|by Annette Trinity-Stevens
Grant dollars at Montana State University in Bozeman totaled $61 million for the fiscal year that
ended June 30, 2000.
That's an $11.2 million, or 22.5 percent, increase over the previous fiscal year, which ended
with a total of $49.7 million.
Nearly every college on campus posted increases in grant dollars, which pay for a wide variety
of research, education and student projects.
Faculty compete for the funds by submitting their ideas for projects to the competitive grants
program of various agencies. 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.
Nearly two-thirds of this year's $61-million total, or $39 million, paid the salaries of faculty,
staff, students and others who work on the grant-funded projects.
"With a payroll of nearly $40 million, the MSU grants and contracts enterprise is a major
contributor to the economy of Bozeman and Montana," said MSU vice president for research
Grant-funded programs provide skilled jobs for employees and graduates, and some projects lead to
new products or processes that can be commercialized by Montana companies, he said.
"This increase is a powerful testimonial to the superb quality of MSU's faculty," McCoy said.
About $5.2 million of the total supported students in the form of scholarships, fellowships and
stipends. Nearly all the campus's research and teaching facilities and labs, including last year's
upgrade of chemistry instrumentation, have been purchased with grant funds.
Last year's grant-funded projects included:
- More than $6 million in the physics department, including one project that resulted in a new
product for a Bozeman laser optics company;
- Technical assistance to the state's manufacturers through the Montana Manufacturing Extension
- Studies of infectious diseases, including the food-borne Norwalk virus and HIV, in the veterinary
molecular biology and microbiology departments.
- $330,000 for student research and education projects through the MSU American Indian Research
- $4.4 million for studies in plant breeding, plant diseases and unique thermal microbes that live
in Yellowstone National Park;
- $245,000 for study abroad and other international education programs for students and faculty.
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,
Last year the figures temporarily dropped back to just under $50 million, owing to the completion
of the Ag/BioScience Facility and one-time expenditures related to the "green building" project.
Those two projects temporarily inflated the 1998 totals by $6.8 million.
McCoy also credited strong support from Montana's congressional delegation for some of the growth
in MSU research expenditures last year. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Montana
Sen. Conrad Burns has been an influential supporter of cutting-edge research programs at MSU,
including the Thermal Biology Institute, which studies organisms that can survive the intense heat
and acidity of Yellowstone National Park's geothermal areas, and the Spectrum Lab, which is
developing sophisticated computing capabilities.
Annette Trinity-Stevens is the MSU Research Editor.