CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University scholars earned more than $231 million in external research funding in 2007-08, a near 11 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. The $25 million jump continued an upward trend in OSU research funding, which has grown by some $75 million over the past five years.
The overall increases for the recently concluded fiscal year were not concentrated in a single area or two, but represent research funding growth in nearly every OSU college. Researchers at the College of Science experienced the most growth of any individual area, with contracts and grants increasing to $20.7 million, up $5.6 million from the prior year. The College of Engineering recorded a similar surge, with funding increasing to nearly $22.9 million – a spike of about $5.3 million.
Research funding at the College of Health and Human Sciences grew to $15 million, up $3.7 million. And the College of Agricultural Sciences and the agricultural experiment stations garnered a whopping $37.6 million in funding, growing by some $3.4 million.
In total, the university expended more than $195 million on research activities in 2007-08 – more than in any prior year and up some $4 million from 2006-07. (Expenditures are based largely on previous-year awards.)
“Oregon State University scientists are not only highly competitive with their peers nationally in earning research funding, but are recognized for the quality of their studies by scientists who cite OSU research in conducting their own work,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “The Carnegie Foundation has recognized that success by making OSU the only Oregon university ranked in its top tier for research universities, and it is extremely gratifying to see how our faculty members have built upon that reputation in the recently completed fiscal year.”
Among the 1,279 awards earned by OSU researchers in 2007-08 – up from 1,242 last year – was a $1.5-million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education to College of Health and Human Sciences researcher Brian Flay, a professor of public health. The funding will cover expansion of a long-term study of a social and character development program for elementary and middle school students to determine how effective the program is at changing behaviors.
Another example of new funding is a $1.07-million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Dan Roby, a professor in OSU’s highly ranked Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife Management, for research on the impact of Caspian terns on juvenile salmon in the Columbia River Estuary. The research seeks to relocate the largest Caspian tern colony in the world to Crump Lake north of Lakeview, Oregon, where it is believed the birds would have a much lesser negative effect on those endangered fish.
Also included in the $231 million total are funds for critical equipment. For instance, OSU’s Hinsdale Wave Laboratory – the largest research facility of its kind globally – received $1.13 million from the National Science Foundation for a new “wavemaker” that is key to additional studies on coastal hazard research. Likewise, a research group headed by College of Science professor Rich Carter earned a $711,000 NSF grant for a 700MHz nuclear resonance spectrometer and $400,000 from the Murdock Charitable Trust to purchase additional spectrometers. The new equipment significantly increases OSU’s capacity for complex chemistry research, as well as studies in related disciplines.
“Federal grants represent the most competitive funding arena for sponsored research, and those awards make up 60 percent of our competitive external funding,” said OSU Vice President for Research, John Cassady. “Those awards can and often do include funding for scientific equipment, so they are not only important to the research project at hand, but to growing OSU’s capacity for research in general.”
In related news, OSU inventions earned nearly $2.6 million in licensing or “technology transfer” income for the university, up from $2.5 million last year. Such income has grown by more than $1.1 million over the past five years. OSU also reported 70 invention disclosures last year, almost double the 37 disclosures from 2003-04.
The university earns licensing revenue from, among other things, patented varieties of wheat and other crop plants and such high-tech innovations as transparent electronics being used to create a new type of solar energy cells.