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Discovery Discovery October 2001

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MSU Grant Expenditures Hold Steady


by Annette Trinity-Stevens

MSU Grant Expenditures

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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