NCFR Recognizes Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth for Outstanding Scholarship

Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth

It is with distinct pleasure that the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) announces Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth, Ph.D., CFLE, as the 2022 recipient of the Ernest W. Burgess Award, which acknowledges the achievements of an NCFR member in their outstanding impact and commitment to the study of families. The recipient is selected by NCFR’s Research and Theory Section in recognition of continuous and meritorious contributions to the area of theory and research in the family field.

Ernest W. Burgess, the namesake of this award, co-founded NCFR and was the organization's fourth president. He was a pioneer in his contributions to marriage and family research.

Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth is a distinguished professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University, where she also directs the Military Family Research Institute and the Center for Families. Her research primarily focuses on the relationship between job conditions and family life, with a special focus on military families.

Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth’s research has significantly advanced knowledge on the impact of workplace characteristics, policies, and practices on workers and their families. Specifically, she has studied how work environments impact worker well-being and family relationships, including relationships between spouses and between parents and children.

Recognizing a lack of published Family Science articles on military and veteran families, Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth convened international research symposiums to encourage more scholars, while continuing her own research inquiries. She has also worked with fellow family scholars and practitioners to develop resources for military families. One recent project, “Families Tackling Tough Times Together,” was designed to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth was named an NCFR Fellow in 2005, is a recipient of the Work Life Legacy Award from the Families and Work Institute, and was named a “Top 10 Extraordinary Contributor” among work-family researchers worldwide. She has served on federal advisory committees for the Department of Defense and the National Academy of Medicine and has testified in the U.S. Congress regarding military and veteran families. In recognition of outstanding career achievements that have had an impact on society, Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth received the Morrill Award, Purdue University’s highest faculty honor, and Purdue’s LuAnn Aday Award, recognizing major scientific impact.

In his letter of nomination, Dr. Adrian Blow writes, “Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth has produced a breadth of groundbreaking and significant research focused on contributing to the understanding of families and their interactions with work conditions. Her own research, as well as her dedicated efforts to promote research about military families have not only helped to expand the literature but also led to policy changes that impact the lives of military members, veterans, and their families. She is most deserving of the Burgess award.”

Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth was recognized for her achievement at the 2022 NCFR Annual Conference where she gave a special address titled "Addressing the Wicked Problems of Family Science.”

The National Council on Family Relations is the premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families. NCFR has a membership of nearly 3,000 family researchers, practitioners and educators. For more information on the National Council on Family Relations or its scholarly publications, visit the NCFR website at