Julia Jaekel is an associate professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies as well as the co-director of the Early Experiences Research Center (EERC). She has been at UT since 2015 and was elected to the Faculty Senate last August.
She earned her diplom—a five-year degree—in clinical psychology; her doctorate in psychology, and her habilitation—higher doctorate—in developmental psychology, all from Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany.
Along with teaching classes and having weekly meetings with graduate students, Jaekel researches how babies develop over the long term. She tracks her subjects through adulthood, looking at factors such as environment, developmental risks, sensitive parenting, and friendships.
Why this field
She chose to study developmental psychology because she was very interested in what helps humans develop to their full potential and what can be done to put them on healthy and successful trajectories.
Jaekel has her hands full being a mom to three boys and their rescue puppy. As a family they enjoy going hiking in the Smoky Mountains and camping at state parks including Frozen Head State Park.
When she lived in the United Kingdom as a postdoc, she had the opportunity to go to many shows at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which was only 20 minutes from where she lived. This was something she enjoyed very much and has missed since she moved to Knoxville.
Favorite TV show
She enjoys watching Game of Thrones with her husband, Nils. Jaekel said she finds it interesting how human nature is depicted in the show.
If she didn’t do this
Growing up, she used to want to be a veterinarian.
Still on her bucket list
After she retires, she would like to be a professional cuddler at a children’s hospital.
Advice to her college-age self
Trust that you are doing the right thing and be persistent.”
Jaekel was born and raised in Germany. She moved to Knoxville two and a half years ago to work at UT. Jaekel enjoys living in Knoxville due to its proximity to the mountains and its friendly people.