Julia S. Seng, PhD, CNM, FAAN

Julia Seng

Associate Dean for Strategic Affairs
Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership
Room 3220 400NIB

University of Michigan School of Nursing
400 North Ingalls Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5482

Telephone: (734) 647-0152
Fax: (734) 647-0351
Julia Seng is accepting new PhD students.


  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Childbearing outcomes
  • Oxytocin
  • Childhood abuse trauma
  • Midwifery

Dr. Seng’s research focuses on the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on women’s health and childbearing. Her projects approach this topic from a variety of perspectives. She used qualitative, participatory action research to understand women’s experiences and to inform intervention development. Epidemiological analyses have established that PTSD is associated with pregnancy complications and worse physical health across the lifespan for women. Clinical studies currently are examining neuroendocrine and genetic pathways that link PTSD to preterm birth, lower birth weight, and pregnancy complications. Clinical trial testing of a psychoeducation program for women with abuse-related PTSD, known as the “Survivor Moms’ Companion” are underway in the US and Australia.

In addition to studying PTSD, Dr. Seng is working with collaborators in a new trajectory focusing on studies of oxytocin in relation to health outcomes in women.

Current Research Grants and Programs:

  • Psychobiology of PTSD & Adverse Outcomes of Childbearing (NIH, PI)
  • Survivor Moms’ Companion Intervention Pilot (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, PI)
  • Health Effects of Helping Others (NSF, Co-I)


Dr. Seng is an experienced teacher, having become a nurse after teaching French at the university and high school levels. She is currently teaching in both the School of Nursing and the Department of Women’s Studies. She particularly enjoys teaching research methods—for nurse researchers and for non-scientists—including doctoral courses on measurement and qualitative methods. Courses in the women’s health doctoral track which she teaches often include students from outside the School, including graduate students in public health, psychology, social work, women’s studies, and sociology, living out the University’s commitment to interdisciplinary training for students.

Students Dr. Seng mentored have been successful at publishing papers on their own or as a member of the research team. Mentees at all levels, from Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program research assistants, to Honors students in Nursing and Biological Psychology, to Master’s students in Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work, to PhD students in Nursing and Psychology, to junior colleagues contribute from diverse standpoints.

Affiliations / Service

  • Member, American College of Nurse Midwives
  • Member, International Society for Studies of Trauma and Dissociation
  • Member, Midwest Nursing Research Society
  • Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Childbirth
  • Editorial Board Member, Psychological Trauma: Research, Teaching, Practice, and Policy
  • Editorial Panel Member, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health

Notable Awards / Honors

  • Fellow, American Academy of Nursing, 2009
  • Book of the Year, American College of Nurse Midwives, 2009
  • Visiting Professorships, University of Melbourne, Australia 2008; University of Sheffield, England 2008, University of Illinois, Chicago 2007
  • Referee of the Year, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 2008


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 2001
  • PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1999
  • MS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1995
  • BSN, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 1991
  • MA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1985
  • BA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1983

Publication Highlights

  • Seng, J.S., Kane Low, L.M., Sperlich, M., Ronis, D.L., Liberzon, I. (2011) Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with lower birth weight and shorter gestation. British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. In press for July 27, 2011.

  • Seng, J.S., Kohn-Wood, L.P., McPherson, M.D., Sperlich, M. (2011). Disparities in trauma history and posttraumatic stress disorder in a community sample of pregnant women. Archives of Women’s Mental Health 2011 May 15 Epub ahead of print.

  • Lopez, W.D., Konrath, S., Seng, J.S. (2011). Abuse–related posttraumatic stress, coping, and tobacco use in pregnancy. Journal of Obstetric Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 2011 June 3 Epub ahead of print.

  • Seng, J.S., Sperlich, M., Rowe, H., Cameron, H., Harris, A., Rauch, S.A.M., Bell, S.A. (2011). The Survivor Moms’ Companion: Open pilot of a posttraumatic stress specific psychoeducation program for pregnant survivors of childhood maltreatment and sexual trauma. International Journal of Childbirth 1, 122-135.

  • Sperlich, M., Seng, J.S., Rowe, H., Cameron, H., Harris, A., Rauch, S.A.M., McCracken, A.K. (2011). The Survivor Moms’ Companion: Feasibility, safety, and acceptability of a posttraumatic stress specific psychoeducation program for pregnant survivors of childhood maltreatment and sexual trauma. International Journal of Childbirth 1, 111-121.

  • Seng, J.S. (2010). Posttraumatic oxytocin dysregulation: is it a link among posttraumatic self disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and pelvic visceral dysregulation conditions in women? Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 11, 387-406. (Honorable Mention for JTD’s Best Paper of the Year.)

  • Kulkarni, M.R., Graham-Bermann, S., Rauch, S.A., Seng, J.S. (2010). Witnessing Versus Experiencing Direct Violence in Childhood as Correlates of Adulthood PTSD. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2010 May 21. Epub ahead of print.

  • Seng, J.S., Rauch, S.A., Resnick, H., Reed, C.D., King, A., Low, L.K., McPherson, M., Muzik, M., Abelson, J., Liberzon, I. (2010). Exploring posttraumatic stress disorder symptom profile among pregnant women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 31, 176-87.

  • Hamama, L., Rauch, S.A., Sperlich, M., Defever, E., Seng, J.S. (2010). Previous experience of spontaneous or elective abortion and risk for posttraumatic stress and depression during subsequent pregnancy. Depression and Anxiety, 27, 699-707.

  • Seng, J.S., Kane Low, L.M., Sperlich, M.I., Ronis, D.L., Liberzon, I. (2009). Trauma history and risk for PTSD among nulliparous women in maternity care. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 11I4, 839-847.

  • Sperlich, M., Seng, J.S. (2008). Survivor Moms: Women’s Narratives of Birthing, Mothering, and Healing after Sexual Abuse. Eugene (OR): Motherbaby Press.

  • Seng, J.S., Sperlich, M., with Dunbar, S. (2009). Survivor Moms’ Companion. Copyright by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

  • Seng, J.S., King, A.P., Gabriel, C., Reed, C.D., Sperlich, M., Dunbar, S., Fraker, E., Ronis, D.L. (2008). Ecological salivary cortisol specimen collection--Part 1; Methodological consideration of yield, error, and effects of sampling decisions in a perinatal mental health study. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 14, 273-284.

  • King, A.P., Leichtman, J.N., Abelson, J.L., Liberzon, I, Seng, J.S. (2008). Ecological salivary cortisol analysis-Part 2; Relative impact of trauma history, posttraumatic stress, comorbidity, chronic stress, and known confounds on hormone levels." Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 14, 285-296.

  • Seng, J.S., Schrot, J., van de Ven, C.J.M., Liberzon, I. (2007). Service use data analysis of pre-pregnancy psychiatric and somatic diagnoses in women with hyperemesis gravidarum. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 28, 209-17.