Highlights from a year of excellence in research

Collage of Annual Report story images

Last month, the University of Minnesota’s annual State of Research report highlighted a research enterprise that continues to grow, driven by greater diversification of funding sources and enhanced public-private partnership.

The report, produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research, also highlighted several ongoing research projects that are advancing knowledge across a wide variety of fields. These efforts are shedding light on youth brain function, boosting computing technology, exploring new mining processes and improving transportation systems.

Below, Inquiry explores each of these projects and their potential to benefit society. Continue reading

The future of research universities: Q&A with departing VP Brian Herman

Vice President Brian Herman

In 2013, Brian Herman, Ph.D., joined the University of Minnesota as its vice president for research.

During his tenure, Herman helped the U’s research enterprise continue to grow by diversifying funding sources, increasing public-private partnership and enhancing protections for human research participants. His recent report to the Board of Regents highlighted, among other accomplishments, research funding at record levels and thriving technology commercialization and economic development efforts.

Now, four years later, Herman is preparing to transition out of the Office of the Vice President for Research and join the College of Science and Engineering faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. In the Q&A below, Herman discusses the progress of the U’s research enterprise and the future of public research universities. Continue reading

University research enterprise continues to grow

Glass windows on the side of a building

The University of Minnesota’s research enterprise continues to grow, driven by greater diversification of funding sources and enhanced public-private partnership.

At today’s Board of Regents meeting, Vice President for Research Brian Herman delivered this message as part of his annual Status of University Research and Commercialization of Intellectual Property report. The report summarized the U’s research metrics for the 2016 fiscal year, documenting trends in research productivity, scholarship and technology commercialization. It also noted the progress of strategic priorities that build the University’s research strength and work to eliminate barriers to research success. Continue reading

A year of excellence in research

Excellence in research

Is this year’s State of Research report, Brian Herman, the University of Minnesota’s vice president for research, illustrated how the U’s research enterprise has continued to thrive and reached record funding levels despite the challenging federal funding environment. Along the way, Vice President Herman highlighted examples of research excellence among faculty and staff researchers.

Here are a few of these examples, which demonstrate how research is helping advance medicine, technology and an understanding of the social world.

Continue reading

The State of University Research

Northrop Auditorium

By Brian Herman

Last week, I was proud to provide some good news to the Board of Regents in our Annual Report on the State of Research at the U. I hit on high marks for our research enterprise that are a tribute to the creative and dedicated people of our research community (faculty, staff and students) who continue to advance academic scholarship, address global challenges and develop breakthrough research.

In the past year, the University attracted record levels of competitively awarded funding. Our researchers were awarded $754 million in externally sponsored research awards, up nearly 2 percent from FY2014. This represents a record level of funding for the University (when one-time funds from the 2009 federal stimulus bill are discounted) and is part of a long-term upward trend. Over 10 years, the University has seen a 31 percent increase in external awards. This year we also saw the value of a diversified research funding portfolio as a dip in federal awards, our largest source of research support, to the University were more than compensated for by funds from non-federal sources. Continue reading

10 reasons our research enterprise is thriving

Creating Ideas

By Brian Herman

Last week, I presented the annual state of research report for the University of Minnesota to our Board of Regents.

And I had good news.

Despite increasing competition for federal awards and a persistently difficult funding climate, the university, in partnership with its faculty, students, research community and external stakeholders, saw growth in nearly all performance measures in FY2014. These results show a strong research enterprise that has sustained its high ranking among an elite group of public research institutions and is outperforming its peers in the Big Ten.

Continue reading

VP Herman presents 2013 research report, announces new strategic plan

The State of Research

Vice President for Research Brian Herman presented the annual State of Research report to the Board of Regents today and also announced a new five-year plan to advance the U’s research enterprise.

While the annual report shows a flat growth trend from 2009 to 2013 in all funding sectors, the U of M maintained its high ranking among the top 10 research institutions and showed promising growth in some key areas such as technology commercialization and public-private partnerships.

The national picture of flattening award funding for research, a result of erratic government policies and long-term federal disinvestment in research, threatens to become the “new normal” for research institutions across the U.S. Despite this troubling trend, the U sustained its ranking among an elite group of research institutions in fiscal 2013, receiving the third highest award amount in the Big 10, having successfully competed for more than $693 million in sponsored research funding.

Through its technology commercialization efforts, the university signed 55 new sponsored research agreements with industry partners and spun off a record number 14 startup companies, up from just two in fiscal 2008. In addition, new mechanisms to increase industry partnerships, such as the expanded Minnesota Innovation Partnerships, or MN-IP, have helped bolster the U’s research portfolio. While the current research environment remains strong, Dr. Brian Herman, the U’s vice president for research, said the university needs to innovate and advance the research mission beyond the constraints posed by the flat-growth trajectory of federal funding.

“The university continues to be a driving force for innovation and discovery,” Herman said. “However, we must not allow ourselves to define success only through the lens of federal funding. The measure of success lies in making efficient use of our resources, growing meaningful and robust partnerships at the university and with non-university organizations to create new knowledge, and establishing the U as a leader and convener of these new ideas in order to solve the looming and significant challenges of the future.”

During the presentation, Herman also  announced a new five-year plan for research that will keep the university competitive as federal support fluctuates, as well as maintain research leadership in solving some of the world’s largest challenges.

The strategic plan, Five Years Forward through Collective Inspiration and Discovery, focuses on a central vision of “bringing people together in new ways, fostering discovery and making our world a better place.” Key themes of the plan include enhancing research excellence, advancing transdisciplinary partnerships, accelerating transfer of knowledge for the public good and promoting a culture of serendipity.

To implement the vision and objectives of the strategic plan, the university will focus on strengthening ties between industry, academia and government to ensure that the university continues to hold a significant role in the state’s economic, social and physical infrastructure.

“By embracing change and building upon the university’s existing strengths, we can unlock the tremendous potential to refine and transform our research enterprise in a way that will advance research, increase our competitive advantage nationally and internationally, and generate new knowledge and discoveries to make our world a better place,” Herman said.

Learn more about the 2013 annual report and watch a video of VP Herman’s presentation.

Learn more about the strategic plan, Five Years Forward.

Originally published on Research @ the U of M.