Big Thinking and Partnerships Boost Research Awards - Humboldt State Now

Big Thinking and Partnerships Boost Research Awards

Over the last year, Humboldt State faculty and students had a chance to do everything from hunt rare fungi to study the impact of the state’s drought on wildlife, thanks to more than $71 million in grant funding administered and secured by HSU.

In the last fiscal year (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), HSU’s Sponsored Programs Foundation (SPF) helped make a big impact on campus research and projects, helping 103 researchers lead 440 active grant projects with a total value of $71.6 million. In that same year, the foundation submitted 271 proposals for funding, while processing more than 197 new awards. HSU received $30.2 million in new awards, up $3.8 million over the last fiscal year.

“I’m excited about the growth in research at HSU,” says Steve Karp, the Interim Dean of Research & Sponsored Programs. “Each of these research projects allows faculty to bring hands-on learning to the classroom, giving their student researchers real experience to better prepare them for their chosen career path.”

SPF attributes this increase in new awards to two factors: Thinking big and thinking about partnerships.

In recent years, HSU professors have been applying for larger awards, especially those that involve collaboration with the community. That has led to higher dollar proposals and subsequently larger awards.

For example, in 2015, Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center and Blue Lake Rancheria (a federally recognized Native American tribe), plus other partners, built a low-carbon community energy microgrid with the help of a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission.

More recently, Oceanography Professor Jeffrey Abell received a $650,000 grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to examine the dynamics of ocean acidification along the California current system and in Humboldt Bay. He’ll be working with Oregon State University, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and the Wiyot Tribe.

Recent major grants the foundation has worked on include the following grants:
• $1.3 million for Federal TRiO Upward Bound.
• $2 million from the California Social Work Education Center, the nation’s largest state coalition of social work educators and practitioners.
• $3.9 million to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) majors.

The foundation also assists in coordinating HSU’s entries to the annual CSU Research Competition and the annual HSU IdeaFest Research Poster Symposium.

According to the foundation, faculty research and students benefitted greatly from the foundation’s work, as well: 656 faculty and staff members were paid more than $7.4 million to carry out work funded by grants. Among those faculty members is Wildlife Professor Barbara Clucas, whose Terrestrial Species Stressor Monitoring project received more than $1.1 million in grants over the last year. In collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the project examines the California drought’s impact on wildlife.

Last year, HSU students involved in research projects received more than $2.4 million in wages, grant scholarships, and stipends. All told, 283 student employees completed over 52,000 hours of work on research projects.

This story was originally published on Oct. 19, 2017