University research expenditures grow

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 1, 2007 – Virginia Tech has reported research expenditures of $321.7 million to the National Science Foundation for fiscal year 2006 (year ending June 30, 2006), which is an 11 percent increase over 2005.

“We are very pleased with how we did last year,” said Brad Fenwick, vice president for research. Eleven percent growth is something to be proud of.”

Research expenditures are funds actually spent to conduct research. The figures reported to the National Science Foundation include sponsored research from federal, state, local, and industry sources. The figure also includes institutional investments, which take the form of facilities and administrative costs and overhead recovered from sponsors and reinvested primarily in equipment, infrastructure, and salaries to support research programs, as well as cost sharing on a few research projects.

In fiscal year 2006, the university received more than 2,000 awards to conduct research. Examples of major research projects that contributed to 2006 expenditures are work by the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute to develop PathPort, a computer-based tool that collects and collates genetic information about pathogens and uses powerful analysis and visualization tools to aid in rapid identification of and response to high-priority pathogens; research by faculty members in the electrical and computer engineering department and the Pamplin College of Business to develop better technology to protect children's online privacy; Department of Energy funded work by the Center for Advanced Separation Technologies to provide the science that will permit the economic recovery of coal and other materials now lost as waste or already disposed of in coal and mineral waste impoundments; and research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, funded by the National Institute of Child Health, to prevent motor vehicle crashes among young drivers.

Total federal expenditures at Virginia Tech grew 9.24 percent.

Fenwick said there is concern about continued growth because of the overextended federal budget.

State and local research funding grew 16.52 percent and funding from industry grew 10.19 percent.

Fenwick said he is hopeful that the 2006 research expenditure number will move the university up in the rankings among universities “but we won’t know for another year, when the comparative data are available from NSF.”

"Of course all of the universities would be impacted by the strain on the federal budget,” Fenwick said. “What is most important is having the resources to do the research that our faculty members are capable of -- to meet our needs in energy, infectious disease prevention, and new technologies for a robust economy."

Based on $289.99 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2005, Virginia Tech is ranked 56th among the 630 universities that submitted data to the NSF.