Evening view of the state capitol from Bascom Hill
Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison


Marilyn J. Essex, Ph.D.

Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Development
Department of Psychiatry
School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Marilyn Essex earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Medical Sociology at the University of Maryland and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Mental Health Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a joint program of the Departments of Sociology and Psychiatry. After serving on the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Lawrence University, she joined the University of Wisconsin's Department of Psychiatry in 1984 as a research scientist and subsequently joined the faculty in 2004. Throughout her career, the broad focus of Dr. Essex's work has been the processes linking life stress with health and functioning across the lifespan. Since its inception in 1989, she has been Co-Director of the Wisconsin Study of Families and Work, an ongoing longitudinal research program following a community sample originally recruited during the prenatal period for a study of maternity leave and health. As Principal Investigator, she has received numerous grants for interdisciplinary research to identify and examine the joint influences over time of social, psychological, and biological risk factors for the development of child and adolescent mental health problems (e.g., R01-MH044340, 1994-2003). This work was a major component of the NIMH-funded Wisconsin Center for Affective Science (P50-MH052354, 1993-2003; P50-MH069315, 2004-2008) and continues as a major component of that Center's successor, a Conte Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Brain, Behavior & Mental Health (P50-MH084051, 2008-2013). From 1996 to 2004, Dr. Essex served as a Scientific Core Member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Psychopathology and Development. She also has consulted on a number of large-scale studies of child development; is a regular peer-reviewer of grant applications, including having served on an NIH study section; is a frequent reviewer for a number of scientific journals; and serves on the editorial board of Psychoneuroendocrinology.

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