UI external funding reaches $515.8 million

UI external funding reaches $515.8 million

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Gains seen in transportation and other basic science research support
Vehicle in the National Advanced Driving SimulatorIndustry partnerships—including projects that utilize the UI's National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS)—are a particular area of growth for University of Iowa external funding, much of which supports research. Photo courtesy of NADS.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason on Friday announced that total external funding rose to $515.8 million in Fiscal Year 2014, a 1.9 percent ($9.5 million) increase over the previous year.

UI Vice President for Research and Economic Development Daniel Reed said research funding, which makes up a majority of external funding, rose 1.8 percent (or $7.3 million). And he said the funding portfolio is more diverse, reflecting gains in support for transportation and other basic research.

'We are particularly pleased that our researchers are more aggressively establishing partnerships with industry.'- Dan Reed, vice president for research and economic development

The announcement was made at a news conference at the UI Research Park’s National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS).

“Despite a challenging economic climate, we not only maintained our external funding but saw an overall increase of more than $9 million,” Mason said. “This is a result of the collective work of many people, including the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the UI Foundation, investigators, our state and federal relations staff, and our legislative and congressional delegations.”

Reed said competition for limited research dollars is at an all-time high across the country. He said UI researchers have responded “by playing a new game, seeking additional sources of support, and forging new partnerships.”

Some of the larger gains in external funding in FY14 included:

  • Industry/corporate (foreign and domestic): Up $10.2 million, or 13.2 percent
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): Up $2.1 million, or 14.4 percent
  • U.S. Department of Transportation: Up $1.1 million, or 47.5 percent
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Up $264,026, or 36.5 percent
  • Iowa local government/school districts: Up $210,926, or 45.5 percent

In FY 2014, the UI received external funding from 157 new sponsors; NSF funding alone included 39 new awards totaling $9.7 million.

“We are particularly pleased that our researchers are more aggressively establishing partnerships with industry,” Reed said. “Industry funding is up 13.2 percent for FY 2014, continuing a five-year upward trend in industry-sponsored research.”

Reed said one prominent area where the UI is building corporate engagement is in its vehicle safety research, primarily through the NADS. Developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Reed said, NADS is “the most sophisticated research-driving simulator in the world and offers the world’s highest fidelity real-time driving simulation experience.”

In fact, NADS officials just completed a yearlong project to upgrade the driving simulator's visual system. The project involved installing 16 new LED projectors and rebuilding the computer video boards and software to display richer, clearer 3D images than ever before. This coincides with the development of new software that generates more realistic pedestrians, making it one of the most realistic virtual driving experiences ever.

To speak about some of the latest vehicle research, Reed introduced Daniel V. McGehee, director of the UI Public Policy Center’s Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program. McGehee serves as principal investigator on three automotive safety grants funded last year with $17.2 million established by the Toyota Economic Loss class action settlement in California.

Projects that will result from the grants include a national survey on public perceptions of vehicle safety technologies, a national education campaign on vehicle safety technology, a study at NADS that replicates emergency events in a controlled and safe environment, and a study in the UI Department of Neurology to measure and improve younger and older driver behavior when accelerating and decelerating.

McGehee said “Our strong interdisciplinary research in automotive safety contributes significantly to the UI’s long-standing success and opens the door to future partnerships.”

One example is the potential for Iowa to become the first state to implement automated vehicle technology on its roadways.

McGehee said the combination of a business-friendly environment, Iowa Department of Transportation support, and the presence of a major research university that has a world-class driving simulator could make Iowa especially attractive to trucking companies looking for somewhere to road test advanced technologies. He said these technologies promise to improve safety and increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles, trucks in particular.

He said the UI has been involved in automated vehicle and driver-assist technology research for two decades and has a long relationship with the auto industry.

“These current and emerging partnerships will further solidify our reputation as one of the nation’s leading transportation research hubs,” he said.

Mason used Friday’s event to recognize three Iowa undergraduates who are working alongside NADS researchers this summer.

Denison native Jacob Heiden, a student in the Interdepartmental Studies Program’s Health Science Track with an entrepreneurial emphasis, is collecting data on driving studies, recruiting research participants, and monitoring subjects while they drive. Davenport native Erin Abbas, who completed a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology this spring, is continuing her work at NADS doing similar work. And Muscatine native Adrienne McKee, who is working on her Bachelor of Arts degree in computer science, is helping NADS with marketing and updating its website.

“These three young people demonstrate the talent, energy, and range of interests our students bring to their academic experience at University of Iowa campus,” Mason said. “They’re a big part of the reason why I’m convinced that our already robust and exciting research enterprise will continue to thrive. And they’re yet another example of how the University of Iowa is also the university for Iowa.”

Editors and News Directors:Video of the press conference is available for download at focus.media.uiowa.edu/shares/mediadrop/.

University of Iowa External Funding FY 2014 and 2013
Federal agency
Dept. of Agriculture
Dept. of Defense
Dept. of Health and Human Services
Dept. of Education
Dept. of Commerce
Dept. of Interior
Dept. of Transportation
Dept. of Energy
National Science Foundation
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Subtotal

Foreign federal govt
Foreign higher education
Foreign nonprofits
Higher education
Industry/corporate (foreign and domestic)
Iowa local govt/school districts
Non-Iowa state & local govt
Nonprofit organizations
State of Iowa
Other non-federal
Non-federal Subtotal


Daniel Reed, Office of Vice President for Research and Economic Development, 319-335-2132
Stephen Pradarelli, Strategic Communications, 319-384-0007


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