Faculty and Staff Directory » Elizabeth Shirtcliff

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Elizabeth Shirtcliff

Title: Professor
Department: Human Sciences Administration / Food Science & Human Nutrition-H Sci

Office: 2361C Palmer, Ames, IA 50011-1084
Email: birdie@iastate.edu

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Research interests

The early environment shapes children’s well-being and health; early adversity is well-known as a risk factor for wide-ranging problematic outcomes. Yet, the human sciences still do not understand how early adversity “gets under the skin.” My work focuses on biobehavioral mechanisms that illustrate the profound impact that a child’s early environment exerts on their physiology. Researchers in my Stress Physiology Investigative Team (SPIT) Laboratory collect biomarkers noninvasively in humans. We examine stress-biomarkers like cortisol, bonding-biomarkers like oxytocin, development-biomarkers like testosterone, or immune-biomarkers like herpes simplex virus. Ultimately, the goal is to use biomarkers to point to what really matters: the child’s family and social environment.

Teaching interests

Dr. Shirtcliff teaches her signature “biomarkers” course which provides students with hands-on research opportunities conducting biobehavioral research at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  In addition, Dr. Shirtcliff teaches “grantwriting” for graduate students and “human sexuality” for undergraduate students.


For more information about Dr. Shirtcliff and the SPIT Laboratory, visit https://research.hs.iastate.edu/spit-lab/