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Research expenditures shoot up during 2008 fiscal year

October 01, 2008

Arizona State University’s research expenditures in fiscal year 2008 (FY08) grew to nearly $238 million, up $19 million, or 8.7 percent compared to FY07. This growth happened during a time when university funding for research by the federal government failed to match inflation.

“Our growth shows how varied and significant our research is at Arizona State University,” emphasized R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., ASU vice president for research and economic affairs. “This bodes well for our future because we have a strong, diverse research portfolio which crosses and integrates many disciplines, and is vital to our country.”

“Our expenditures grew in what generally was a flat year for university research because of our interdisciplinary research expertise,” added Stephen Goodnick, ASU associate vice president of research. “The areas we grew the most – biosciences, alternative energy and flexible displays – all are interdisciplinary research areas.”

ASU’s $237.5 million total research dollars for FY08 comes from a variety of sources. ASU spent $190.5 million in funds received from the federal government, industry and other private sources; $34.4 million in state funds (including Technology & Research Initiative Funds from state sales tax revenue); $6.4 million from the ASU Foundation specifically for research projects; $2.8 million from foreign sources; and nearly $1.7 million from local governments.

ASU, a Research I university, has targeted several areas for growth in its research enterprise, Goodnick said. These include alternative energy and biosciences research. ASU draws on the interdisciplinary nature of its research teams to tackle challenging societal problems.

“Our biggest growth was in funds from the National Institutes of Health,” said Goodnick. “This is attributable, in part, to our large investment in biosciences over the past five years.”

“We’ve also had continued growth in Department of Defense funding, primarily due to the Flexible Display Center and its ground breaking work in information delivery,” he added. “We have had an increase in NASA funding, due in part to Mark Robinson and his work with the lunar reconnaissance mission, and we have experienced growth in alternative energy funding, like the ‘tubes in the desert’ project funded by the Science Foundation of Arizona and British Petroleum.”

In total, federal agencies that have provided the most to ASU include the NIH with more than $40.5 million, followed by the National Science Foundation ($39.2 million), NASA ($15.8 million), the U.S. Army ($14.5 million) and the Department of Education ($14.2 million).

ASU projects that brought in the most funds were the Flexible Display Center ($9.4 million), the Microscale Life Sciences Center ($7.5 million), the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera ($5.3 million) and a project on alternative energy that focuses on development of cyanobacteria for generating solar-powered, carbon-neutral biodeisel fuels ($4.7 million).

While ASU’s growth in a down year was good, Goodnick sees the future as being even brighter. He said the number of awards made to ASU during FY08 (which generally will be counted as expenditures in FY09) are up significantly.

“We have more than $272 million in awards this year, so we expect expenditures next year will grow accordingly,” Goodnick said. “This increase in awards is in line with our growth projections for ASU research in the future.”