John Schulenberg

In Memoriam: John Schulenberg, esteemed research professor and mentor

February 15, 2023

John Schulenberg

John Schulenberg

John Schulenberg, Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, passed away on February 9, 2023. His many colleagues, collaborators, and mentees are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our friend, John.

Dr. John Schulenberg was a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and served as Associate Director of the Institute for Social Research’s Survey Research Center (2003-2006 and 2010-2014) and President of the Society for Research on Adolescence (2014-2016). He was a member of the Monitoring the Future (MTF) leadership team for 32 years. MTF is an integrated epidemiological and etiological research program that examines current prevalence levels and long-term trends in substance use behaviors and attitudes among adolescents and adults in the US. The project has been funded continuously by the National Institute on Drug Abuse for nearly five decades and serves as a primary source of national data on historical, developmental, and cohort-related changes in substance use and its correlates. From 2017 to 2022, John served as the Principal Investigator for the MTF Panel Study, following nationally-representative samples of 12th grade students longitudinally from ages 18 to 60.

John earned his BA in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati in 1979 and his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University in 1987. His first faculty position was as an Assistant Professor of Adolescent Development in the Department of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. John moved to University of Michigan in 1991, finding his research home at the Institute for Social Research, where he spent the remainder of his career.

John published widely on topics related to psychosocial development from adolescence through adulthood. He proposed conceptual models of how common developmental transitions in work, relationships, and achievement across adolescence and the transition to adulthood set the stage for differential trajectories in health and well-being across the life course. His scholarly career brought a developmental perspective to theory and research on substance use and psychopathology, while also bringing a broad population perspective using large-scale survey data to developmental psychology. He enjoyed collaborating and mentoring and viewed supporting early- and mid-career scholars as a key part of his contribution to the field. John will be remembered for his devotion to formally and informally mentoring dozens of scholars, enthusiasm for inter-disciplinary collaboration, and passion for developmental science.

John was a wonderful father. He is survived by his wife, Cathleen Connell, and children Clayton and Franny. He relished coaching youth baseball and softball teams for many years. His warmth, generosity, and humor will be deeply missed.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

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