Ellen Wartella, PhD

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Communication, Northwestern University

Ellen Wartella is the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Communication, Professor of Psychology, Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Professor of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University. She also directs the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University. She is a leading scholar of the role of media in children’s development and serves on a variety of national and international boards and committees on children’s health and wellness issues.  

Currently, she is a member of the Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity at the Institute of Medicine.  She chaired the Institute of Medicine’s  Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols (2009-2011) and she was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Advancing Progress on Obesity Prevention study committee (2011-2012).  

She was co-principal investigator of the Children’s Digital Media Center project funded by the National Science Foundation (2001-2012) and was co-principle investigator on the National TV Violence Study (1995-1998). She has published widely in communication and psychology journals on children’s media issues.

Wartella earned her Ph.D in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and completed her postdoctoral research in developmental psychology in 1981 at the University of Kansas. She was dean of the College of Communication at the University of Texas from 1993 to 2004 and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of California-Riverside from 2004 to 2009. Before joining the faculty at Northwestern in March 2010, she was Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Riverside.

Wartella currently serves on the Board of the World Summit Foundation, the Academic Advisory Board of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the advisory boards of the Rudd Center on Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity at Yale University and the Center on Media and Children’s Health at Harvard University. She is a Trustee of Sesame Workshop and serves on the PBS Advisory Board on children and television. She is a past member of the Board on Children, Youth and Families at the National Academy of Sciences and served on the National Academy of Sciences/ Institute of Medicine’s Study on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth (2006). Wartella is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development and is past president of the International Communication Association.