NC State researchers have boosted federal research grant awards over 19% in the past year, and almost 37% over the past five years—this in spite of level or lower research budgets for most federal agencies in recent years. “It’s very gratifying to see these results since increasing federal funding has been our specific goal,” says vice chancellor for research John Gilligan. “The spike in new research support comes at a critical time for NC State as it continues to enhance its national reputation as well as its graduate programs,” adds Chancellor James L. Oblinger.

Faculty in four colleges—Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and Agriculture and Life Sciences—are the big winners. “We’re careful not to get too excited over a one-year increase,” the College of Engineering’s research dean Sarah Rajala cautions. “But seeing the rising trend of 39% over five to ten years tells us that faculty are submitting more proposals and having greater success. I attribute the increase in federal funding for our college to the hard work of our faculty.”

The College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences saw a 19% increase in federal dollars in 2004-05, largely due to funding for nanotechnology, statistics, microelectronics, and coastal ocean research. “We’re particularly proud that our Statistics Department received a second-phase, $1.59 million grant from NSF’s Vertical Integration of Research and Education program,” says research dean Ray Fornes. “It comes at an important time in helping the U.S. maintain its international leadership in the mathematical sciences.”

In the College of Veterinary Medicine, a $5 million USDA food safety grant awarded this year pushed the college’s federal support total to an unprecedented level. However, research dean Neil Olson points to his college’s 60% increase in federal support over the past five years. “It’s the result of a deliberate strategy to recruit new faculty who will raise the college’s research profile,” he says. “We took the gamble of combining university bond money with internal funds to build a state-of-the-art laboratory facility to draw high-caliber researchers—and it paid off.”

Steve Leath, research dean in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, is quick to agree with Olson about the payoff for hiring young, aggressive faculty with high-value research ideas. “We had three departments with relatively low, flat funding that have seen immediate funding increases from new researchers recruited in the last few years.” Leath says faculty in all departments have had a highly productive year (up 39% in 2004-05) when it comes to effective targeting of federal proposals. “We seem to have had more success than most of our peer institutions this year.”