Nebraska has another record-breaking year for research expenditures

Ashley Washburn, March 29, 2019

Nebraska has another record-breaking year for research expenditures

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln achieved a record $308 million in total research expenditures for the 2018 fiscal year, a key growth indicator that reflects advancements in agriculture, education, materials research and virology — all high-priority research areas.

The milestone marked a 2 percent increase from the previous record of $302 million achieved in FY 2017. Total research expenditures reflect the amount invested annually on research and development activities from sources internal and external to UNL, and are one indicator of the university’s ability to engage in high-quality, innovative research.

“Our record-setting research enterprise is a testament to our faculty’s commitment to delivering on our land-grant commitment to research and discovery that matters to Nebraska,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “We do not rest on our strengths here – we are building on our research leadership in key areas so we can make an even bigger impact in the future.”

Over the past decade, Nebraska has achieved a 25 percent increase in total research expenditures. The university’s goal is to approach $450 million in total research expenditures by 2025.

“Increased research expenditures are a strong indicator of faculty achievement and recognition. Our aspirations to become an even more prominent public research university are in sight,” said Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development.

The university received $265 million in externally sponsored awards in FY 2018. Of that, $171 million was sponsored by federal agencies, a 12 percent increase from the previous fiscal year and a 49 percent increase over the past decade.

The university’s top sources for federal funding include the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health.

Nebraska received the following major research grants and contracts in FY 2018:

  • $11.3 million from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to operate the state’s Child Protection and Safety Training program for child welfare employees.
  • $7.1 million from NSF and Semiconductor Research Corp. to develop materials that could lead to improved memory and logic devices.
  • $5.8 million from NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research to track how higher nighttime temperatures affect crop yields.
  • $3.9 million for a research collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • $3.8 million from the NIH’s National Cancer Institute to develop a research program with virologists from Zambia, UNL and the University of Nebraska Medical Center to investigate Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer often associated with AIDS.
  • $3.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education to test the efficacy of an intervention program designed to improve the emotional and behavioral skills of at-risk elementary students. While the program has been tested in urban classrooms, researchers are investigating its feasibility for rural settings.

WRITER: Ashley Washburn, Office of Research and Economic Development