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NSF survey puts University in top 10 in U.S. for industry-funded research

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is ranked 143rd in the nation for research and development expenditures.

UL Lafayette is also among the top 10 universities in the United States for research that’s funded through partnerships with business and industry.

Both pieces of good news can be found in the Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, Survey, the National Science Foundation’s annual index of research expenditures.

NSF released its 2019 rankings earlier this month. UL Lafayette’s showing is based on the record $144.2 million it expended on R&D during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019.

The amount places the University among the top 22% of the 647 U.S. colleges and universities the 2019 HERD survey included.

The 2019 figure is a 15% increase over the previous year’s total of $124.7 million. UL Lafayette’s R&D expenditures in 2018 placed the University at 146th on the HERD index.

UL Lafayette competes against other universities for federal and state government grants, and private sector contracts. The University acts as a steward for the funds awarded to faculty and staff researchers.

Slightly more than 33.5% of the $144.2 million the University expended on R&D in 2019 was funded through industry partnerships, the HERD index showed. That total – $48.3 million – puts UL Lafayette in the top 10 for industry-funded research.

Among those 10 universities, UL Lafayette’s overall HERD ranking – 143rd – is the highest.

In 2013, the University spent $62 million in R&D and ranked 179th in the nation. By 2017, the University increased its expenditures to $100.98 million; its ranking was 153rd that year. The 2017 figure was the first time in UL Lafayette history that its R&D expenditures crossed the $100 million threshold.

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, announced the 2019 total during his annual State of the University speech in August, but NSF did not release final rankings until this month.  

The $144.2 million figure marks a 133% increase in six years, Savoie noted. The University jumped 36 spots in the rankings during the same period.

“Each research and development partnership we create with the private sector and with the state and federal governments helps sustain the momentum we’ve been building over the past several years,” Savoie said.

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru is vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development at UL Lafayette. He said recently the 2019 HERD ranking “could not have happened without the determination and passion of our faculty, research staff, and graduate students as well as the administrative staff members throughout the University who support them.”

“Our ability to continue to attract this level of R&D funding is a testament to the brainpower we have here. The hard work of our researchers has enabled the University to demonstrate – and deepen – its commitment to ‘research for a reason.’ The public impact of our research is felt locally, nationally and globally.”

Graphic credit: Courtney Jeffries / University of Louisiana at Lafayette