Sponsored research at Tech hits all-time high

Tennessee Tech University officials announced that sponsored research hit an all-time high, with nearly $20 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This is a 16% increase over the previous high from 2009-2010.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech University officials announced that sponsored research hit an all-time high, with nearly $20 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This is a 16% increase over the previous high from 2009-2010.

“This new high for sponsored research is a testament to the value organizations outside of the university put on Tech’s expertise,” said Tech President Phil Oldham. “Our faculty and staff researchers put in a lot of effort to obtain this important funding that enables them to better serve the university and their students, the state and the world.”

Nearly 150 sponsored research activations were made in 2018-2019, with funding from federal agencies (95 activations valued at nearly $12 million), a variety of state of Tennessee agencies (34 valued at more than $3 million), and private organizations (17 valued at nearly $1 million).

The National Science Foundation was the largest single funding agency, providing support for 26 projects valued at $3.9 million. Other organizations funding Tech researchers include NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy and The Nature Conservancy. Private companies, non-profit foundations and local agencies also provided external funding.

“The work of our faculty and the staff of the Office of Research is vital to making these achievements possible,” said Francis Otuonye, interim vice president of Research and Economic Development and associate vice president of Research. “With greater emphasis on sponsored research, we plan to further increase the total amount of funding as we move forward.”

In its recently announced set of goals, Tech is looking to double sponsored research funding to nearly $40 million by 2025.

The Carnegie Classification, the national system for classifying colleges and universities, for Tech is an R2 university — a doctoral university with high research activity. Criteria for this classification includes research funding. 

For 2018-2019, more than 100 Tech faculty and staff are the principal investigator (PI) or a co-PI on the funded projects, 29 of whom obtained funding of more than $100,000 each. Three individuals topped $2 million in external funding: Ambareen Siraj, professor of computer science and director of Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center; Kevin Liska, director of Tech’s iCube; and Martha Howard, associate professor of early childhood special education.

All of Tech’s colleges received some outside funding, be it for research, instruction or public service, with five seeing an increase over the previous year and receiving at least $1 million in outside funding. Tech’s College of Engineering accounted for the largest funding amount, followed by the College of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Education, and the College of Agriculture & Human Ecology.

The $19.7 million total for the year included $3.7 million in state funding for Tech’s three Centers of Excellence: The Center for Energy Systems Research, the Center for Manufacturing Research, and the Center for the Management, Utilization & Protection of Water Resources.

Three individuals topped $2 million in external funding including Ambareen Siraj, professor of computer science and director of Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center.

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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