Despite the many challenges of the past year, Utah State University’s research funding reached a new record high during the 2021 fiscal year, with researchers receiving awards totaling $368.5 million. This growth represents a 26 percent increase from last year.
USU’s total funding includes $124.5 million generated by researchers on campus, as well as $244 million in contracts and grants from USU’s Space Dynamics Laboratory.
“During the past 18 months, our faculty have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic with a spirit of opportunity and innovation,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “They created new and expanded systems to educate students, and they found creative ways to continue and grow their research projects and programs. To add a record year in research funding to those successes is truly outstanding.”
About one-third of USU’s overall revenues come from research funding, with a little more than half of that coming from competitive federal sponsors outside the state. External funding augments other revenue sources, including state appropriations and student tuition.
One of the most significant new grants was awarded by the National Science Foundation to Regan Zane of the College of Engineering to establish the Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE) Center. The center will use the funding to conduct research related to the mass adoption of electric vehicles.
SDL has a number of large research projects. It was recently awarded a contract to provide a constellation of small satellites that will enable NASA unprecedented views of the sun. NASA’s Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment mission, known as SunRISE, is designed to observe powerful solar storms which have broad implications for life on Earth and beyond.
"A record year in funding provides us an opportunity to better address the societal factors that are impacting Utahns specifically, and the rest of the world broadly,” said Vice President for Research Lisa Berreau.
Utah State's Extension programs, which bring USU research directly into Utah’s communities, more than doubled its award money year-over-year. Paul Hill received more than $1 million from the United States Department of Commerce to foster remote work environments, particularly in places that have suffered the most economic hardship from COVID-19.
The Rural Online Initiative (ROI) program, managed by Hill, will teach organizational leaders how to develop remote work plans in addition to providing recovery training for future natural disasters and economic shocks, ensuring that Utah stays globally competitive.
Funding from private sponsors increased by $5.3 million in the past year and was spread across many campus programs. The antiviral research group, which was active in COVID-19 treatment research, was a driving force for that funding.
“I am impressed and grateful to see a record-breaking year in research funding,” Berreau said, “and none of it would be possible without our faculty who are dedicated to making a better world.”