UNL external funding increases to nearly $172 million in 2006-07

Released on 08/16/2007, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., August 16th, 2007 —

External funding for University of Nebraska-Lincoln sponsored programs again hit new levels this year, according to the UNL Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

UNL's total sponsored programs funding, which includes funding for research and other activities such as instruction, public service, administration and student services, increased to $171.9 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, up from $165.9 million last year. Of that number, federal funding increased to $98.5 million, up from $95.3 million a year earlier.

"Increased external funding not only enables our faculty to make advancements in research and scholarship, it helps drives the research that fuels economic development in our state and provides intensive learning experiences for students," said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

Total research funding for UNL again broke the $100 million mark this year, but was down from last year's total of $104.7 million, topping out at $102.5 million. This reflects several years of flat funding at key federal funding agencies and the resulting fierce competition for research dollars, said Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research. Despite the difficult funding environment, Paul said UNL is still making progress, which is a tribute to the innovation and hard work of the faculty.

"Our researchers are national leaders in many fields and they are being recognized for their achievements not just with grants, but also with prestigious awards," Paul said. He cited civil engineer Dean Sicking's winning of the National Medal of Technology, which was awarded to him by President Bush at the White House in July.

A few of the recent large research grants contributing to the increase include:

* $9 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development for the Sorghum, Millet and other Grains Cooperative Research Support Program, which funds research in the United States and partner nations in Africa and Central America to develop productive crops and increase food security;

* $6.2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration, designating UNL's Mid-America Transportation Center as a regional University Transportation Center, with research focusing on highway and railway safety and efficiency;

* $2.5 million from the Department of Defense to develop applications of the high-intensity Diocles laser to "see through" metal to detect defects in jet turbines;

* $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education for family-centered program to help students stay in school;

* $885,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency to expand and enhance the UNL-developed Water Optimizer, a computer program that helps farmers make irrigation decisions.

Increased external funding at UNL was a major factor in improving the University of Nebraska's ranking nationally to 27th place among public universities in the National Science Foundation's survey of research and development expenditures for fiscal year 2005, the most recent year for which data was available.

In addition to funding research, instruction and service projects, external awards support many university functions, including libraries, the colleges, business and finance offices, regulatory compliance and technology transfer.

Paul said he sees the upward trend in funding continuing, citing key faculty hires and an increased awareness by all faculty of the importance of obtaining external awards to fund academic programs.

CONTACT: Prem Paul, Vice Chancellor, Research, (402) 472-3123