Emma Adam

Dr. Emma K Adam

Professor and Chair, Human Development and Social Policy
Faculty Fellow , Institute for Policy Research

Annenberg Hall
Room 110
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-0001
Phone: (847) 467-2010


Emma Adam 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 the contributions of work, school, family and individual factors to physiological stress in adolescents and young adults and the implications of stress for child and adolescent behavioral, cognitive and emotional development. 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 current research projects examine 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 the executive functioning and academic performance of Chicago Public Schools students.

In addition to her Northwestern University affiliations, she 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 most recently the prestigious Curt Richter Award from the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (2013).    

Curriculum Vitae

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  • 2013 - Outstanding Professor Award, School of Education and Social Policy
  • 2013 - Curt Richter Award, International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology
  • 2009 - William T. Grant Scholars Award



Year Degree Institution
1998 PhD, Child Psychology University of Minnesota
1998 MA, Public Policy University of Chicago
1992 MA, Applied Developmental Psychology University of Toronto
1990 BS, Psychology University of Toronto

Selected Publications

Trawalter, S., E. Adam, P. L. Chase-Lansdale, and J. Richeson (2012). Concerns about appearing prejudiced get under the skin: Stress responses to interracial contact in the moment and across time. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48(3): 682–93.

Ludwig, J., L. Sanbonmatsu, L. Gennetian, E. Adam, G. Duncan, et al. (2011). Neighborhoods, obesity, and diabetes—A randomized social experiment. New England Journal of Medicine 365(16): 1509–19.

Adam, E., L. Chyu, L. Hoyt, L. Doane, J. Boisjoly, G. Duncan, L. Chase-Lansdale, and T. McDade (2011). Adverse adolescent relationship histories and young adult health: Cumulative effects of loneliness, low parental support, relationship instability, intimate partner violence and loss. Journal of Adolescent Health 49(3): 278–86 (NIHMS 260479).

Adam, E., L. T. Hoyt, and D. Granger (2011). Diurnal alpha amylase patterns in adolescents: Associations with puberty and with momentary mood states. Biological Psychology 88: 170–73.

Adam, E., L. Doane, R. Zinbarg, S. Mineka, M. Craske, and J. Griffith (2010). Prospective prediction of major depressive disorder from diurnal cortisol patterns in late adolescence. Psychoneuroendocrinology 35(6): 921–31.

Adam, E., and M. Kumari (2009). Assessing salivary cortisol in large-scale, epidemiological research. Psychoneuroendocrinology 34(10): 1423–36.

Adam, E. K., Sutton, J., Doane, L. & Mineka, S (2008). Incorporating HPA-axis measures into preventative interventions for adolescent depression: Are we there yet? in Development and Psychopathology (pp. 20 (3), 975-1001)..

Kudielka, B. M., Hawkley, L. C., Adam, E. K., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2007). Compliance with ambulatory saliva sampling in the Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study (CHASRS) and associations with social support. Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

DeSantis, A., Adam, E. K., Doane L., Mineka, S., Zinbarg, R., Craske, M. (2007). Racial/ethnic differences in cortisol diurnal rhythms in a community sample of adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health.

Pendry, P. & Adam, E. K. (2007). Associations between interparental discord, parenting quality, parent emotion and cortisol levels in adolescent and kindergarten-aged children. International Journal of Behavioral Development.

Adam, E. K., Snell, E. K. & Pendry, P. (2007). Sleep timing and quantity in ecological and family context: A nationally representative time-diary study. Special Issue on Sleep and Family Processes, Journal of Family Psychology.

Snell, E. K., Adam, E. K., & Duncan, G. J. (2007). Sleep and the body mass index and overweight status of children and adolescents. Child Development.

Adam, E. K., Klimes-Dougan, B., & Gunnar, M. (2007). Social regulation of stress physiology in infancy, childhood and adolescence: Implications for mental health and education in Donna Coch, Geraldine Dawson & Kurt Fischer, Human Behavior, Learning, and the Developing Brain: Atypical Development.

