The 2000-01 fiscal year was another banner year for Binghamton University research, with research and scholarly projects bringing in $23.5 million in external funding, the largest total in the University’s history and a 16 percent increase over the previous year.
“Our continued extraordinary growth in research across the disciplines is a reflection of the intellectual energy on this campus,” said Frances E. Carr, vice president for research. “From the humanities and social sciences to nursing, education, and the sciences and engineering, we’re moving ahead with our plans to enhance the contribution of research — to the academic mission and to the vitalization of the community in terms of quality of life and economic development.”
The 2000-01 upturn marks the third year of double-digit growth and piggybacks on a more than 14 percent increase in awards in 1999-2000. It also continues a 33-year trend that has been characterized, particularly during the past 10 years, by sharp increases in external funding and a move toward more complex, interdisciplinary and collaborative projects. Federal awards were also up 9 percent to a record high of more than $11 million, from last year’s $10.2 million.
The University’s 19 organized research centers were responsible for just over 50 percent of the awards, with the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, the Center for Developmental Psychobiology and the Public Archaeology Facility posting the top totals of $5.08 million, $2.76 million and $2.73 million, respectively.
“Our strengths on this campus are not only grounded in traditional disciplines,” Carr said. “Because of our size and our sense of community, we have a unique campus culture that allows us to ask questions differently and to look at discovery as a process that is supported and enhanced by multidisciplinary collaborations.”
Among the University’s five schools, Harpur College led the way in securing external awards with a total of about $10.9 million, a 7 percent increase over last year. Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science posted a gain of 37 percent, with total awards of more than $7.7 million. Watson is expected to continue as a major source of growth in external awards, as new programs in bioengineering and materials science and engineering are established.
For every dollar expended in sponsored activity, the University receives 20 cents from the State University of New York. This revenue stream helps to maintain the University as a whole, Carr noted.
Binghamton’s percentage of industrial support, which this year accounted for 13.5 percent of external funding, is on the high side of the norm for research institutions, which generally average between 9 and 15 percent in industrial support.
In support of the University’s research mission, the research division recently hired three new staff members: Donald Colbert, associate vice president for technology transfer and economic development; Sharon Sickles, laboratory animal veterinarian and director of research compliance; and Richard McCarthy, grant and contract administrator. McCarthy will help with the increased workload from a near doubling of applications for external awards in the past three years.
Colbert will work with faculty to facilitate the transfer of new discoveries to the larger community. Last year, faculty research gave rise to a record eight inventions, several of which are expected to provide the cornerstone for new faculty enterprises, including University-incubated companies.
The establishment of the new Advanced Biotechnologies Center will allow the University to continue its momentum in three important areas, Carr said: biomedicine and bioinformatics; bioengineering and materials science; and applied health and environmental technologies. Robert VanBuskirk, former chair of the Biology Department, was recently appointed director of the Advanced Biotechnologies Center.