Outside funding jumps 20 percent

by Dale Correa | 11/5/02 6:00am

During the 2002 fiscal year, Dartmouth saw an increase of more than 20 percent in grants and external funding. The $156 million total for all awards is the highest ever for the College.

But the record-setting volume of external funding overall contrasted with a 8 percent drop in funding for the arts and sciences -- from $19.3 million inn 2001 to $17.6 million in 2002 -- and a similar 12 percent drop in grants going to the Thayer School of Engineering.

Provost Barry Scherr attributed the significant increase overall to "strong researchers," adding that Dartmouth has seen "a steady increase over the last few years."

The jump from last year's total of just over $128 million reflected in part an increase in the number of proposals written.

According to the 2002 fiscal year report by the Office of Sponsored Projects, the graduate schools brought in significantly more external funding than undergraduate programs. The medical school received 71 percent of the total compared to just 11 percent brought in by the arts and sciences.

According to the report, "While the decrease in the non-DMS sector cannot be ignored, it is explained somewhat when placed in the context of dramatic (and apparently one time) growth last year." Funding for the arts and sciences jumped 54 percent in 2001.

Projects in anesthesiology and genetics were primarily responsible for the increased funding at the medical school.

Many of the awards were for individual research projects of arts and sciences faculty as well as graduate school faculty. According to administrators, undergraduates and graduates benefit equally from the increase in funding.

Professor Howard Hughes, chair of the psychology department, said that "every single lab has at least one or two [undergraduates], some many more" in addition to the graduate students, agreeing with the notion that the funding increase has had a positive effect on undergraduate involvement in research.

Hughes remarked that his department has witnessed the steady increase in funding over the last several years.

As the "biggest generator of money" in the undergraduate sector, Hughes said, the psychology department has seen funding for projects "ranging from the study of perception to memory and emotions."

One of the psychology department's largest projects concerns a database of functional magnetic resonance imaging samples used as a valuable resource by fellow researchers.

The physics and astronomy department has also noted an increase in funding, partly as a result of new additions to the faculty. Department Chair Mary Hudson commented that the new faculty are "doing very well with sponsored research ... receiving career awards intended to enable faculty's research early on."

The department brings in approximately $2.5 million each year, an increase from the $250,000 total awards of just 10 years ago.

According to Scherr, extra funding sometimes leftover from large grants goes to the central budget for "indirect cost recovery," or "to the school where research is taking place."