The University of Maryland’s dynamic faculty, students and staff, along with innovative approaches by the Division of Research, brought in a record $550 million in outside research awards in fiscal 2015, a one-year increase of more than $70 million at a time when research income at most universities was stagnant.
This reinforces UMD’s reputation as a leading international research university, seen by funding institutions as a solid investment during uncertain fiscal times.
“This year’s awards reflect the University of Maryland’s leadership in research fields of great societal importance, and the work of our extraordinary faculty, staff and students who collaborate in the amazingly creative discovery and innovation ecosystem we have established here in College Park,” says Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick O’Shea. “We are uniquely positioned as the model 21st-century research university; our prime geographic location in the DC metro area allows us to leverage our expertise, partnerships and strategic vision to be among the best in the world.”
Several factors drove the increase despite flagging government spending. Those include partnerships with like-minded institutions, seed grant programs, strategic outreach to funding agencies, cross-disciplinary research projects by Maryland faculty, mentoring, and effective and efficient research administration and support services. As the university begins its second year in the Big Ten—a research powerhouse as well as sports conference—it is concurrently diversifying and deepening its research portfolio.
The proactive and strategic efforts and programs of the Division of Research are helping UMD as a whole thrive in difficult times, says Associate Vice President for Research Development Ken Gertz.
"We are proud to have achieved this record-setting year in the face of significant funding challenges, when many other universities' research funding numbers were flat," says Gertz.
Among a host of funding awards, the university is partnering with the MITRE Corporation to operate the first and only federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) solely dedicated to enhancing cybersecurity and protecting national information systems. A significant number of faculty will contribute research in computer science, public policy, engineering, business and criminology. MITRE and UMD are also working to advance collaborations in the areas of trusted autonomy, quantum, analytics and the science of logistics.
Innovation from UMD’s world-renowned geographical sciences department will orbit Earth on the International Space Station in coming years. The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) Lidar is being developed by UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, scheduled for completion in 2018. GEDI will use lasers to map forest vegetation worldwide to answer questions about how deforestation affects earth’s climate and biodiversity.
The 2015 total surpasses by $5 million the previous record set in 2010, when fiscal stimulus dollars flooded university research coffers across the US.
"Thanks to our extraordinary faculty, the leveraging of our unique location, a proactive and strategic approach in our outreach to funding agencies and partners, and exceptional administrative support,” O’Shea says, “we were able to accomplish a great deal.”
September 17, 2015