UF research spending at record $928.6 million in 2019

University of Florida research spending rose more than 7% to a record $928.6 million in fiscal year 2019, according to a new report to the National Science Foundation.

UF’s response to NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, Survey showed a $63 million increase in expenditures, or 7.3%, over 2018’s previous record of $865.1 million. 

“UF’s faculty continue to excel at winning competitive research funding to conduct cutting-edge science and scholarship across a wide array of disciplines, from health and agriculture to engineering, the basic sciences and the humanities,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “The steady growth in UF’s research enterprise has contributed significantly to the university’s reputation as a top public institution, and it has had a huge economic impact on the state.”

Spending on projects supported by the federal government increased $32.4 million, or 9.1%, to $388 million. State and local expenditures were down slightly, but spending on industry and non-profit projects were both up.

“Our faculty and staff continue to drive our research enterprise to new heights in an incredibly competitive environment, and we couldn’t be prouder of their amazing work and accomplishments in so many important fields,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “Not only are they solving the problems of today, but they are providing our students with the education and experience to address the challenges of tomorrow.” 

Life sciences research – including health and agriculture – totaled $689.6 million, up $33.3 million, or 5.1%, over 2018. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health, is UF’s largest funding source, followed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Engineering and computer sciences accounted for $121.2 million, while earth and physical sciences – like geology, astronomy, chemistry and physics – and mathematics accounted for $45.8 million. Psychology, the social sciences and humanities accounted for the balance of the funding.

NSF collects expenditure data from universities around the country and compiles it into a report that will be released later this year. Last year, based on fiscal year 2018 data, UF ranked 15th among public universities in research expenditures.

Major projects currently under way include:

  • A $14.9 million U.S. Department of Defense study of a type of heart disease known as non-obstructive coronary artery disease that disproportionately affects women. UF is spearheading a four-year clinical trial of more than 4,400 women – primarily active-duty personnel, veterans and dependents living in Florida – to determine whether aggressive treatment of non-obstructive CAD with medication and lifestyle modification will reduce the likelihood of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, hospitalization and death.
  • An $8.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a Virtual Learning Lab, where College of Education researchers are mining massive data sets of test scores, student records, teacher evaluations and other sources for information that will enable teachers to customize lesson plans to address individual students’ needs. 
  • A $7.3 million U.S. Department of Energy project to UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to pinpoint genes that could improve plants’ ability to access nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plant growth. Enhancing plants’ nitrogen uptake could increase food security by promoting crop growth in poor soils and could reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers, lowering costs for farmers and lessening environmental damage caused by runoff.
Joseph Kays February 10, 2020