MSU Grant Expenditures Hold Steady
by Annette Trinity-Stevens
Grant and contract expenditures at Montana State University held steady for the fiscal
year that ended June 30, 2001.
The total for fiscal year 2001 was $61,023,165, within a few thousand dollars of the previous
year's record high of $61,031,150.
Tom McCoy, MSU's vice president for research, said this year's total shows that MSU continues
to be a significant player as a research university and a major component of the local economy.
"For an institution of this size without a medical school, MSU is one of the top research
universities," McCoy said. "I'm proud of the research and creative activities conducted by
our productive and highly talented faculty."
A breakdown of expenditures by department and college showed no real surprises. The chemistry
and biochemistry, physics, plant sciences, microbiology and veterinary molecular biology
departments continued to have the greatest research expenditures with between $3 million
and $4 million dollars each.
Centers such as the Center for Biofilm Engineering, the Spectrum Lab, the Thermal Biology
Institute and the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) also had expenditures that reached
into the millions.
The Biofilm Center studies microbes that cause chronic infections and a host of industrial problems.
The Spectrum Lab is developing sophisticated computing capabilities. The WTI is working on making
rural travel safer and more reliable, while the Thermal Biology Institute studies organisms that
can survive the intense heat and acidity of Yellowstone National Park's geothermal areas.
MSU grant expenditures have been on a steep upward climb for more than a decade. In 1987,
expenditures totaled $13 million. That figure had doubled by 1993 and doubled again, to $52
million, by 1998.
The majority of the dollars--typically about 66 percent--come from federal agencies such as the
National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health
and Human Services. The rest come from state agencies and private sources.
Traditionally nearly two-thirds of the total grant expenditures pay the salaries of faculty,
staff, students and others who work on the grant-funded projects, making university research
one of Bozeman's major employers. About 10 percent of research expenditures pay for student
fellowships and scholarships.
Grants also provide funds for campus infrastructure, including the purchase of state-of-the-art
equipment and the development of modern research and teaching facilities.
McCoy said expenditures are just one measure of research activity on the Bozeman campus. Some
projects lead to new products or processes that can be commercialized by Montana companies. Many
other research projects lead to books, musical recordings, artwork and other contributions to the
nation's cultural heritage.
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