Clemson sponsored research tops $150 million, exceeds goal

October 16, 2008

CLEMSON, SC – October 16, 2008 — Clemson University announced Thursday its sponsored research funding for fiscal year 2008 exceeded its goal of $150 million with more than half a million dollars to spare.

The grand total of $150,605,414 represents an increase of approximately 10 percent over last year. The goal of $150 million by 2008 was set in 2002 after university researchers were seven years ahead of schedule in meeting President James F. Barker’s original goal of $100 million within 10 years of his becoming president in 1999.src=img/research-emphasis.jpg

In a meeting of the Research Committee of the board of trustees, Chris Przirembel, Clemson’s vice president for research and economic development, said this year’s record represents significant achievement for university researchers.

“I congratulate our faculty and graduate students for their success in bringing Clemson University’s sponsored research to a new level, not just in terms of dollars or of reaching a goal but in the value their work will ultimately provide, he said.

This year’s increase in funding represents some major challenges, including a shrinking federal budget for basic research. Yet Clemson researchers received more federal funding than last year. I applaud their tenacity and commitment, but especially their expertise. The quality of our faculty and graduate students is reflected in their ability to secure this level of funding,“ he said.

Przirembel added that the total came from a good balance of funding sources, with $84 million in federal funding, $38 million from state and local government agencies and $29 million from industry and other sources. Clemson’s strategy of focusing efforts in emphasis areas that align with the university’s teaching, research and public service is reflected in the funding breakdown.

The five emphasis areas seen as offering the greatest potential for research and economic development success comprise 86 percent of the year’s total funding: advanced materials, 29 percent; sustainable environment, 21 percent; information and communications technology, 14 percent; biotechnology and biomedical sciences, 12 percent; and automotive and transportation technology, 10 percent.

The College of Engineering and Science accounted for more than half the funding (52 percent). Public Service Activities accounted for the second-highest total (17 percent). Other units with funding included the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, 8 percent; the College of Health, Education and Human Development, 4 percent; the College of Business and Behavioral Science, 2 percent; and the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, 1 percent.

Przirembel said he anticipates even greater success by Clemson researchers and increased funding with the infusion of new faculty members who have yet to hit their stride in terms of writing proposals. He noted that the university has hired more than 330 tenured and tenure-track faculty members over the past five years, mostly to replace retiring faculty.

“It takes a while for new faculty to settle in. This new, relatively young faculty cohort represents individuals who are committed to research, who see proposal-writing as part and parcel of academic life, and we look forward to the role they will play in making Clemson a major research university.

“The quality of research is not all about numbers,” he added. “Of course the amount of research funding is important, but it’s really the quality of the research and its importance to solving the problems of society that matters. We value Clemson research — and researchers — across disciplines, regardless of the funding amount.”

A few highlights of the year include:

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) selected four junior faculty members for CAREER awards. NSF’s most prestigious award recognizes young faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the mission of their institutions. With this year’s awards, Clemson has 11 CAREER recipients on its faculty.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense provided funding to the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) for advanced photonics composite research ($3.25 million).
  • Michelin funded a project for CU-ICAR automotive-engineering faculty to study ways to reduce automotive tire rolling resistance and improve vehicle fuel economy ($1.9 million).
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the South Carolina Department of Education, funded a project for food science and human nutrition faculty to develop programs about healthy eating habits for young people.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided support to the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life for a mentoring project for children of prisoners.