Sandra Waxman

Sandra R. Waxman

Professor, Learning Sciences
Professor, Psychology

Swift Hall
Room 211
2029 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-2705
Phone: (847) 467-2293
Fax: (847) 491-7859

Sandra Waxman is a professor of psychology with a joint appointment in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Harvard University until beginning her affiliation with NU in 1997. She is an APA Fellow and an APS Fellow, and is a recent recipient of both a Cattell Award through the American Psychological Society and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

Professor Waxman’s research focuses on two areas of study: biological thought and culture, and early linguistic and conceptual development. Recent work in biological thought explores how notions of the natural world unfold -- across development, across cultures, and across languages, exploring fundamental questions, including, “What is the place of humans within the natural world?,” “What does it mean to be ‘alive’?,” and “How do children across cultures develop these concepts?” Professor Waxman’s research in Linguistic and Conceptual Development employs both developmental and cross-linguistic evidence. Both are essential in discovering the origin of infants' early expectations, identifying which might be universal, and specifying how these are shaped by experience with the native language under acquisition. This basic research may serve as a springboard for assessing young children being raised in bilingual environments and those with specific language impairments.

Department of Psychology webpage
2005 - American Psychological Society Fellow

2004 - Visiting Professor. Paris, France. Ecole Normale Superieure.

2002 to Present - Society for Language Development. Executive Board.

2002 - American Psychological Association Fellow. Division 3.

2000 - Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Nominee.

1998 - American Psychological Association Fellow. Division 7.

1994 to 1996 - Wender-Lewis Research and Teaching Professorship, Northwestern University.

1990 - Boyd R. McCandless Young Scientist Award Nominee. APA Division 7.

1989 - The Spencer Foundation and The National Academy of Education. Research Fellowship.

1986 - The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Post-doctoral Fellowship, Harvard

1985 to 1986 - American Association of University Women. Doctoral Fellowship.


Year Degree Institution
1985 PhD University of Pennsylvania
1981 MA Johns Hopkins University
1976 BS University of Pennsylvania

Selected Publications
Arunachalam, S. & Waxman, S.R (2010). Meaning from syntax: Evidence from 2-year-olds. Cognition: 442-446.

Waxman, S. (2010). Names will never hurt me? Naming and the development of racial and gender categories in preschool-aged children. European Journal of Social Psychology: 593-610.

Ferry, A., Hespos, S., & Waxman, S. (2010). Categorization in 3- and 4-Month-Old Infants: An Advantage of Words Over Tones. Child Development: 472-479.

Waxman, S.R., Medin, D.L. & Ross, N. (2007). Folkbiological reasoning from a cross-cultural developmental perspective: Early essentialist notions notions are shaped by cultural beliefs. Developmental Psychology: 294-308.

Waxman, S.R., Medin, D.L. (2007). Experience and Cultural Models matter: Placing firm limits on anthropocentrism. Human Development: 23-30.

Waxman, S.R., & Lidz, J. (2006). Early word learning in Kuhn, D., Siegler, D., Handbook of Child Psychology (pp. 299-335). Wiley.

Waxman, S.R. (2006). Finding the points of contact: Language acquisition in children raised in monolingual, bilingual and multilingual environments in McCardle, P., & Hoff, E., Child Language and Child Development Muntilingual Matters.

Fulkerson, A.L., Waxman, S.R. & Seymour, J.M. (2006). Linking object names and object categories: Words (but not tones) facilitate object categorization in 6- and 12-month-olds in Bamman, D., Magnitskaia, T., Zaller, C., Supplement to the Proceedings of the 30th Boston University Conference on Language Development Cascadilla Press.

Fennell, C.T. & Waxman, S.R. (2006). Infants of 14 months use phonetic detail in novel words embedded in naming phrases in Bamman, D., Magnitskaia, T. & Zaller, C., Proceedings of the 30th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 178-189). Cascadilla Press.

Research Interests
Language and conceptual development, early cognitive development, language and thought.


Employment History
1992 1997 Northwestern University
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology.
1991 1992 Harvard University
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education.
1989 1992 Harvard University
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology.
1986 1992 Harvard University
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology.

Last Updated: 2011-11-07 20:26:38