Iowa State's external funding reaches $280 million in FY 2006

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University generated $280 million in grants, contracts and cooperative agreements during fiscal year 2006.

The $280 million is a decrease of 2.5 percent from the previous year's record high of $287 million. The most significant percentage decreases were in building funds ($4.4 million) and financial aid ($2.9 million).

The external funding includes all contracts and grants that Iowa State received directly from federal, state and local governments, corporations and foundations. This funding is used for research, public service/extension activities, educational projects, student financial aid, buildings and equipment. Funding for research alone totaled $171 million.

Iowa State first topped $200 million in external funding in fiscal year 2000 when the university attracted $211.2 million in external support.

"Iowa State faculty and staff continue to attract significant external support to the university's mission of creating, sharing and applying knowledge," said Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy. "These funds reflect confidence in the expertise at Iowa State. They enhance the university's academic programs. And they advance the university's work to strengthen the economy of Iowa."

John Brighton, Iowa State's vice provost for research, said the university is taking steps to boost external research funding. Iowa State offers grant-writing workshops for researchers, assistance in submitting funding proposals and help for new faculty launching research programs. He also said Iowa State researchers see a lot of potential for grants to study biorenewable fuels, chemicals and products.

"Research funding is increasingly competitive and we must continue to be aggressive in the pursuit of research funding and support of faculty in these activities," Brighton said.

This past fiscal year (July 2005 through June 2006), Iowa State's total support from federal agencies was $166.4 million. The largest contributors were the U.S. Department of Agriculture ($51.6 million); the U.S. Department of Energy, primarily to the Ames Laboratory ($33.0 million); the National Science Foundation ($26.7 million); the Department of Health and Human Services ($18.7 million); the Department of Education ($13.0 million); and the Department of Defense ($9.1 million). The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Education reflected the largest decreases in federal funding, $6.9 million and $4 million respectively.

Support from non-federal sources was $113.3 million, an increase of $8.2 million. The largest contributors were state, county and city government agencies ($39.3 million); foundations and associations ($28.6 million, which included $14 million for construction of new buildings); businesses and corporations ($28.6 million); and other universities and colleges through joint projects ($12.6 million).

Brighton said the increase in non-federal funding reflects increasing industry interest in economic development and the research that supports it.

Iowa State research projects supported by external funding during the past fiscal year included:

  • $3.3 million from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to a research team led by James Oliver, director of Iowa State's Virtual Reality Applications Center and a professor of mechanical engineering, for development of a virtual reality control room for the military's unmanned aerial vehicles. The Air Force funding will pay for equipment upgrades to the C6, Iowa State's six-sided virtual reality room that surrounds users with computer-generated 3-D images. The upgrade will shine 100 million pixels on the C6, creating virtual reality at the world's highest resolution.
  • $600,000 from the National Science Foundation to a research team led by Srinivas Aluru, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, for an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer. The machine is the 99th most powerful supercomputer in the world, according to the latest rankings released in June.
  • $225,000 from the Iowa Soybean Association and $125,000 from the United Soybean Board to a research team led by Walter Fehr, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture, for development of a new soybean oil for the food industry. The oil does not require hydrogenation, a chemical process that increases shelf life but produces trans fats. It also includes elevated levels of oleic acid, the same acid found in olive oil.