Julie holds the Dorothy A. O’Brien Professorship in Human Ecology at the School of Human Ecology and Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research focuses on the role of family relationships in the development of resilience in high-risk infants, toddlers and preschoolers. She is interested in how emerging relationships interact with biological and environmental vulnerabilities in shaping the cognitive and social emotional development of children who experience a range of risks. Julie's research emphasizes how children and parents make contributions to their relationships with each other, rather than emphasizing parental characteristics like much of the existing attachment research. Her findings bridge attachment theory with ecologically-based transactional developmental theories.
Julie also serves as an advisor to Sesame Street on their Emmy-nominated initiative for children with incarcerated parents. She has served as a psychology supervisor in the Waisman Center’s Developmental Disabilities Clinic and teaches a service learning course in conjunction with campus and community early childhood education centers. Julie has consulted with Wisconsin Public Television on an outreach effort for families struggling with methamphetamine addiction and worked with Madison Area Urban Ministry to evaluate their mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents.
Julie is particularly interested in improving the self-regulation and empathy of high-risk children and their parents. Toward this end, she is conducting randomized controlled trials of interventions using contemplative practices for preschoolers and parents of young children.