ISU sets annual research funding record, attracts $530.5 million in total external funding

Researchers Daniel Linhares, front, with Guilherme Cezar, back left, and Giovani Trevisan in a veterinary diagnostic lab.

Researchers Daniel Linhares, front, Guilherme Cezar, back left, and Giovani Trevisan are working with the Swine Disease Reporting System to identify new variants of pathogens. The goal is to provide early warning signs about risks to swine health. Photo by Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University. Larger photo.

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University researchers attracted $301.3 million to support their experiments and projects for the 2023 fiscal year that ended June 30, topping $300 million for the first time and setting the university’s record for annual, external, sponsored research funding.

The new record beat the previous record – $284.2 million in fiscal year 2022 – by $17.1 million or 6%.

The new research total also includes records for federal research funding, $206.9 million, and non-federal research funding, $94.4 million. The previous records were set in fiscal year 2022, $198.2 million for federal support and $86 million for non-federal support.

“The record-setting investments in Iowa State research in fiscal year 2023 by both federal agencies and non-federal sources reinforce the university’s continuing progress in achieving its aspiration to be the trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions,” said Peter Dorhout, Iowa State’s vice president for research.

Overall, Iowa State attracted $530.5 million in external funding during the last fiscal year. That’s a drop from fiscal year 2022’s record of $601.7 million.

External funding supports initiatives across campus, including research projects, academic support, scholarships and facility improvements. The funding can include contracts, awards and cooperative agreements from federal, state and local governments, as well as from individuals, corporations, nonprofits and other universities. While external funding supports research operating expenses, it does not support operating expenses related to the university’s educational mission.


Attracting record research support

The National Science Foundation (NSF); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided major support for Iowa State research projects during the last fiscal year.

NSF provided a record $35.1 million (the previous record was $34.8 million in fiscal year 2018); the USDA provided $32.7 million; HHS and NIH provided a record of just over $25 million (the previous record was $20.7 million in fiscal year 2022).

Here are a few examples of new research projects receiving external funding during the 2023 fiscal year:

  • Researchers across Iowa will work together to build the knowledge, infrastructure and capacity for the state to be a leader in advanced biomanufacturing. NSF will support the project led by Iowa State’s Laura Jarboe, the Cargill Professor in Chemical Engineering, with a five-year, $20 million grant from its Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The program is all about building research capabilities and expertise across the country.
  • Jacob Meyer, an associate professor of kinesiology, is leading studies to determine how exercise before cognitive behavioral therapy could improve treatments for depression. The National Institute of Mental Health is supporting the project with a two-year, $752,000 grant.

There are many reasons Iowa State researchers are attracting record support, Dorhout said: “External sponsors value Iowa State research as an enterprise that emphasizes integrity, ethical conduct of research, professionalism and accountability on the university’s journey to create opportunities and forge new frontiers.”