NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma has broken another record, setting a new all-time high for sponsored research awards to its Norman campus. Sponsored research, or research funded by organizations outside of the university, is a vital part of the mission of large public research universities to create and disseminate new knowledge that impacts society and changes lives.
“Achieving another record-setting year for research is a strong indicator of the University of Oklahoma’s exceptional trajectory as a world-changing leader in innovation, research and collaboration,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “This milestone stands as a testament to the remarkable ability of our research community to translate their expertise into real-world impacts, fostering confidence and attracting transformational investments from our external partners.”
Over fiscal year 2023, OU’s Norman campus reported receiving $210.4 million in research funding, a nearly 33% increase from the previous fiscal year. Significantly, federally funded research increased by more than 50%, including significant increases in funding from several key federal agencies supporting OU research.
“The tremendous growth in federally sponsored research indicates that our strategic research framework in support of the ‘Lead On, University’ Strategic Plan, along with our strategy to diversify OU’s research portfolio, is being successful,” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “Growth in research at the university means important work is being done to solve the greatest challenges facing our state, nation and the world, with increasing opportunities for our students to gain experience in research areas with high societal impact.”
Some of the most significant research awards received in FY23 include OU’s role in the Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster, which received $35 million through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge of the U.S. Economic Development Association – $24.9 million of which is supporting four OU-led projects.
In 2023, eight junior faculty at OU received prestigious “CAREER” awards from the National Science Foundation to establish their research programs, breaking the previous university record of six faculty receiving CAREER awards in a single year.
Department of Defense-sponsored research has seen the largest year-over-year increase, with OU researchers leading various projects ranging from advanced radar development to artificial intelligence applications in supply chain resiliency and additive manufacturing supporting the U.S. Air Force’s sustainment of weapons systems readiness.
Researchers on the Norman campus saw a 10% increase in funding from the National Institutes of Health for several highly competitive research grants. Researchers received funding for nine new “R01” grants from the NIH in FY23. NIH funds only approximately 20% of all R01 proposals submitted.
Recent funding from the Department of Education has enabled new research efforts to support student parents; training for rural Oklahoma educators to address shortages of school-based behavior analysts, counselors and social workers; and many other research projects.
Within OU’s “energy, environment and sustainability” research focus, several projects received industry support and federal funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy to explore hydrogen-based energy solutions that avoid carbon dioxide emissions. Other projects funded by the Department of Energy involve improving ways to monitor and mitigate methane emissions and the development of geothermal energy testbeds supporting industry, municipalities and tribal communities.
In April 2023, three OU projects received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. These projects will support the expansion of and improvements to a free online database of Coptic language and literature, the development of an interactive website developed at OU providing access to Indigenous media in collaboration with tribal heritage communities, and research on Aymara Indigenous communities’ relationships with melting glaciers in the Bolivian Andes.
OU has been on a trajectory of research growth over the past several years, setting and breaking records for research awards and expenditures since the implementation of the university’s Strategic Plan, which defines goals to “become a top-tier public research university” and “enrich and positively impact Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through research and creative activity” as two of the plan’s five pillars.
For fiscal year 2022, OU reported a 9% increase in research expenditures on its Norman campus to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey, marking continued year-over-year growth in research expenditures since implementing the “Lead On” plan.
Learn more about OU’s strategic research framework and research impacts at ou.edu/research.
About the University of Oklahoma Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships
The University of Oklahoma is a leading research university classified by the Carnegie Foundation in the highest tier of research universities in the nation. Faculty, staff and students at OU are tackling global challenges and accelerating the delivery of practical solutions that impact society in direct and tangible ways through research and creative activities. OU researchers expand foundational knowledge while moving beyond traditional academic boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and globally with other research institutions as well as decision makers and practitioners from industry, government and civil society to create and apply solutions for a better world. Find out more at ou.edu/research.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit ou.edu.