Young Talent Attraction

Julie Wargo Aikins


Position: Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, and Clinical and Translational Science
Institution: Wayne State University
Previous Location: University of Connecticut
Research Interest: Risk and resilience in military families


“It is our duty to understand not only how our service members are coping with their deployment experiences…”

Julie Wargo Aikins, Ph.D., is an associate professor in Wayne State University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. She initially came to WSU to work with the Department of Clinical and Translational Science in conjunction with The Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute.

Wargo Aikins attracted students from around the country to participate in her research group at WSU, the only university in Michigan to offer a clinical and translational science track for students pursuing graduate degrees in public health. As a faculty member on the East Coast, she received approval for a $1.4 million grant from the Department of Defense, but chose to transfer the grant to Wayne State to take advantage of the resources at the Skillman Institute.


“I left the University of Connecticut to come to Wayne State, as the possibilities for collaboration open to me here were evident.”

“The Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute is a community of researchers all interested in child development from multidisciplinary perspectives. Wayne State is a community of scholars dedicated to understanding important research questions and pulling together scientists with different expertise to do so.”

The three-year study, which began in 2014, is examining the direct and indirect impact of service members’ psychological health problems post-deployment on the well-being of their young children. Ultimately, Wargo Aikins’ research aims to lay the groundwork for prevention and intervention programs to service members and their children.

“On average, the families in our studies have experienced at least two deployments. As we know, this generation of service members has experienced longer and more frequent deployments than any prior military generation,” Wargo Aikins said. “Therefore, it is our duty to understand not only how our service members are coping with their deployment experiences, but also how these separations and deployments are affecting their families. While many military families are resilient, there are families that struggle. We want to better understand which families do well, which do not and why. In turn, it is our hope that this research will inform treatment and intervention approaches that will help families in the future.”