CORVALLIS, Ore. - In a year in which universities around the nation experienced significant declines in research funding, Oregon State University held its own, as faculty earned federal funding at a rate roughly even with last year's historic totals.

OSU researchers brought in $183.7 million in federal awards for fiscal year 2011, which closed June 30 - just $1 million less than the previous year. Funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and Department of Interior actually increased, offsetting declines from other agencies, as competitive grant funding available via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) ran out.

Federal funding, the most competitive arena for research awards, accounts for more than 70 percent of OSU scientific funding. ARRA dollars constituted about 10 percent of OSU's FY '10 research funds.

Overall, OSU researchers earned $261.7 million in external funding, compared to a record $275.1 million the prior year - a drop of $13.4 million, or 4.9 percent. Nationally, some research universities are reporting funding declines of 15 percent or greater, OSU research officials say.

In addition to answering pressing scientific questions, OSU research has a ripple effect throughout Oregon's economy. Some studies say every dollar invested in university research generates as much as four additional dollars in economic activity through wages and purchases of goods and services. By that measure, the university's research projects generated an economic impact of more than $1 billion.

"Even in years of reduced national funding for research, Oregon State University faculty members consistently outperform many of their peers in higher education, ensuring that we continue to grow in areas of strategic focus and enhance our position as the Oregon University System's leading research institution," said Edward J. Ray, president of OSU.

"I'm grateful for our faculty's diligent and entrepreneurial scientific work, both for the abiding good it accomplishes, including positioning the state for job growth and economic expansion, and for the opportunities it provides for our students to deepen their understanding of how to conduct scientific inquiry at the very highest levels."

Individual research projects funded in FY '11 targeted a broad range of issues important to Oregon, the nation and the world, from the impact of climate change on essential food crops to better understanding the health needs of seniors as the world population grows increasingly older. A selection of some of those projects is available via the OSU News and Research Communications website.

Other notable facts on OSU research success in FY '11 include:

  • The College of Agricultural Sciences continued its upward trajectory, taking in $58.2 million in research contracts and grants, up from last year's record total of $55 million. The increase came despite the fact that funding from the federal Department of Agriculture declined by $2.4 million to $36.1 million. The college's research portfolio is increasingly diverse in focus and funding.
  • Other colleges experienced smaller, but significant increases, as well, including Pharmacy ($2.7 million to $5.7 million), Public Health and Human Sciences ($14.8 million to $15.1 million) and Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences ($31.9 million to $32.2 million).
  • Research funding from private industry, an area in which OSU has targeted for growth, increased as a dollar amount (from $5.2 million to $5.4 million) and as a percentage of overall funding (1.9 percent to 2.1 percent). President Ray has projected that the university intends to grow that total to somewhere between 4 percent and 8 percent of overall OSU research funding by 2025.

The intentional growth represented throughout the year-end figures is, in part, a reflection of OSU's strategic plan. Implemented in 2009, the plan calls for increased emphasis on three signature areas of distinction: advancing the science of sustainable earth ecosystems; improving human health and wellness; and promoting economic growth and social progress. All three areas saw research funding growth in FY '11.

"As Oregon's land grant university with a deep commitment to the people of this state, OSU has disciplined itself to create a roadmap for future success, and it's gratifying to see that strategic plan continue to bear fruit," said Rick Spinrad, OSU vice president for Research. "Through the work of our faculty, OSU is increasingly known for its deep strengths in these areas and the contributions we're making to advance the frontiers of knowledge."

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Rick Spinrad, 541-737-0662