Research funding increases

Kiera Manion-Fischer

External funding for faculty research and other projects has grown significantly in the past fiscal year – from $26.6 million to $32.6 million. This represents an increase of $6 million.

Provost Robert Frank, however, doesn’t want it to stop there.

He and President Lester Lefton hope to double the external research funding of the university.

“That’s not something we’ll do in one year,” he said.

Frank will accomplish this by providing more feedback to faculty who submit grant proposals and improving review of those proposals.

Charlee Heimlich, director of sponsored programs, said funding comes from a variety of sources, including federal and state agencies, industrial sources and private foundations.

“Part of the university’s mission is to enhance research and creative endeavor,” Heimlich said.

Becky Hayes, assistant director of sponsored programs, said the majority of funding comes from federal agencies.

She said the increase in funding extends the university’s visibility as a research institution.

Frank said there had been a drop in funding several years ago.

“Now we’re back to our highest level ever,” he said.

There are benefits to students for increasing research funding, Frank said.

“Students want to be in classes that are being taught by people creating the discoveries that change the world,” he said.

Hayes said most faculty try to keep the students involved in their research efforts.

John Gunstad, assistant professor of psychology, received a grant of approximately $1.5 million from the National Institute of Health. The money was used for a four-year study on the effects of weight loss surgery.

“Students have the opportunity to learn how to do research projects, learn how to write their own grants and be involved in the scientific process,” he said.

Stevan Hobfoll, professor of psychology, will receive approximately $2.5 million total for a four-year study of the psychological effects of terrorism on civilians in Israel and Palestine.

“Unfortunately terrorism is a growing industry,” he said. “If academia is responsible it’s going to respond to this growing crisis.”

Hobfoll said he has a number of graduate students working on data analysis for the project at Kent State and in Israel.

“When a student is working with a faculty member on a research project, that student’s intellectual perspective is broadened,” Heimlich said.

She said the current university administration has created an atmosphere that encourages faculty research endeavors.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].