Mentoring Profile: Stephanie Crowley McWilliam, PhD, Rush Medical College

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Stephanie Crowley McWilliam, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Rush Medical College, joined Rush in 2009.

Tell us about your background.

I grew up on the southern shore of Massachusetts. I was an undergraduate at the College of the Holy Cross, where I became involved with sleep research in the laboratory of Amy Wolfson, MD. In 2000, I graduated with a BA in Psychology and moved to Chicago, where I was a research assistant in the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory at Rush University under the direction of Charmane Eastman, MD. After three years as a research assistant, I moved back to the East Coast to go to graduate school. I earned a PhD in experimental psychology at Brown University under the mentorship of Mary Carskadon, MD, and many other wonderful scientists.

In 2009 I came full circle back to Rush, and I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, where I study sleep and circadian timing in humans. My research program is funded by the National Institute of Health and focuses on understanding basic circadian physiology and sleep behavior during adolescence, as well as on developing and testing strategies to correct circadian misalignment, the mismatch between sleep and the circadian system that is often experienced by teens in middle and high school.

What inspired you to get into your field?

I was inspired to join this field by experiences I had during my early college years and by mentors who encouraged me to seek out novel experiences.

What excited you about your work at Rush?

I love that I get to work with amazing people on the problem of insufficient sleep, which impacts a large majority of adolescents today.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

Mentoring is a great way to learn from other people’s experiences, and the only way you can learn from others is by asking, observing and keeping an open mind. We can never assume that we know it all. Sponsorship is critical to professional advancement, and sponsoring a mentee that doesn’t think or look like us can only enhance and diversify science and health care.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Don’t be afraid to talk to senior scientists in the field.

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I spend my free time with my husband and daughter.