Year in Review

Support for MU research and education lays groundwork for more prosperous future

Financial support for the ground-breaking work of MU faculty scientists and scholars surpassed another all-time high in FY 2009. Reaching this milestone, particularly given today’s challenging economic climate, reaffirms the place of MU’s faculty investigators among the nation’s leaders in research, scholarship, public service and economic development.

Headshot of Robert Duncan

Vice Chancellor for Research Robert Duncan

In our previous report, I wrote of bottlenecks in the federal appropriations process that had resulted in five straight years of flat or shrinking budgets for agencies supporting research at America’s colleges and universities. This prolonged funding drought was not only impeding the progress and competitiveness of some of our nation’s top scientists, but was making it more and more difficult for promising young researchers to take their place in the “discovery pipeline.”

During FY 2009, I am pleased to report, the availability of funds at agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation improved dramatically, thanks in large part to the more than $40 billion in research-and-development-related funding included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Original thinking and discovery are vital to the continued health of our national economy; in tough times we need more, not less, support for the scientists, scholars and students whose innovative thinking will lead our nation’s return to prosperity. It is also critical that this support be made on the basis of scientific merit alone, not on political or geographic considerations.

This new support is now working its way through the competitive system by which grants are awarded. But already there are scientists and scholars at MU who have received funding for vital projects both new and ongoing. Among them are:

  • Shawn (Yun-Sheng) Xu, a researcher with MU’s Water Resource Research Center, who received $2.54 million from the Department of Energy to demonstrate how ground-source heat pumps can reduce propane use on farms.
  • Frederick vom Saal, a professor of biological sciences who first raised the alarm on Bisphenol A, an additive used in many plastics, received a $2.3 million award from NIH to study urine flow disorders and prostate pathologies related to the chemical.
  • Marjorie Skubic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a 2 year, $1.4 million award from the NSF to advance technology for detecting falls and atypical behavior among retirement community residents.
  • Meera Chandrasekhar, a professor of physics, received a $5 million, 5-year NSF award to increase physics instruction in Missouri high schools.

These examples are just a small sample of the hundreds of sponsored investigations undertaken by MU faculty: All are exciting projects that Missourians can take pride in — and not just because of their scientific, technological and pedagogical benefits.

Studies have shown that MU research creates millions in economic development dollars, funds that contribute to the creation and retention of thousands of Missouri jobs. The University has estimated, for example, that the $481 million in economic activity generated by MU last year was roughly equivalent to 20 companies with revenues of $12 million each.

The road ahead will not be free of obstacles. As this report goes to press, lawmakers in Jefferson City have announced revenue projections below expectations. Painful budget cuts are inevitable. Students, faculty and staff at MU will undoubtedly be affected, as will all Missouri citizens. In short, times are still tough and likely to get tougher.

But be assured that MU continues to move forward, propelled by the same spirit of discovery, innovation and learning that has served Missouri’s flagship university for almost 175 years. That spirit conveys to us a sense of optimism, of common purpose and, most importantly, of certainty that the key to a better tomorrow lies in the quest for new knowledge today.

As this report will show, our passion for innovation and discovery has never been stronger and, as a result, the University of Missouri’s future has never been brighter.

Expenditures and Awards

Sponsorship by the federal government, Missouri’s state government and various corporate and nonprofit agencies is crucial to the health of the University’s research enterprise. In this report you will encounter charts and graphs that reflect the extent of these agencies’ involvement in MU research. Some are expressed in terms of “expenditures,” which represent resources spent by a researcher during a given fiscal year. Others are expressed as “awards,” which show the total amount of funds available for use, money often expended over a period of years. It is important to note that because awards data correspond to funds promised but not yet expended, the award totals represented in this report may be revised over time as grant and contract obligations are fulfilled by sponsoring agencies. For more on this change, please see Student Support & Academic Enterprise.

Externally Sponsored Grants and Contracts FY 2009 Totals

During the previous fiscal year, scientists and scholars at the University of Missouri generated record levels of sponsored research, instruction and public service support. Totals in this year’s report, as seen below, have been calculated to include funding related to student financial aid and academic enterprise — an adjustment intended to more accurately reflect the size and scope of MU’s research and scholarly enterprise.

Total Expenditures, Five-year Trend
  FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009
Total $392,968,994 $424,522,510 $458,253,714 $489,644,836 $543,945,584

Previous years’ data represent total expenditures as adjusted for FY 2009 reporting model.

Total Awards, Five-year Trend
  FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009
Total $387,386,230 $424,749,044 $464,090,546 $497,600,795 $573,700,802

Previous years' data represent total awards as adjusted for FY 2009 reporting model.

New Federal Support Boosts Funding Totals

Stimulus funds from federal agencies helped boost MU research and student support funding in FY 2009. Over the past decade, investigators at MU have been among the nation’s leaders in growth rates for government-supported research and scholarship.

Total Expenditures, By Sponsor
Sponsor Amount Percentage
Federal $370,220,005 68%
State of Missouri $103,850,308 19%
For-profit $37,584,288 7%
Nonprofit $17,473,811 3%
Other $14,817,172 3%
Total $543,945,584  
Total Awards, By Sponsor
Sponsor Amount Percentage
Federal $390,636,980 68%
State of Missouri $109,069,254 19%
For-profit $39,895,827 7%
Nonprofit $18,706,832 3%
Other $15,391,908 3%
Total $573,700,802