Adam, E. K., Klimes-Dougan, B. & Gunnar, M. (2006). Social regulation of stress physiology in infancy, childhood and adulthood: Implications for mental health and education in Coch, D., Dawson, G. & Fischer, K. , Human Behavior and the Developing Brain: Atypical Development Guilford Press.
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Adam, Emma Kristine (2006). Transactions among trait and state emotion and adolescent diurnal and momentary cortisol activity in naturalistic settings. Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol 31: 664-679.
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Adam, Emma (2005). Momentary emotion and cortisol levels in the everyday lives of working parents in Schneider, Barbara, Waite, Linda, Being Together, Working Apart: Dual Career Families and the Work-Life Balance (pp. 105-134). Cambridge University Press.
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Adam, E.K., Gunnar, M.R. & Tanaka, A. (2004). Adult attachment, parent emotion, and observed parenting behavior: Mediator and moderator models. Child Development: 75, 110–122.
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Adam, E. K. (2004). Beyond quality: Parental and residential stability and children’s adjustment. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13 (5): 210-213.
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Adam, E.K. & Chase-Lansdale, P.L. (2002). Home sweet home(s): Parental separations, residential moves and adjustment in low-income adolescent girls. Developmental Psychology: 38, 792–805.
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Adam, E.K. & Gunnar, M.R. (2001). Relationship functioning and home and work demands predict individual differences in diurnal cortisol patterns in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology: 26 (189–208).
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Research Interests

Social influences on emotional and physiological stress and sleep quality in children and adolescents and their parents; effects of stress and sleep on emotional and physical health and academic outcomes.



HDSP 401

Proseminar in Human Development and Social Policy This course aims to introduce graduate students to core theoretical and empirical work in human development and social policy. It is designed to offer first-year students in the Doctoral Program in Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) an in-depth overview of the intellectual foundations of the program and introduce students to the programs of research of HDSP faculty. HDSP focuses on lifespan development and the life course from multiple perspectives, emphasizing the influence of historical periods, the timing of events, changing roles, and how individuals shape their own pathways in addition to being influenced by individuals around them, by social institutions, and by public policy. HDSP is a multidisciplinary program bringing to bear anthropology, biology, education, economics, political science, psychobiology, psychology, social epidemiology, sociology, and other disciplines to understand human development and policy. HDSP focuses on those contexts that are essential in shaping life trajectories and opportunities—families, neighborhoods, schools, the workplace, and the realm of local, state, federal, and international policies. Students will examine the entailments of taking human development and social policy frameworks to examine social phenomena. They will also consider what makes a human development and social policy framework unique in the study of key social policy issues. Students will also consider the core disciplinary perspectives that inform research in HDSP. Each week students will consider the entailments of a particular disciplinary perspective (e.g., economics, sociology) in framing research in human development and social policy. A central part of this work will involve discussing with core HDSP faculty their research as framed from a particular disciplinary perspective. Our goal in this class is to develop students’ ability to think about pressing social issues (e.g., inequality) from a multi-disciplinary perspective that attends both to human development and social policy.

HDSP 415

Nature/Nurture Revisited, Effects of Experience on Biology Nature (genetics and biology) vs. Nurture (environmental experience) are no longer considered two opposing explanations for human developmental outcomes. Rather, theorists recognize that both are important, and attempt to understand how these two forces work together in development. Gone are the days when the measurement of genetic and biological factors in relation to development are considered “biological determinism” – such a stance is untenable in the face of overwhelming evidence of the malleability of biological systems in response to environmental experience. Recent research has demonstrated that, rather than human biology determining human behavior and experience, human biology is exquisitely sensitive to environmental input, both during the development of biological systems and throughout the lifespan. Humans, as social organisms, are in fact DESIGNED to be exquisitely sensitive to our environments. Who we are as individuals is the result of a dynamic interaction between genetic and biological predispositions and ongoing experiences with environments ranging from our immediate families and communities to broad political and cultural forces. In this course, we will discuss theoretical models and data regarding the interplay between genes and experience in development, including gene-environment correlations, gene-environment interactions, and epigenetics, and theoretical models for the interplay between biology and ecological conditions, such as life-history theory. We will learn some basic facts about brain development, stress physiology, and immune functioning, and will examine environmental and developmental influences on these systems in a variety of settings. Special emphasis is placed on the psychobiology of stress, a major pathway by which socio-emotional experience affects the body. Examples from all stages of the lifespan (prenatal development, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and aging) will be presented. Implications for developmental and health outcomes, and for public polices regulating human environments are considered. Would prefer 317, or 347


Editorial Boards

Year Journal Name Position
2011 Child Development Perspectives Editorial board
2007 Child Development Editorial board
2005 Journal of Adolescent Health Editorial board

Last Updated: 2016-01-08 15:00:01