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 pathways that link PTSD to preterm birth, lower birth weight, and pregnancy complications.  Implementation study of a psychoeducation program for women with abuse-related PTSD, known as the “Survivor Moms’ Companion” is underway.

Current Research Grants and Programs:

  • Trauma-informed Practice Certificate for Prospective Teachers, Social Workers, and Nursing. Whitaker Award, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. Role: Co-I. This project will develop and pilot a professional mini-certificate in trauma-informed practice and leadership for education, nursing, and social work students.
  • Survivor Moms’ Companion (SMC) Perinatal Intervention/ NY Implementation. Health Foundation of Western and Central New York. Role: Co-I. This project advances the Survivor Moms’ Companion intervention through the ‘installation’ phase of implementation with champion sites in Melbourne, Boston, and Buffalo. The funding also supports the website and book design costs.
  • Testing the Survivor Mums’ Companion as part of Blackpool’s Better Start. Centre for Early Childhood Development / NSPCC / Blackpool. Role: PI. This is a hybrid effectiveness-implementation science study conducted in the city of Blackpool, England. The implementing organization (and funder) is the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Our university partner for the effectiveness component is the University of Birmingham.


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. 

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
  • Mae Edna Doyle Teacher of the Year, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 2014


  • 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., Li, Y., Yang, J.J., King, A.P., Kane Low, L., Sperlich, M., Rowe, H., Lee, H., Muzik, M., Ford, J.D., Liberzon, I. (2018). Gestational and postnatal cortisol profiles of women with posttraumatic stress disorder and the dissociate subtype. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 47(1):12-22.

  • Li. Y., Seng, J.S., (2018). Child maltreatment trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and cortisol levels in women: a literature review.  Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 24(1):35-44.

  • Rowe, H.M., Sperlich, M., Cameron, H., Seng, J.S. (2014). A quasi-experimental analysis of a psychoeducation intervention for pregnant women with abuse-related posttraumatic stress. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 43(3):282-93.

  • Seng, J.S., Lopez, W.D., Sperlich, M.I., Hamama, L., Reed Meldrum, C.D. (2012). Marginalized identities, discrimination burden, and mental health: Emperical exploration of an exploration of an interpersonal-level approach to modeling intersectionality.  Journal of Social Science & Medicine, 75(12):2437-45.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

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

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

    Professor Seng co-developed with Dr. Mickey Sperlich a trauma-specific intervention for women who are pregnant or in the early months of parenting. The Survivor Moms’ Companion will be available starting in early 2019 via the Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute.  Find out more:  https://survivormoms.org/,  Book sites: https://midwiferytoday.com/product/survivor-moms-womens-stories-of-birthing-mothering-and-healing-after-sexual-abuse/, https://www.dunedinacademicpress.co.uk/page/detail/Trauma-Informed-Care-in-the-Perinatal-Period/?k=e201400516031675.

  • 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.