UNL research funding climbs to nearly $106 million in 2007-08

Released on 08/04/2008, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., August 4th, 2008 —

External funding for research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln set a record again this year of nearly $106 million, according to the UNL Office of Research.

Research funding, which totaled $105.7 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, includes all external funds awarded for university research projects. Funding increased 3.2 percent from $102.4 million a year earlier. Of this year's total, $72 million came from federal sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, Department of Education and other agencies. The rest came from foundations, industry, associations and state agencies.

Total external funding for sponsored programs, which include funds for research and other activities, such as teaching, public service, student services and administration, also hit a record of $174.2 million, up from $171.8 million in the previous fiscal year.

UNL's research enterprise has grown significantly in recent years and external research funding has increased 115 percent since 2000, when research awards topped $49 million.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said research can be a major economic driver for Nebraska, generating discoveries and technologies with the potential to create new businesses and jobs. The university aims to build partnerships with private businesses and entrepreneurs to strengthen the state's economy.

"These funding increases reflect the growing capacity and stature of our research. That makes UNL an attractive partner for private-public ventures," Perlman said.

Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development, credited UNL's faculty for the record-setting research success. Donors who fund professorships and research facilities that help attract top faculty and students also play a key role in strengthening the university's research, he said.

"Our faculty are doing world-class research. They are leaders in their respective fields and their innovative ideas are driving exciting research at UNL," Paul said. "This creates great opportunities for our students, who get to work with and learn from these professors."

UNL researchers are addressing emerging challenges facing our state and nation, Paul said. One example is climate change. UNL and the U.S. Geological Survey have partnered to explore collaborative research to help the region adapt to a changing climate.

Examples of recently awarded major research grants that contributed to the funding increase include:

* $10.9 million from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources to fund the Redox Biology Center, which links biomedical scientists at UNL and University of Nebraska Medical Center

* $4.7 million from the Department of Defense Air Force Office of Scientific Research for research to develop ways to detect cracks in jet engines using UNL's powerful Diocles Laser

* $4.3 million to UNL from the National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research for research involving engineers and biologists at UNL, UNMC and Creighton University to better understand gene expression and regulation

* $3 million from the National Science Foundation to distribute a Nebraska-developed robotic-based math, science and technology curriculum via the Web to middle school teachers nationwide

* $2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education for a preschool literacy program for rural, low-income children in cooperation with the Grand Island Public Schools and Head Start Child and Family Development Inc.

* $2 million from the National Academy of Sciences for research to identify technologies and designs for longer-lasting bridges

* $348,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a digital dictionary of the Omaha and Ponca language

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

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