KU advances to 39th in annual survey of federally funded research

Tue, 04/16/2013

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Kevin Boatright
Office of Research
785-864-7240

LAWRENCE — Federally funded research at the University of Kansas increased in 2011 to a record $162.7 million. That figure ranked KU 39th among national public research universities, according to an annual survey produced by the National Science Foundation.

This marks the first time KU has ranked in the top 40 in this category. It was 41st in 2010, 44th in 2009, 43rd in 2008 and 44th in 2007. As recently as 1996, KU ranked 55th

The survey, which always lags by one year, ranked 896 public and private universities nationwide. According to the survey, KU conducts more federally funded research than all other universities in Kansas combined.

“All KU researchers can be proud of this recognition,” said Steve Warren, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies. “It’s a meaningful measure of KU’s national stature as a research university and a reminder of the importance of KU research to the university’s mission and the economic development of the state.”

In the 2011 survey, KU ranked higher than any other public university in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska or Oklahoma. It ranked second among the eight public Big 12 universities, behind only the University of Texas at Austin.   A list of the top-ranked public and private universities is available online.           

“The NSF survey is really a glance in the rearview mirror,” said Warren. “We and other universities were still receiving federal stimulus funding back in 2011. The view down the road is ominous. The federal budget sequester that began March 1, if not reduced or repealed, will seriously impair basic university research for years to come. At the state level, support for the higher education budget as a whole remains at risk. Taken together, continuing the growth of research at KU will be a challenge moving forward.”

Total KU research expenditures from all sources of external grants and contracts exceeded $256 million in 2011, with federal funding accounting for the largest share of the total. Principal funding agencies included the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.

“Since federal and state funding are increasingly uncertain,” said Warren, “we are expanding our efforts to generate research support from private foundations and industry.  We’ve added staff specifically to work in those two areas.  We’ve also added staff whose assignment is to organize large, collaborative grant proposals in KU areas of research strength, such as energy, transportation, remote sensing, information technology and drug discovery.  These investments are already starting to pay off.”



This past week, new Jayhawks moved in and started their first semester at KU. Madisen Pool, a freshman in computer engineering, captured one of his first sunrises on the Hill. With a fresh start, and a feeling of accomplishment for starting college, Pool thought this view was a great reminder to enjoy life. We asked Pool what his advice would be to his fellow new Jayhawks and he said, "make your time here at the university memorable. Have fun, do something you’ve always wanted to do, meet new people, and most importantly get the most out of your experience and shape your life the way you want it to be. Rock Chalk!" We couldn't agree more. Rock Chalk, Madisen! Show us your new experiences with the hashtag, #exploreKU.

How will you #exploreKU on your day off?
KU student tricks monkey flower into growing protective ‘hair’ Thanks to a KU Undergraduate Research Award (see more at http://ugresearch.ku.edu/student/fund/ugra), Sukhindervir Sandhu, a KU junior in biochemistry, figured out which genetic button to push to get a monkey flower, or Mimulus guttatus, to grow protective trichomes, or plant hair. Sandhu was able to track it down to a gene called SKP-1. By silencing SKP-1, he discovered that gene regulates plant hair growth in monkey flowers.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
1 of 9 public universities with outstanding study abroad programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
$260.5 million in externally funded research expenditures
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times