The University of British Columbia’s Janet Werker is an internationally-acclaimed scientist whose transformative work reshaped the study of spoken language. One of the world’s leading developmental psychologists, she is Canada Research Chair in Psychology and director of UBC’s Infant Studies Centre. Colleagues and students alike know her as a world-class researcher, outstanding teacher and valued mentor.
Janet Werker is the recipient of SSHRC’s 2015 Gold Medal.
Over the course of a 30-year career, Werker has fundamentally changed how we understand language acquisition. Her work has shown that the foundations of language begin in early infancy, and that the acquisition of two or more languages from birth comes as naturally as learning a single mother tongue. In so doing, she has had enormous influence on child development, parenting, education and clinical practice, both in Canada and around the world. The concept of very early language learning—even before birth—is now understood as a baseline in the field.
Werker’s stature as a researcher is reflected in a remarkable publication record, numerous international speaking invitations and noteworthy record of awards and fellowships.
She has received UBC’s Alumni Prize for Research in the Social Sciences, Killam Research Prize and Jacob Biely Research Prize (the university’s top research award). She is a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Psychological Association, The American Psychological Society, the Cognitive Science Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.