CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University research funding reached $336 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30 – a second consecutive year of record-breaking growth and an increase of more than 60 percent over the past decade.
In 2006, the university garnered $209 million from state, federal and private-sector sources. Since then, OSU has received research revenues totaling more than $3 billion. In the last year, Oregon State researchers brought in $27 million more from all sources than they did in 2015, a 15 percent increase in competitive federal grants and an overall 9 percent increase.
OSU accounts for more research funding than nearly all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined.
“Our researchers deserve all the credit for this amazing accomplishment,” said Cynthia Sagers, Oregon State vice president for research. “They have stepped up to the challenge of securing research funds that support our programs and our students, and create an impact on Oregon, the nation and the world.”
Through salaries, student stipends and expenditures, Oregon State research generates an annual societal and economic impact of about $762 million in the state and globally, based on an assessment conducted in 2015 by ECONorthwest.
Ongoing projects funded last year include:
- Shannon Lipscomb at OSU-Cascades in Bend, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, is leading a four-year, $1.5 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to train teachers to work with children exposed to trauma such as abuse, neglect, parental mental illness or parental substance abuse.
- With grants totaling $227,000 from the Simons Foundation, Angelicque White and Laurie Juranek in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, are collaborating with scientists from the University of Washington, MIT, the University of Hawaii and the University of Southern California on a research project in the remote North Pacific Ocean. Preliminary results suggest that changes in the ratios of nitrogen, carbon and other nutrients lead to distinct shifts in microorganisms, affecting climate and the growth of plants and animals that live in the sea.
- With a $2 million grant from the U.S. Army, Joseph Beckman, distinguished professor in the Linus Pauling Institute and the College of Science, is developing a potential ALS treatment cased on copper ASTM. He has demonstrated that this compound in mice can halt the progression of what is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- With a $1.4 million grant from the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, the College of Engineering has been developing improvements to plastic injection molding processes and investigating the use of biopigments for digital printing on fabric. The aim in both initiatives is to increase manufacturing competitiveness by reducing waste and boosting energy efficiency.
OSU researchers undertook projects to study and manage forests, coastal waters and other natural resources; to protect human health by identifying new treatments for infectious diseases; and to support communities and businesses by solving problems in food, energy and water systems.
Scientists are developing new ways to deliver education in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — and tracking the performance of students learning English as a second language.
Success, Sagers added, is due in part to collaborations among researchers across disciplines in areas such as robotics, marine sciences and information technologies.
“Working with people outside one’s own field can lead to real advances in knowledge and innovation,” Sagers said. “We’re seeing progress in unmanned aerial systems for agriculture, forestry and infrastructure inspections, in genetic testing to understand disease and improve food security, and in software for environmental monitoring and crop improvements.”
Research results are finding their way into businesses, fueling economic growth. For example, two newly formed companies — Agility Robotics and e-MSion, Inc. — have grown out of OSU labs with help from the Oregon State University Advantage program and RAIN, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network.
Agility Robotics is developing the second generation of a bi-pedal robot with funding from the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. E-MSion is driven by an advance in mass spectrometry, a workhorse technology in research labs worldwide. The company aims to transform this high-end research tool into an easy-to-use appliance and hire 20 to 30 employees within five years.
Among funds received in 2016 were the following:
- $5.3 million from the Agricultural Research Foundation for projects to enhance the productivity and sustainability of food and ornamental crops across the state
- $2.8 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, focusing on undersea eruptions, fisheries and acoustic techniques for monitoring marine mammals and other animals
- $1.2 million for the Long Term Ecological Research program at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, emphasizing environmental responses to climate change
- $3 million for design and bid preparation for two to three new regional class coastal research vessels
- $1 million from Oregon BEST for 17 sustainability projects in wood science, engineering and agriculture
- 11 NSF CAREER Awards to jumpstart research programs by young researchers in engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry and statistics
- 35 grants over $1 million, for projects ranging from biomass fuels for the Northwest and plant genetics to changing Arctic and North Atlantic Ocean conditions, aquaculture, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, STEM education and health risks of air pollution
Funds provided by federal agencies increased over what was received in 2015 from the Department of Commerce, up 72 percent; Department of Energy, up 69 percent; Department of Defense, up 39 percent; and Department of Health and Human Services, up 30 percent. Total federal funding grew from $185 million last year to more than $212 million in 2016.
State appropriations for land grant funding — money that supports work in agriculture, wood products, engineering and other fields —increased by $7 million, from $61 million in 2015 to $68 million in 2016. Funds are being used to hire experts to work with farmers, ranchers and others on issues from water quality and disease control to food safety and value-added manufacturing.