University research expenditures reported for the 2001-2002 fiscal year amassed to nearly $656 million – approximately 30 percent of the University’s $2.13 billion total budget – affirming the University’s standing as one of the nation’s leading research universities.

Paul Wong
Researchers work in a solid state laboratory in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building on North Campus.

Expenditures increased by 10.8 percent from the last fiscal year, marking the largest percent increase in more than 10 years, according to the report released at the end of September.

Preliminary expenditure figures for schools with the largest programs for research include the Medical School with $238 million; Engineering, $129 million; Institute for Social Research, $84 million; LSA, $54 million; and Public Health, $34 million.

Increased research funding from a number of private foundations and government organizations were a major factor in this year’s total expenditure increase. Funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health – which contribute nearly half of the sponsored program funding for research in the life sciences – increased by 17 percent.

Funding from government organizations rose by 12.4 percent as non-federal contributions rose by 9.2 percent.

“Our outstanding research performance attracts faculty of the highest quality and provides our students with a rich learning environment,” University President Mary Sue Coleman said in a written statement. “Our prominence as the nation’s leading research university supports the state’s economic infrastructure and serves as a powerful new magnet to new ventures.”

More funding for research not only denotes enhanced opportunities for faculty, but directly benefits research experiences for graduate and undergraduate students.

LSA senior Kristal Vardaman attributes her interest in research to programs like the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, which pairs students with faculty researchers. Vardaman said her research work with the Department of Medical Education was a strong influence in her decision to pursue a career in public health.

“Not very many schools offer undergraduate programs in research, so it was a great way to get involved in the school and to get to know a faculty member,” Vardaman said.

LSA senior Tiffany Buckley, who has been in the UROP program for four years, said that although she intends to pursue work in a non-science career field, her study of circadian rhythms has instilled her with skills that may be applied inside as well as outside of the laboratory setting.

“It definitely expanded my view of what I am interested in,” Buckley said. “UROP has helped me see that research is something I really want to do but not just in the laboratory setting.”

Vice President for Research Fawwaz Ulaby will give a full report on the University’s status of research at a Regents meeting later this year.

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