OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU research surpasses $275M; total has doubled in past decade

07/29/2010

Editor's note: A chart representing annual research funding for OSU from 2000-2010 is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/4838459189/sizes/l/.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University earned more than $275 million in scientific contracts and grants in 2009-10 – an amount roughly double what OSU attracted in research funding only 10 years ago, university leaders announced today.

That annual total grew by $23 million over the $252 million in research funding the previous year, which itself represented a $21 million leap over the prior year. The growth reflects greater success with federal funding agencies, grants from which represent nearly $185 million of the total.

While federal funding grew, so did support from other key areas, most notably private industry, where funding expanded by 55 percent to nearly $5.25 million. That increase is especially welcome as part of an ongoing university initiative to increase private-sector research partnerships, particularly with Oregon companies on projects addressing issues of importance to the state and its residents.

“Our faculty raise the bar and set new records year after year as they relentlessly expand and deepen the impact of our university’s research program, competing and succeeding at the highest levels in academia,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “Our efforts in earth ecosystems, health and wellness and economic progress and throughout the arts and sciences provide a strategic focus for our research endeavors that contribute not only to our overall success, but toward growing recognition of the excellence of our faculty in these areas.

“Oregonians can rightly take pride in the standard that our scientists and scholars are setting with this unprecedented success.”

This year’s growth was due almost entirely to a surge in competitive awards, funding for which expanded significantly at the federal level through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Proposals at some agencies that had previously been turned down for lack of available funding were reconsidered with new monies available, and OSU researchers earned $28 million in competitively awarded ARRA funding for projects backed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Dept. of Energy, the U.S. Forest Service and the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA awards to OSU were up by 35 percent over 2008-09 totals, helping external funding for research at the College of Agricultural Sciences to grow by $11 million to more than $55 million, leading all OSU colleges. The college is rated no. 1 nationally for the frequency with which its research is cited by peer scientists in published studies.

Growth in research funding at the College of Engineering totaled $12 million and increased its overall contracts and grants to nearly $36.7 million. Engineering particularly benefitted from increased support from the Dept. of Energy, funding from which doubled to $19 million.  And the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences continued to expand its research efforts, adding $2 million to its total to finish the year at just under $32 million.

Among the many projects and individuals behind the university and college totals:

  • Institute for Natural Resources Associate Director Lisa Gaines and College of Forestry Executive Associate Dean Steve Tesch received a $3.4-million award from the U.S. Forest Service to assess watershed-level land management actions and how they affect wildfire severity, wildlife habitats, climate change and local economic development. The Integrated Landscape Assessment Project team of more than 50 people will focus on all lands in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Linus Pauling Institute principal investigator Rod Dashwood got first-year funding of $1.3 million from the National Institutes of Health for a five-year comparative study of the mechanisms of cancer chemoprevention.
  • Robert Paasch, director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, received two awards from the U.S. Dept. of Energy --$2.3 million for construction of a mobile ocean test berth in Newport that will be the first and only facility in the nation for testing full-size wave energy converters and $2.5 million for the second and third years of funding for the center itself.
  • The OSU Sun Grant Initiative, led by Jan Auyong, earned nearly $2.2 million in continued federal funding. In addition to its status as a federal Sun Grant campus, OSU is one of only two U.S. universities to also hold land, space and sea grant designations, as well (the other is the Ivy League’s Cornell).

“This continuation of the impressive growth in OSU’s research is reflective of the extraordinary skill and intellect of our faculty,” said Rick Spinrad, OSU’s new vice president for research. “I am increasingly impressed by the caliber and diversity of research being conducted at OSU.”

Spinrad, who recently joined OSU after a long research management career in Washington with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Navy, said he had been accustomed to “slow or minimal growth in research budgets, especially during the recent economic slowdown. So seeing 10 percent growth in OSU research funding over the past year is particularly noteworthy.”