Emma Adam is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. She is a developmental psychologist with an interest in applying theory and research on human development to informing policies and programs aimed at improving the wellbeing of children, adolescents, and young adults. She is an expert in the developmental psychobiology of stress and sleep.
Adam studies how everyday experiences in the lives of children, adolescents and young adults impact their stress biology, with implications for emotional health, physical health and academic outcomes. She also examines social influences on sleep in children and adolescents, and the implications of variations in sleep timing and quality for health and performance. Her research projects have examined the role of stress, stress hormones and sleep in the development of mood and anxiety disorders in adolescents and young adults; racial/ethnic disparities in stress and the impact of perceived discrimination on stress hormones, sleep and health; the impact of early adverse relationship experiences on biological stress and health in young adults; and how variations in stress and sleep affect executive functioning and academic performance. Adam and her collaborators are currently implementing a series of randomized control trial intervention projects designed to reduce stress and or promote positive outcomes in youth, including a meditation intervention, an app-based mindfulness intervention, a mentoring intervention, and an intervention designed to promote positive ethnic identity development in youth.
In addition to her Northwestern affiliations, Adam is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Research on Adolescence, and the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology. She is the recipient of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship (2003–04), a William T. Grant Scholars Award (2004–09), and the Curt Richter Award from the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (2013). She is President-Elect of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (2020-2023).