Published: Jan. 31, 2019

MSU research expenditure rankings improve

Contact(s): Melanie Kauffman Office of Research and Graduate Studies office: (517) 432-4499

Michigan State University’s research continues an upward growth trajectory, according to National Science Foundation data.

In the recently released National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development, or NSF HERD, Survey, MSU’s research expenditures for 2017 were $695 million, a 35 percent increase over 2013. The HERD number represents total research expenditures across the entire university.

Research expenditures – that is, the funds spent to conduct research – are a frequently cited basis for comparing research levels among colleges and universities.

A major contributor to the research expenditure growth was related to the MSU and U.S. Department of Energy-funded Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, known as FRIB. MSU now ranks first nationally in research expenditures attributable to the Department of Energy, or DOE, as well as research expenditures from the DOE and NSF in combination. MSU’s national rank for total research expenditures jumped from no. 36 to no. 32.

“Michigan State has made significant advances in its research capability and activity in recent years, which is something all Michiganders can be proud of,” said Satish Udpa, MSU acting president. “Our investments in 21st century research priorities are bearing fruit – not just in the knowledge we’re gaining and applying to practical uses, but in the talented faculty we’re recruiting, the federal funding pumped into the regional economy, the scientists we’re developing to confront society’s pressing problems and the rich ecosystem of discovery and innovation our undergraduates become part of.”

According to Stephen Hsu, senior vice president for research and innovation at MSU, the research expenditure number is, like any metric, only one measure of a much more complex reality.

“What it really represents is the hard work of our faculty, staff and students to discover new knowledge and create new technology to improve quality of life for all,” Hsu said. “We continue to make excellent progress and I look forward to what the future brings at this growing, thriving institution.”

Most universities ranked above MSU have major medical research complexes. In such cases, the medical research expenditure can exceed all other research on that campus combined.

McLaren Health will construct a new hospital on land recently acquired from MSU near its new biomedical research area – home to the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering, or IQ, and a soon-to-be-completed interdisciplinary science building. This will create more opportunities for health-related research projects, increasing federal health research funding and diversifying the university’s overall research portfolio.

The NSF HERD survey assesses all recipients of federal funds annually, asking about their research expenditures from all funding sources. MSU has participated in that survey since 1998. The NSF numbers constitute the most comprehensive listing of research expenditures and provide data consistency for comparison with other institutions. The most recent comparison data is the 2017 survey report.