Portrait of Victoria Moerchen

Victoria A. Moerchen, PT, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Associate Dean, Graduate School

Speaker Topics

  • Motor Development and Developmental Motor Control
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy Curricula
  • Treadmill Use With Children
  • Evidence-based Practice
  • Motor Development and Ventilation

Interests & Expertise

Victoria Moerchen’s research has both a basic science and a translational trajectory, where each intentionally informs the other. The basic science component of her work is aimed at understanding developmental transitions and emergent motor control during infancy and toddler development. She is particularly interested in early sensorimotor integration and socio-motor interaction with the environment.

The translational component of Moerchen’s research is aimed at enhancing social interaction and physical activity in infants with neuromotor delays, with a particular interest in clinical populations with global developmental delays, including spina bifida, Down syndrome and autism.

Moerchen’s scholarship marries developmental and motor control theory with clinical reality, and the ecological slant to her work is increasingly shaped by family-systems perspectives. Having worked as a clinician for 15 years in early intervention prior to her research career, she is interested in addressing not only the issues of how to get infants more active and walking earlier, but also how best to deliver this intervention in a way that is both efficient and ecologically relevant to the natural course of early development. At present, Moerchen utilizes an infant treadmill paradigm to examine basic science and clinical questions.

Current research collaborators include Rachel Schiffman (Nursing, UWM) and Paula Rhyner (Communications Sciences and Disorders, UWM).

Recent Funded Grants

The UW-Milwaukee Pipeline Training Initiative
$814,984, 06/2016 – 05/2021
CFDA #93.110 HRSA 06-077. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Director: Moerchen

Targeting parent-child interaction to promote the healthy development of infants in the motor domain
$24,951.00, Funding period: 7-2014 thru 12-2015 (extended to 6-2016).
College of Health Sciences, Stimulus Program to Accelerate Research Clusters (SPARC Award).
Principal Investigator: V. Moerchen, PT, PhD
Co-PI: Rachel Schiffman, PhD, RN
Co-Investigators: K. Barnekow, PhD, OTR; P. Rhyner, PhD, CCP-SLP

Impact of motor task on treadmill stepping
$10,000, 01/2010 – 08/2011
College of Health Sciences, UWM, Stimulus for Extramural Enhancement & Development Program.
Principal Investigator: Moerchen
Co-Investigator: P. Rhyner

Pre-Professional Clinician-scholars: Introducing undergraduates to both sides of translational research in maternal and child health
$10,000, 10/2009 – 6/2012
Office of Undergraduate Research UWM
Director: V. Moerchen
Co-directors: P. Rhyner and S. Lund.

Sensorimotor development: Infants born with spina bifida
$1,303, 557 (total costs), 04/2006 – 02/2011.
National Institutes of Health – NICHD, R01-HD047567
Principal Investigator: Beverly Ulrich;
Co-Investigators: V. Moerchen & B. Martin.

Scientific Activities

  • Ad hoc manuscript reviewer for 6 peer-reviewed journals: Pediatric Physical Therapy; Child Development; Journal of Neurophysiology; Journal of Motor Behavior; Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
  • Ad hoc grant reviewer for NIDRR, field initiated grant proposals, 2010-2011.
  • Research Chair, Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, 2009-2015.
  • Invited comment on the NIH, NICHD Research Plan for Down syndrome, 2007.