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Rounding up a successful year of research

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Senior Research Communications Specialist | 405-744-5827 |

In 2022, Oklahoma State University posted record grant numbers and marked the creation of new facilities, institutes, and partnerships across the state and nation. 

President Kayse Shrum said these milestones are exciting but not surprising for OSU, which continues to improve lives through the power of research and the land-grant mission. 

“At OSU, we believe in the power of research and are focused on how we can use research to improve lives and address society’s grand challenges. In 2022, we celebrated record grant funding and the creation of exciting new cross-disciplinary entities, like the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE), the Hamm Institute for American Energy at Oklahoma State University and the Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute, which will enhance educational experiences at OSU and expand the reach and scope of our public impact research efforts. I am inspired by the dedication and ambition of our researchers, both faculty and students, and their commitment to the land-grant mission.” 

In the first quarter of the 2023 fiscal year (July-Sept ‘22), OSU grant and contracts awarded have already totaled over $32 million. If this current  rate is sustained the total amounts awarded during the 2023 fiscal year would be more than double over the previous year.

Likewise, during the 2022 fiscal year OSU faculty exceeded the prior three year average for grants over a million dollars by 47%.

In brief, OSU has seen an increase in total grant funding and the opportunities faculty are going for, by a lot.

Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research, credits the increase to a number of things, including COVID-19, ambitious faculty and a solid foundation.

“Believe it or not, during COVID, our faculty took advantage of slightly different work patterns and began writing proposals at a much higher rate,” he said. “And their increased focus is paying off.” 

The other piece comes from a culture of “swinging for the fences” that Sewell has seen develop over the years at OSU, he added. 

“We're still getting a normal amount — if not an increase — of our typical awarded grants, but we're experiencing a higher number of people going after very large grants,” Sewell said. “And it's paying off.”

This year’s success is not a surprise, though. It’s growing out of a strong foundation in core research areas.

“These investments that we've made over the past several years to create these strengths are already paying off,” Sewell said. “I see OSU taking our strengths and putting new resources and support into them and allowing them to begin growing like this. So, as we continue to use our resources like this, it's going to bend the curve that much further; it's all based upon leveraging our strengths.”

Outside of grants, OSU is also making its faculty, and their expertise, more available to the public through the new Experts Directory.

A faculty profile system that provides a single point of organization, presentation and up-to-date reporting of scholarly activities across OSU, the directory — often referred to as just Experts — makes finding experts and tracking publications easier than ever before.

“We’re very excited to see a growing number of OSU faculty continue to use Experts to showcase their work and to make connections with colleagues both on campus and off,” said Matt Upson, associate dean for research and learning services at the OSU Library. “Improving our ability to demonstrate meaningful impact and make vital connections to OSU research across disciplines and for the general public is a key priority and strength of the library.”

The directory plays a large part in that effort, he said. Currently there are 644 public profiles, an increase of over 200 from the beginning of the year. 

“We’ve already supported numerous efforts to increase collaboration, networking and improve our ability to compete for funding using Experts as the tool that can make those tasks more comprehensive and inclusive,” Upson said. 

When it comes to profile curation and documenting scholarly activity, there has also been an uptick. Since January:

  • 614 faculty had at least one Sustainable Development Goal added to their profile — a metric that helps highlight who is engaged in tackling some of society's biggest challenges
  • 995 professional activities were added in 2022
  • 15,697 publications were added
  • 1,020 grants were added

Experts has proven to be a useful tool outside the university as well with almost 80,000 clicks in Google results during 2022 and many outside news organizations utilizing and linking back to the site.

“These types of opportunities will only increase as more faculty actively curate their profiles and engage with the system,” Upson said.

OSU’s growth does not stop here, though, as there is always room to go further and do more, Sewell said. And the university plans to continue to support that growth.

“We're investing in support for these faculty who are going after big grants and projects,” he said. “This involves grant writing assistance and project management assistance — particularly in our priority areas.”

The goal is developing a robust team that enables everyone to succeed in their role. 

“We're not just depending on our researchers to do everything, we're putting people around them so that they can be the brains and let other people be the brawn on a lot of these things,” Sewell said. “We hope to use this success as a proof point and provide more support so that our faculty aren't going to get maxed.”

While celebrating the hard work of faculty and success of the university is important, at the end of the day what really matters is who the real beneficiaries are, Sewell added.

“It's our students and the state of Oklahoma — and by students, I mean of our students  — they are able to take their classes and interact with faculty and graduate students that are at the forefront of their field and are creating solutions that impact the entire community and nation,” he said.

Interested in the research process at OSU?

Although the concept of research is often associated with laboratory sciences, research at a comprehensive university like Oklahoma State takes place in virtually all disciplines.

Learn more about how grants are received and research is developed in this article from our newest edition of Research Matters magazine!

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