Iowa State attracts a record $424.9 million in external funding for fiscal year 2015

Iowa State engineers study dual-rotor wind turbines

Iowa State aerospace engineers, left to right, Anupam Sharma and Hui Hu are working to improve the performance of wind turbines and wind farms. Their research has been supported by the Iowa Energy Center and the National Science Foundation. Larger image. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University broke its external funding record this past fiscal year, attracting $424.9 million during the year ending June 30.

The previous record was $388.2 million in fiscal year 2010. Last year’s external funding was $368.4 million, now the third-highest total for Iowa State.

“This record funding is testimony to the confidence that government agencies, industry, foundations and individuals have in the expertise of our faculty and staff,” said Steven Leath, president of Iowa State. “More than half of this money is dedicated to research projects that are addressing issues affecting Iowans as well as people throughout the world.”

Of the nearly $425 million in external funding last fiscal year, $226 million supported research projects across campus.

External funding includes grants, contracts, gifts and cooperative agreements from federal, state and local governments as well as from corporations, foundations and other universities.

The funds support Iowa State researchers, students, education programs, equipment purchases, building projects and extension activities. The funding is in addition to state appropriations, which support daily operations of the university.

The jump in external funding includes a $44 million increase over the previous year from the Iowa State University Foundation and a $14 million increase from federal agencies. The federal increase includes a jump of nearly $10 million from the National Science Foundation and its competitive grants program.

“This record year was driven by a strong year of fundraising and excellent gains in federal funding,” said Sarah Nusser, Iowa State’s vice president for research. “The ISU Foundation is helping to support university priorities such as the planned Student Innovation Center. The increase in federal funding is supporting major priorities for Iowa State’s research mission, including big data, computer and computational science research, awards for new investigators and the establishment of larger research teams and interdisciplinary centers.”


Iowa State’s external funding came from the following sources during fiscal year 2015:

Federal agencies

  • Agriculture, $64,247,174
  • Energy, $59,299,085
  • National Science Foundation, $41,446,300
  • Education, $29,885,371
  • Health and Human Services, $9,211,616
  • Commerce, $6,210,039
  • Transportation, $5,295,463
  • Defense, $3,429,878
  • Other federal, $4,861,911

Non-federal sources

  • Individuals, $90,045,289
  • Industry/corporate, $39,563,329
  • State of Iowa government, $29,982,231
  • Nonprofit organizations $16,242,608
  • Higher education, $14,107,851
  • Commodity groups, $5,729,010
  • Foreign sources, $2,657,192
  • Non-Iowa state and local governments, $1,516,126
  • Local Iowa governments/school districts, $1,213,894

Grand total