including gender and racial/ethnic differences in relationships between athletic participation and health risks, were published in a number of journals: International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Sociology of Sport Journal, Substance Use and Misuse, and Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Funded by a grant of $462,000 from NIDA, 2000-2004.