Iowa State attracts $469 million in external funds, sets record of $260.9 million for research

Amy Andreotti and Dipali Sashital study structural biology.

A $3.5 million grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine will bring a state-of-the-art cryo-transmission electron microscope to Iowa State, helping Amy Andreotti and Dipali Sashital, left to right, advance their studies of structural biology. Larger photo. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University attracted $469 million of total external funding for the fiscal year ending June 30. That’s a 7.9 percent decrease from fiscal year 2018’s record total of $509.2 million.

Total external funding for fiscal year 2019 is the third highest reported by Iowa State, following records in fiscal years 2018 and 2017. The record years included significant gifts benefitting the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Ivy College of Business.

External funding includes grants, contracts, gifts and cooperative agreements from federal, state and local governments as well as from corporations, nonprofits and other universities for research, academic support, scholarships and more.

The fiscal year 2019 total also includes a record $260.9 million of external support for Iowa State research, a 6.2 percent jump over the previous fiscal year’s $245.8 million. The previous record for research funding was $252.5 million during fiscal year 2016.

External research funding included a record $181.1 million in federal funds (the previous record was $174.7 million in fiscal year 2016) and a record $79.8 million in non-federal funding (the previous record was $77.7 million, again in fiscal year 2016).

Wendy Wintersteen

Wendy Wintersteen

“These figures indicate that as a top land-grant university, Iowa State excels at leveraging state resources to attract external support for academic, research and creative activities,” said Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State’s president. “Record research funding helps place our faculty at the forefront of innovative discoveries and economic opportunities that make our state more competitive and improve lives in Iowa and beyond.”

External research funding supported more than 1,300 research projects during fiscal year 2019, including projects to study structural biology at the molecular level, develop a nanovaccine for the flu, identify catalysts that lead to biorenewable chemicals and build a data system that helps inform policy about the care and education of young children.

Sarah Nusser

Sarah Nusser

“The record-high external research funding the university achieved in 2019 directly reflects the value our sponsors place on our faculty’s focused, purposeful approach to research,” said Sarah Nusser, Iowa State’s vice president for research. “Whether it’s foundational or translational, sponsors understand the research performed by Iowa State answers questions and delivers solutions to the challenges we face within the state, across the nation and around the world.”




Iowa State’s major sources of total external funding in fiscal year 2019:

Federal agencies:

  • Energy – $87.7 million
  • Agriculture – $42.4 million
  • National Science Foundation – $35.1 million
  • Education – $32.3 million
  • Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health – $19.3 million
  • Commerce – $6.5 million
  • Defense – $5.7 million
  • Other federal – $8.1 million

Non-federal sources:

  • Individual – $100.1 million
  • Industry/corporate – $49.8 million 
  • State of Iowa – $28.9 million
  • Nonprofit organizations – $26.9 million
  • Higher education – $17.3 million
  • Commodity groups – $7.4 million
  • Other non-federal – $1.5 million

External funding total (including many other sources)

$469.0 million


Recent history of external funding totals

  • FY19, $469 million
  • FY18, $509.2 million
  • FY17, $503.6 million
  • FY16, $425.8 million
  • FY15, $424.9 million
  • FY14, $368.4 million
  • FY13, $326.4 million
  • FY12, $360.2 million
  • FY11, $342.3 million
  • FY10, $388.2 million