Dr. Sara Hart to hold Canada Excellence Research Chair in Developmental Science

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Faculty of Arts is very proud to share that Dr. Sara A. Hart will hold the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Developmental Science, based in the Department of Psychology. Announced today by the Government of Canada’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry, Hart is one of two new CERCs at Waterloo and among 34 new holders of the chair across Canada. She joins Waterloo as a full professor in spring 2024.

Dr Sara Hart

Hart is an expert in developmental psychology who is at the forefront of using precision education to understand how and why some children struggle to learn to read and do math. Her innovative research program uses cross disciplinary approaches, cutting-edge statistical methods, and open scientific practices. As the CERC in Developmental Science, Hart will apply genomics in educational settings to specify how genes and contexts work together to result in a reading and mathematically competent individual.

“We are thrilled to welcome Professor Hart to the Department of Psychology in spring 2024,” says Dr. Heather Henderson, professor and chair of the department. “Professor Hart is a prolific researcher whose interests lie at the intersection of developmental psychology, behavioural genetics, education, and cognitive science. Her research program will strengthen our existing expertise in these areas and serve as a catalyst for new collaborations within the Department, across campus, and in the community. Professor Hart’s commitment to open science and knowledge mobilization, as well as her advocacy for women and BIPOC psychological scientists aligns perfectly with the core values and strategic priorities of the Department and Faculty of Arts.”

According to the government announcement, CERC holders “establish research facilities in Canada and contribute to their institutions’ pursuit of excellence in research, train young scholars and scientists, and develop a new generation of world leaders.” As well, CERC research programs will “increase knowledge mobilization, develop lab-to-market innovations, and support economic and social advances to benefit countless Canadians.”

As a chair, Hart will advance research in precision education, a contemporary approach to tailor education to the specific characteristics of the individual student. The precision education approach is an ideal way to classify and treat learning disabilities and can be used as a framework for how we study children in classrooms to inform the everyday practice of education.

Waterloo also welcomes Dr. Renée Miller, who joins the Faculty of Mathematics as CERC in Data Intelligence. Hart and Miller join the Faculty of Engineering's CERC in Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence, Dr. Katja Mombaur.