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Molfese receives CEHS research career award

Victoria Molfese
Victoria Molfese

If there is one thing CYFS affiliate Victoria Molfese has learned over the course of her career, it’s that you don’t do research alone. The Chancellor’s Professor received this year’s Distinguished Research/Creative Career award, as CEHS recognized outstanding faculty and staff at an April 10 awards ceremony.

“I have a lot of collaborators,” Molfese said. “It’s rewarding to look back at all the work we’ve done together that has been published and to be acknowledged for this hard work.”

These collaborators, along with a strong sense of perseverance, contribute to Molfese’s steady pattern of research. She aims to be a supportive colleague, someone who can both lead and assist other researchers en route to publication.

“I want to help other people navigate the same challenges I’ve encountered while writing manuscripts,” she said. “It’s important to build on feedback, forge ahead and make it happen.”

This advice also sets the tone for Molfese’s current research projects. Both are focused on early childhood outcomes; one studies self-regulation and sleep in toddlers and the other investigates effective math professional development for preschool teachers.  On the latter project, she is partnering with Ruth Heaton, a professor of teaching, learning and teacher education, and Carolyn Edwards, a professor of psychology and child, youth and family studies.

“I keep finding interesting people to work with and people to learn from,” Molfese said. “UNL has many wonderful opportunities to collaborate across different departments. Here, when you suggest a project, people want to get started.”

Molfese came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010, along with her husband Dennis, director of UNL’s Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior. Research runs in the family; their son Peter does research in brain imaging and reading development, while son David is a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry.

“Dennis and I have been collaborators since we were in graduate school—from the start, we have done separate and joint work,” Molfese said. “Now our sons are reading our manuscripts and giving us feedback. We never imagined it would work out this way, and it’s exciting that our research is a family affair.”

CEHS faculty is, in a way, part of this family. The department’s annual awards reflect a commitment to encourage everyone’s success, but the recognition isn’t limited to a formal ceremony.

“I’ve noticed that whenever someone has specific accomplishments, people here take note and are proud of you,” Molfese said. “The belief is that if we have strong people, it builds us into a stronger department and university.”

2015 CEHS Award Ceremony and Reception: