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Research Interests

As an overarching goal of my career, I seek to leverage knowledge from both evolutionary biology and developmental science to address core issues in developmental psychopathology, especially in relation to child and adolescent health. This work employs life history theory to model stress-health relations over the life course.  A major emphasis of my research has been the development of Biological Sensitivity to Context theory and its recent extension the Adaptive Calibration Model, which focus on how our biobehavioral systems respond to specific features of family environments and the larger ecological context.  My empirical work examines the impact of fathers, family relationships, and socioecological conditions on children’s biological stress responses, timing of pubertal development, risky adolescent behavior and cognition, and related health outcomes.  In addition to this basic research, I am interested in real-world applications in the form of theoretically-based interventions.  For more information about my research, please click on the above links to specific projects.

Opportunities for Students

He works with students interested in studying developmental adaptations to stress.

Selected Publications

Del Giudice, M., & Ellis, B.J. (2016). Evolutionary foundations of developmental psychopathology.  In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology, Vol. 2: Developmental Neuroscience (3rd Ed.) (pp. 1-58). New York: Wiley & Sons.

Bjorklund, D.F., & Ellis, B.J. (2014). Children, childhood, and development in evolutionary perspective. Developmental Review, 34, 225–264.

Ellis, B.J., Del Giudice, Dishion, T.J., M., Figueredo, A.J., Gray, P., Griskevicius, V., Hawley, P.H., Jacobs, W.J., James, J., Volk, A.A., & Wilson, D.S. (2012).  The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: Implications for science, policy, and practice. Developmental Psychology. 48, 598-623.

Ellis, B.J., Boyce, W.T., Belsky, J., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., & van IJzendoorn, M.H. (2011).  Differential susceptibility to the environment: An evolutionary- neurodevelopmental theory. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 7-28.


Susan Brener

Last Updated: 6/4/21