UCF tops $100 million milestone in research funding for 2004-05


University of Central Florida professors received a record $103.6 million in research funding, exceeding the $100 million milestone for the first time in the university's history

University of Central Florida professors received a record $103.6 million in research funding in 2004-05, exceeding the $100 million milestone for the first time in the university's history, Vice President for Research M.J. Soileau announced.

Researchers in engineering, education and optics led the way as UCF increased its research funding by 25 percent over the 2003-04 total of $83 million. Expansions of nanoscience and biomedical sciences programs also helped to attract more research dollars.

"The amount of grant and contract money acquired each year is a commonly accepted measure of the quality of a university's research programs," said President John Hitt. "These funds come through the efforts of UCF's dedicated faculty members who invest their time and considerable talents in projects that advance knowledge, improve student learning and increase the quality of life throughout our community, state and nation. Crossing the $100 million threshold is a significant milestone in UCF's progress from promise to prominence."

UCF has posted double-digit percentage increases in research funding during five of the last six years. The university received $37.6 million in research dollars six years ago. Before 2004-05, the most successful year for research funding was 2002-03, when UCF researchers pulled in $88.8 million. Those totals do not include in-kind gifts, such as the donations of equipment or intellectual property for research projects.

The 2004-05 funding includes $43.7 million from federal government agencies, $25.6 million from state agencies and $34.3 from industries and corporations.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science posted the highest total among UCF's nine colleges with $17.5 million in research funding. College of Education professors received $17.3 million, and the College of Optics and Photonics faculty were awarded $15 million. The Florida Solar Energy Center received $9.4 million, most of which involves federal grants for hydrogen research.

Vice President for Research M.J. Soileau credited the achievement of the $100 million milestone to the efforts of outstanding researchers and the support provided by the university through matching funds and also start-up grants that help newly hired professors equip their labs. Other matching funds are provided through the Florida High-Tech Corridor Council.

Longtime faculty members and administrators also work with junior professors on grant applications to improve their chances of getting funding, Soileau said.

"This year is an exceptional year, and it's a reflection on our faculty and the support that we provide," he said. "We're helping them get started, and we're providing them with investments that help to make the university more competitive."

Other factors also help UCF compete for different types of grants. The university's emphasis on involving undergraduates in research strengthens its applications with the National Science Foundation, for example, while UCF's extensive partnerships with industry and the military help the university compete for grants from the Department of Defense, Soileau said.

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