Report Shows Increase in External Research Support

Researchers in UConn’s Storrs-based programs last year brought in more than $100 million in awards, a 9 percent increase compared to 2007.

The increase came despite the fact that faculty submitted 178 fewer funding requests in 2008 than in the preceding fiscal year.

The increase is documented in the 2008 Report of Sponsored Project Activity.

“This development marks a significant upturn in the size of the extramural portfolio at UConn, after experiencing several years of status quo funding levels,” says Michael Crouch, executive director of the Office for Sponsored Programs and assistant vice provost for research.

“With increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary research activities at the University, this trend will hopefully be sustained.”

The bulk of the funding, $78.1 million, came from the federal government, including more than $23 million from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health. Other major funding agencies included the National Science Foundation ($16.1 million), the USDA ($11.9 million), the Department of Education ($6.8 million), and the Department of Defense ($6.6 million).

Non-federal funding, including state grants, contracts with industry, and grants from foundations and non-profit agencies, increased 14 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, to $23.8 million.

“This is quite an achievement, because federal funding has been flat the last two years,” says Suman Singha, vice president for research and graduate education and dean of the Graduate School.

“It speaks very highly of our faculty and, when you consider the stimulus bill, we are well positioned to see continued increases in our federal grants.”

According to Crouch, total grant funding for the first six months of the current fiscal year has increased by 8 percent compared to the first six months of fiscal year 2008.

“We have every reason to be modestly optimistic as we look forward through fiscal year 2010,” Crouch adds.

Crouch and Singha cite the University’s strengths in stem cell research, alternative energy, including fuel cells, health, and the environment as reasons to be optimistic, as well as the changing attitude in Washington.

“The Obama administration has placed greater emphasis on research, so following the stimulus bill, we expect to see increases in funding for the agencies from which we get grants,” Singha says.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences led the University’s schools and colleges in proposals, seeking nearly $210 million in grants, followed by the School of Engineering with proposals worth $102 million.