Campus research spending grew 7.2 percent last year

Campus research spending increased 7.2 percent to $181.3 million during fiscal 2011, according to Michael Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement, who cited nanotechnology, new weather radar systems and international education among the areas attracting strong external support.

Overall, the five-campus UMass system spent $586.7 million during the same period, an increase of 8.1 percent or $44 million over the previous year, President Robert L. Caret told the Board of Trustees' Science, Technology and Research Committee on May 23.

"The innovations and discoveries happening on our campuses improve and save lives and nurture the kinds of creative industries that will keep the state competitive in the global economy, especially in regions outside of Route 128 where UMass performs over 90 percent of its research and development," Caret said. "We owe our success to the pioneering work of the faculty and students, the leadership of the chancellors and their teams, and the encouragement and guidance of the Board of Trustees.'"

Malone said most of the research funding came from the federal government through agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. But private partners, such as Massachusetts-based Raytheon, also contributed research support. Strong federal backing for research projects can help attract funding from the private sector, he said.

At the same time, Caret and Malone said state support, in the form of matching grants for research and development, has helped make UMass more competitive for federal funding. State monies were used to create nanotechnology centers in Amherst and Lowell.

Malone noted that not all research funding goes to science and engineering. One of the major federally funded campus projects involved a teacher training program carried out by the Center for International Education in the School of Education, which received an $8.1 million, multi-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2006.

A report prepared by the UMass system's Office of Institutional Research said UMass ranked third in the state in research and development expenditures, behind MIT and Harvard.

May 31, 2012.