University of Richmond Psychology Professor Kelly Lambert Among Three Finalists For $250K National Teaching Award

Lambert Will Present Cherry Award Lecture on Brain Sculpting at UR in October
September 21, 2023

Kelly Lambert HeadshotUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND ─ University of Richmond psychology professor and behavioral neuroscientist Kelly Lambert is one of three professors chosen for one of the most prestigious teaching awards in the country.

Lambert is the only finalist east of the Mississippi for Baylor University’s 2024 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. This $250,000 national award for exceptional teaching is the single largest monetary reward presented by a college or university.

“Many major awards focus on research and scholarship, which are critically important, but it’s wonderful that there’s an award that acknowledges teaching, which has always provided my personal biggest return on investment,” said Lambert, the MacEldin Trawick Professor in Psychology.

Lambert and her undergraduate research students explore the neurobiology of stress, resilience, depression, parenting, and natural enrichment. Her rodent driving research and science outreach program has been featured in more than 1,500 media stories and highlighted in two documentaries, including one on Netflix.

Cherry Award finalists receive $15,000 and $10,000 for their home department. Each finalist presents a series of lectures at Baylor in addition to a lecture on their campus.

The Cherry Award lecture at the University of Richmond is Oct. 2 at 4 p.m., Queally Center, Breed Pavilion B. The event is free and open to the public. Lambert’s lecture topic is “Brain Sculpting: Stranger than fiction tales of neuroplasticity.”

“Brains change from the womb to the tomb, so it is important to understand how various experiences guide the life-long modifications of our neural networks, a process known as neuroplasticity,” Lambert said.

Having completed brain research working with rats, mice, raccoons, monkeys, and Madagascar mouse lemurs, Lambert will present a series of surprising examples of neuroscience research. As part of her presentation, she will also share findings related to recent, preliminary work focused on cultivating positive emotions through positive experiences, including attempts to make rats — and hopefully humans — more optimistic in their world view.

The Cherry Award recipient, which will be announced in spring 2024, will receive $250,000 and an additional $25,000 for their home department. They will also teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2024 or spring 2025.

“Kelly brings curiosity, creativity, keen intellect, awareness of how students learn, and inclusive approaches to support every learner,” said Linda Boland, associate provost for faculty who nominated Lambert for this award. “She’s the definition of a great teacher.”

“I’m deeply honored to be recognized as a finalist for this award, especially because it included letters of reflection from not only my peers but current and former students,” said Lambert. “This recognition ultimately highlights what they have accomplished.”