Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University
Chair, Department of Communication Studies
Director, Center on Media and Human Development School
Topics of Expertise: Child Welfare / Children & Adolescents / Health & Illness
Ellen A. Wartella is a leading scholar of the role of media in children’s development. She is the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Communication Studies, Chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University. Before moving to Northwestern in 2010, she was Executive Vice Chancellor, Provost and Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, from 2004–2010. Wartella was dean of the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin from 1993–2004, where she also held the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair, the Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair, and the UNESCO Chair in International Communication.
She received a B.A. with honors from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, and M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. She then taught at Ohio State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before assuming the Texas deanship.
The author or editor of 12 books and approximately 200 book chapters, research articles, technical reports and research papers, Wartella is currently co-principal Investigator on a 5-year multi-site research project entitled: “Collaborative Research: Using Educational DVDs to Enhance Young Children’s STEM Education (2013-2018) from the National Science Foundation. She also is co-Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation grant entitled “Media Characters: The Unhidden Persuaders in Food Marketing to Children (2013-2016). She was a co-principal Investigator on the National TV Violence Study (1995–1998) and a co-principal investigator of the Children’s Digital Media Center project funded by the National Science Foundation (2001–2006) and the IRADS Collaborative Research: influence of Digital Media on Young Children (2006-2011 from NSF. She currently edits Social Policy Reports for the Society for Research in Child Development.
She chaired the Front-of-Package Marketing study committee of the Institute of Medicine (2009-2011), served on the Advancing Progress on Obesity Prevention study committee (2011-2013) and the Study of Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth (2006). She serves on the Board of Trustees of Sesame Workshop and the National Educational Advisory Board of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Board of the World Summit on Children and Media and the Board of the Public Good Projects. During 2006-2007 she was the Inaugural Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development and is the past President and Fellow of the International Communication Association. She received the Steven H. Chaffee Career Productivity Award from the ICA, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Communication Association and the Krieghbaum Under 40 Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She received the 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award for Alumni of the University of Minnesota. Ellen Wartella researches the effects of media on children and adolescents, and the impact of food marketing in the childhood obesity crisis. She is particularly interested in addressing public policy questions about children’s use of media and technology.