By Jenna Somers
Megan Saylor, professor of psychology and human development, has been appointed chair of the Department of Psychology and Human Development, beginning July 1, 2023. She replaces Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Anita S. and Antonio M. Gotto Chair in Child Development and professor of psychology and human development, who led the department as chair from January 2019 to June 2023.
Saylor joined Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development in 2001 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2009 and full professor in 2020. Saylor is director of the Peabody Scholars Program and outgoing chair of the Integrative Sciences Committee at the Institutional Review Board for the Vanderbilt Human Research Protection Program. She also served on the University Committee on Teaching and has supported Peabody College in numerous roles for more than two decades.
“Meg Saylor has made important contributions to the field of child development and psychology, and her dedication to teaching and mentoring has enriched the lives of countless Peabody students. I look forward to her decisive leadership as department chair and working with her to advance the priorities of the Department of Psychology and Human Development,” said Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development.
Saylor is an international expert on children’s learning and development, especially in how infants and young children understand language and human behavior. Her research explores how infants process the absence of people and objects, how children learn from people, especially through social contexts that may support or hamper learning, and how they apply what they know about others’ minds to understand what people mean.
Saylor became a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2020. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and serves on the editorial boards for Cognition and Development and Collabra: Psychology.
Along with being a leading researcher in her field, Saylor is an outstanding educator, celebrated by her colleagues and students. In 2022, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier presented Saylor with the Chancellor’s Cup for exemplary teaching and mentorship of undergraduate students and for connecting students with other faculty mentors. That same year, she also was awarded the Provost’s Faculty Grant for Culminating Projects in Immersion to support mentorship of students completing immersion projects. Additionally, in 2021, she received the Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching.
“I look forward to serving in my new role as chair and am grateful for the support of my colleagues,” Saylor said. “As we prepare for the next academic year, I am eager to further collaborate with faculty, students, and staff in the department to continue developing and implementing initiatives that strengthen the equity, diversity, and inclusion of our community.”
Saylor also plans to focus on supporting the integration and development of faculty new to the department and enhancing efforts in graduate and undergraduate teaching and research.
Saylor earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1996 and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon in 1997 and 2001, respectively.