The National Science Foundation has honored the University of Montana as being in the top 10 in the nation for research growth.

UM is ranked No. 6 nationally for research growth among all universities with more than $100 million in research expenditures.

UM vice president for research and creative scholarship Scott Whittenburg has details about the distinction.

“The official numbers for the amount of research at the various universities around the country has just come out,” said Whittenburg. “All the research universities in the country report their numbers to the National Science Foundation and they make those numbers available in a public database. I was able to go in and look to see how much that growth had been for us versus other universities around the country. I knew our number was actually quite good in terms of the amount of growth, but I didn't know how good, so I was able to pull those numbers and see that we're number six in the country among universities that are doing at least $100 million worth of research each year.”

Whittenburg provided details of the UM research.

“We've gotten a quite a bit of funding for both Coronavirus for vaccine development and for the opioid vaccine, so that whole grouping of projects related to vaccine development is a big area for us,” he said.

Whittenburg said the university if also collaborating on research for the U.S. military.

“We also have a really large one project that's been funded by the Army Corps of Engineers to look at floods in the upper Missouri region,” he said. “There are about five states up here that the federal government is interested in, and the good thing for us and for the state is that project is also about drought and drought monitoring, so it also impacts the rancher farmers in the state. That one's about $22 million over five years.”

Whittenburg said he has already looked into the future for UM research, and that future is very promising.

“We have metrics that we look at that predict how we're going to be doing for the next several years,” he said. “Those metrics are also up the number of proposals for the amount of money that we're asking for from the feds. This year is twenty percent higher than our record from the previous year, so we know we're asking for more. Our faculty are writing really great proposals that tend to get funded, so therefore we have a pretty good idea that our research numbers will continue to grow for the next three, four or five years.”

The National Science Foundation is the national repository for data on research activity for 725 institutions of higher education across the nation.


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