UNL research funding at $132.2 million


Funding for University of Nebraska-Lincoln research totaled $132.2 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, according to the UNL Office of Research and Economic Development.

Officials said this represents a slight decrease from $139 million the previous year, and was expected in the year following a significant influx of one-time federal stimulus funding.

Through the one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, UNL received research awards totaling $24.9 million, with nearly $17 million coming during the 2010 fiscal year. If these one-time stimulus funds are excluded from the university's total research funding, 2011 marked another year-to-year increase in total research funding.

"The stimulus funding enabled us to take on important research projects and significantly improve our research facilities and infrastructure. That's a long-term payoff," said Prem S. Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development. For example, ARRA funding enabled construction of an addition to the Ken Morrison Life Sciences Center, home to the Nebraska Center for Virology, to be completed in 2013; provided support for the new Nanoscience Metrology Facility, slated to open next spring; financed expansion of UNL's high-powered laser research facilities, to be finished in 2012; and funded sophisticated instruments and other research equipment.

"While we always prefer to see our research funding growing each and every year, this was no surprise," Paul said. "We expect many universities nationwide will be in the same boat."

UNL's longer term research growth continues to be impressive, he said. Since 2000, UNL's research funding has increased more than 168 percent. UNL also achieved a long-standing goal of exceeding $100 million in federal research awards for the first time this year. Total research funding from federal sources was $107.7 million, a 239 percent increase since 2000.

"This growth represents our faculty's achievement of an ambitious goal we set just a few years ago," Paul said. "It shows that UNL is a research university on the map and that our faculty researchers are consistently demonstrating leading-edge research and scholarship."

UNL's federal research awards represent direct and pass-through funding from federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities and others. This is the first year UNL has included federal pass-through funding in its federal research funding totals. This is a common practice among research universities, including those in the Big Ten.

"Our trajectory of success exceeds that of most major research universities and we expect it to continue with increased opportunities for collaboration among Big Ten universities," UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said.
Total research funding includes all external funds awarded for university research. Major research awards included:

• $11.1 million from the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR program to create and support the Center for Nanohybrid Functional Materials and the Nebraska Coalition for Algal Biology and Biotechnology.

• $5.8 million from the Department of Defense Army Research Office for research on nanoscale magnetoelectronic devices.

• $5.6 million from the National Institutes of Health to support research on viral diseases affecting plants, animals and humans at the Nebraska Center for Virology.

• $4.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education through Ohio State University to support UNL education researchers' contributions to a nationwide initiative to improve children's reading comprehension.

• Nearly $4 million from the Department of Defense Air Force Office of Scientific Research to develop software for military applications.

• Nearly $1.2 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to enhance the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and to expand the University of Nebraska Press' offerings.

- Vicki Miller