The University of South Carolina faculty has — for the third year in a row — set a new record for sponsored award funding, garnering $253.6 million for research, training and service in fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017).
USC Vice President for Research, Prakash Nagarkatti, lauded this major achievement by recognizing the outstanding faculty members who have made it possible. “USC could not continue breaking funding records year after year without our faculty, which is made up of some of the brightest minds in academia today,” he said. “They are the engine that keeps our research enterprise moving, accelerating us toward an ever brighter future. I also want to recognize the outstanding research support staff in the Office of Sponsored Awards Management, the Office of Research and Grant Development, the many academic departments and other administrative units, who ensure sponsored awards are administered so well.”
USC President Harris Pastides joined in the celebration, saying, “Just when I thought I could not be more proud of USC’s faculty accomplishments, a major new milestone like this one comes along and shows me that the sky is the limit. I commend our faculty for setting this funding record for the third year running — a truly impressive achievement.”
See the past year’s funding trends in our FY2017 annual funding charts [pdf].
Several large awards of note contributed to the new record this year. Here are just a few noteworthy examples:
- $8.3 million from the Office of Naval Research and Florida State University to support ongoing work at USC’s Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium (ESRDC), which develops tools and methods to design revolutionary electrical power and energy systems for use in naval ships. [Read more about the ESRDC]
- $5 million, ($5 million in direct funding plus $3 million to supporting contractors) from the U.S. Department of Energy to found the Center for Hierarchical Waste Form Materials, which explores new, sustainable ways to store hazardous nuclear waste. With the award, Carolina became one of only four national Energy Frontier Research Centers in the country. [Read more]
- $4.4 million from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop solutions to improve aviation communications systems, increase air safety and enhance operation of America’s air travel system. [Read more]
- $3.2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund the first longitudinal developmental study of the early features of anxiety in very young boys with fragile X syndrome. The study will analyze which initial features of anxiety can be detected and the stability and prognostic value of these early symptoms. [Read more]
- $3.1 million from the NIH to fund a project that seeks to use big-data analytics techniques to explore, identify, characterize, explain and predict missed opportunities for HIV medical care for persons living with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina. [Read more]
Office of Research Programs Boost Success
Since 2011, the Office of the Vice President for Research has implemented a variety of strategic funding efforts that have contributed to USC’s research and sponsored awards successes over the past several years.
“We have seen amazing returns on our investments in our internal faculty funding programs like ASPIRE and RISE, which encourage faculty throughout the USC system to embark on new interdisciplinary collaborations and novel lines of research that they might not have been able to pursue otherwise,” Dr. Nagarkatti explained. “This seed funding translates into enhanced competitiveness and increased success rates for faculty as they apply for extramural dollars to build on the foundations they have laid with internal investments.”
The numbers bear out the success of these efforts in dollars and publications:
- A nearly fifteenfold return on investment: Over the five years between 2012 and 2017, the Office of Research invested just over $8 million in ASPIRE grants. According to the researchers who received these grants, the groundwork they laid with their ASPIRE awards has resulted in more than $120 million in new research awards.
- More than 20 awards over $1 million: In FY2017, 21 sponsored projects were funded at over $1 million, including eight that totaled more than $2 million.
- Growing faculty publications: In the five years before the new programs were implemented (2005-2010), USC faculty published 7,396 papers. In the five years after the Office of Research implemented internal funding programs (2011-2016), publications increased by 40 percent, to 10,336, many of them by authors collaborating across fields of study. The quality of publications was also enhanced.