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   from the issue of August 17, 2006

Research funding tops $100 million milestone


External funding for UNL research continued to set records this year, topping $100 million, according to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

UNL's research funding, including all external funds awarded for university research projects, totaled $104.6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30. Of that, $71.1 million came from federal sources, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education and other agencies. Total sponsored programs funding, which includes funds for research and other activities such as instruction, public service, administration and student services, increased to $165.9 million in the same period.

UNL's research funding has increased 113 percent since 2000, when total research awards hit $49.2 million, and has more than tripled since 1996.

The $104.6 million marks a milestone in UNL's efforts to build its stature nationally and enhance research to better serve Nebraska, students and the nation, said Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies.

"Five years ago, we set a goal for reaching $100 million in research and we are pleased that our faculty members have reached this landmark," Paul said. "Growing our research capacity enables our faculty to explore solutions to societal challenges."

Chancellor Harvey Perlman said research creates new technologies that have the potential to attract new businesses and benefit existing companies.

"Some of our research discoveries provide a launching pad for new start-up companies, creating new jobs, helping keep our talented young people in Nebraska and improving our quality of life," he said.Ó

One example is an agreement the university signed earlier this year with Beef Products Inc., a regional company with a major processing plant in South Sioux City. The agreement could lead to commercialization of a UNL scientist's novel cholesterol-lowering compound made from beef tallow and soybeans.

UNL also is expanding its strategic partnerships to address pressing issues facing Nebraska and the nation, Perlman said, citing the university's new Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, a partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District. Established with $5 million in funding from NPPD, the center will support research on renewable energy resources and energy efficiency with an eye toward economic development potential.

Top quality research also attracts top faculty and students, Paul said.

Research grants contributing to the funding increase include:

• $12.9 million from the National Science Foundation to lead a consortium of five U.S. universities working on the multinational ANDRILL Antarctic drilling project to study the region's role in global climate change;

• $10.6 million from the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Research Resources to fund the UNL-based Nebraska Center for Virology, which links researchers from UNL, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University studying important viruses.

• $9.9 million from the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for a bioengineering partnership to develop a hemophilia therapy;

• $7.4 million from the USDA's Risk Management Agency to devise Web-based drought management tools for farmers and ranchers;

• $750,000 from the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension service for statewide organic farming research;

• $710,000 from the National Science Foundation for an interdisciplinary undergraduate research program that combines ecology and mathematical modeling;

• $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the Walt Whitman Archive;

• $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation for a middle school math and science educational initiative using small robots as teaching tools. UNL collaborates with the Omaha Public Schools on this program at the Peter Kiewit Institute.

"The faculty of this university, with Vice Chancellor Paul's encouragement and support, has really stepped up and demonstrated that Nebraska has the potential to become one of the premier public research universities," Perlman said.



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