Sandra Scarr Biography

Sandra Wood Scarr (born August 1936) is an American psychology professor.

Sandra was the child of school teacher Jane Powell Wood and of John Ruxton Wood, a US Army physician, who in 1942 was appointed director of Army Research Laboratories at Edgewood Arsenal and who in 1950 headed the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Sandra spent most of her childhood in the Chesapeake Bay area and went to the Bryn Mawr School for Girls and the National Cathedral School. After completing her undergraduate studies at Vassar College in 1958, where she was involved in undergraduate research led by Harriet Zuckerman, Sandra worked for a couple of years first at a family and child service and then at National Institute of Mental Health as a research assistant. In 1960 she enrolled at Harvard University, from where she earned her Ph.D. in psychology in 1965, specializing in developmental psychology and behavioural genetics. During graduate school, she married fellow sociology student Harry Scarr with whom she gave birth to a son Phillip in 1962.

Though she initially had a difficult time finding a job because she had a child, she eventually taught at the University of Maryland, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota, and Yale University. In 1983 she accepted a position as chair of the psychology department at the University of Virginia, where she remained until retirement.