Social scientist Anna Mueller receives Waterman Professorship for work addressing youth suicide

Indiana University sociologist Anna Mueller has been named a Luther Dana Waterman Professor at IU Bloomington.

Anna MuellerView print quality image
Anna Mueller. Photo courtesy of the College of Arts and Sciences

Mueller, who joined the IU Bloomington faculty in 2019, is known for her research on health, particularly on youth suicide and the impact it has on schools and communities. Since 2007, the suicide rate for youth in the U.S. has been steadily increasing, as has school violence. Mueller's research focuses on identifying the social roots of adolescent suicide and suicide clusters, as well as evidence-based school and community strategies to promote youth well-being and reduce suicide.

In 2020, Mueller was awarded the Shneidman Early Career Award from the American Association of Suicidology and was named to Science News' list of the Top 10 Scientists to Watch, selected for their "potential to shape the science of the future." She has published widely in journals such as the American Sociological Review. Her book "Life Under Pressure: The Social Roots of Adolescent Suicide," co-authored with Seth Abrutyn, will be published by Oxford University Press.

"I am deeply honored to receive a Waterman Professorship," said Mueller, who is currently an associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Sociology. "It is a wonderful recognition of the importance of social science to solving pressing social problems like youth suicide. I am also excited as this professorship will provide seed funds for me to pursue collaborations with Indiana public schools, which will be part of my latest research project aimed at improving our understanding of youth suicide clusters and building more efficient, equitable and sustainable mental health safety systems in schools."

The Waterman Professorship originated in 1915, when Luther Dana Waterman, a professor emeritus at the IU School of Medicine, gave a large gift to Indiana University to sustain fundamental scientific research.

Richard Shiffrin, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington, has held a Luther Dana Waterman Professorship since 1980. Mueller will hold a second professorship based on the Waterman endowment, established specifically to encourage early-career scientists who have recently received tenure. The second Waterman Professorship provides recipients with $25,000 per year over five years. Amar Flood, the James F. Jackson Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, held the professorship from 2015 to 2020.

Making strategic investments in promising researchers is a key to keeping the campus's research community robust, said Jeff Zaleski, interim vice provost for research at IU Bloomington.

"Luther Waterman would surely be honored to know that his bequest is advancing the outstanding leadership Professor Mueller is providing in the field of adolescent suicide," Zaleski said. "Her contributions to scientific scholarship and to the IU Bloomington community are already deeply valued, and I very much look forward to seeing where her research takes her over the next five years and beyond."

The second Waterman Professorship is supported by IU Bloomington's Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Office of the Provost.

"During her brief time on our campus, Anna Mueller has already made an important impact on her colleagues and in her field," said Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president. "Her research on the many factors that contribute to youth suicide shed light on a crucial issue that often isn't addressed through existing high school programs and staffing. Her contributions to the field could quite literally save lives."