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University of Oklahoma Lands in Top 7.9% among Research Universities Nationwide

University of Oklahoma Lands in Top 7.9% among Research Universities Nationwide

January 31, 2022

According to the recently published Higher Education Research and Development survey from the National Science Foundation, the University of Oklahoma ranked in the top 7.9 percentile in total research expenditures out of 915 ranked institutions nationwide for fiscal year 2020.

The HERD survey is the leading report for higher education research and development expenditures each fiscal year, providing an annual census of institutions that expended at least $150,000 for research and development in the fiscal year.

Overall research growth in FY20 for the United States increased 3.3%, the lowest annual increase since 2015. OU’s total research and development expenditures for FY20 eclipsed the nationwide average, reaching $362.2 million – a 19.7% increase from the previous fiscal year. OU now ranks No. 72 in the nation in overall research expenditures and No. 76 in research expenditures from federal funding.

“When we launched our ‘Lead On, University,’ Strategic Plan a year and a half ago, we outlined an ambitious strategy to accelerate research at OU to unprecedented levels,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Now, because of the extraordinary ingenuity and enthusiasm of our OU research community, we are reaping the results of our unrelenting pursuit of excellence. These advancements are impressive, but they are only the beginning of what is in store for research at the University of Oklahoma.”

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for research and partnerships for the OU Norman campus, noted the scope and significance of OU’s research growth.

“Our rankings for many of the HERD survey categories increased double digits, but what these numbers don’t convey are the real impacts of this research to society,” Díaz de la Rubia said. “From aerospace and defense technologies, to severe weather prediction, energy technology and environmental research, to advances in areas such as the life sciences and cancer research, artificial intelligence and quantum technology, to social science, public policy, the humanities and fine arts, OU research is changing lives, impacting communities and preparing the workforce of tomorrow. OU’s commitment to excellence in research and our Strategic Plan will ensure that we continue to grow both the scale and impact of our research enterprise.”

The University of Oklahoma also claimed the top spot in the nation for research and development in atmospheric sciences and meteorology, making OU No. 1 in the nation in research expenditures in that category and No. 6 in the overall sector of Geosciences, Atmospheric Sciences and Ocean Sciences.

OU’s NASA-funded Geostationary Carbon Observatory (GeoCarb), a first-of-its-kind space-based Earth science mission, contributed to this achievement and continued to make great progress in FY20. When the satellite is launched in 2024, it will collect 10 million daily observations of the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and solar-induced fluorescence across the Americas at a spatial resolution of about 3 to 6 miles (5 to 10 kilometers). The data will address a number of unanswered questions in carbon cycle science, with a focus on the Americas. For example, to what extent does the Amazonia basin remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in forests?

Other notable achievements include a nearly 50% increase in research and development expenditures from the previous fiscal year for the social sciences. In particular, impactful work at OU was funded by the federal government on COVID-19 misinformation and the use of technology to facilitate social distancing and coping with the disruption of COVID-19, as well as in support of the Center on American Indian and Alaska Native Genomic Research. OU now ranks No. 27 in the nation in total research expenditures in the social sciences.

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

About OU 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