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Virginia Tech research expenditures grow


BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 11, 2009 – For the 10th year in a row, research expenditures at Virginia Tech have reached a record high. The university reported $373.3 million in expenditures for fiscal year 2008, which ended June 30, to the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The figure represents an increase of $6.3 million, according to Ken Miller, university controller. The 2007 total was the 42nd highest in the country, but the NSF will not release its rankings of universities for the 2008 academic year until late this summer.

Federal funding grew from $128.8 million to $135.6 million and industry funding grew from $17 million to $20.4 million. The only decline was in the funding from the Commonwealth Research Initiative, from $19 million in 2007 to $7.7 million in 2008. Due to budget shortfalls at the state level, the program was phased back significantly after having helped to launch several research initiatives, such as infectious disease and nanotechnology research. It was used for start-up packages for researchers and for equipment for the Advanced Separation and Imaging of Living Cells Facility and the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory, as well as a next-generation genome sequencing system, X-Ray crystallography enhancements, and two advanced mass spectrometry systems.

"While our overall growth was below our goals, the areas that account for competitive research awards continued to grow," said Robert Walters, vice president for research at Virginia Tech. "We increased our external federal funding by over 5 percent and our industry funding by almost 20 percent. In the current economy, those numbers are encouraging. We are eager to see how other universities fared in the same climate."

Walters added, "Sponsored research activity is more than money; it represents the Virginia Tech faculty's outstanding scholarship and expertise and their efforts to address important societal problems."

Research awards in 2008 that are part of the research expenditures include development of a comprehensive national incident management system by Virginia Bioinformatics Institute to provide those involved in disaster management in the U.S. military with essential detailed operational information about the populations being affected by a possible crisis; the smart choices nutrition education program, being developed by researchers in human nutrition for the Virginia Food Stamp Nutrition Education program; a driving behavior and crash risk study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, as well as vehicle and roadside safety product development by the institute; development of coal cleaning technology; study of carbon sequestration strategies; chemistry for mosquito control; support of the nation's centers for biodefense against infectious disease; watershed monitoring; and development of novel materials for an array of applications, from construction to medicine.