Science & Technology

UGA continues R&D ascent with $571M in expenditures in FY23

Graduate student Moira Taber using a pipette to sample fluid in a laboratory biosafety cabinet. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

This marks the fifth consecutive year of growth for the university

For the second consecutive year, the University of Georgia exceeded half a billion dollars in research and development expenditures. Its $570.9 million total in fiscal year 2023 represented another record high in R&D activity and marks the fifth consecutive year of growth for the university.

Expenditures have increased, in fact, in all but one year since 2013. During that 10-year period, the university has seen an overall 63% increase in total R&D expenditures.

“Research is a vital part of our mission at the University of Georgia as the state’s flagship university and Georgia’s only land-grant and sea-grant institution,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am very grateful to our generous alumni, friends and industry partners for their support of UGA’s research enterprise and to our faculty, staff and students for their outstanding efforts to expand the boundaries of knowledge and tackle the grand challenges of our time.”

The 4.6% increase between fiscal years 2022 and 2023 came on the heels of UGA’s biggest leap in recent history — $51.7 million — between fiscal years 2021 and 2022. This remarkable growth was fueled by the recruitment of top faculty and strategic investments in research infrastructure improvements, including the completion of the Interdisciplinary STEM Research Complex in 2022 and the new Poultry Science Building dedicated last fall.

The Poultry Science Building provides a new home for UGA’s highly regarded department of poultry science, where faculty, staff and students have access to state-of-the-art labs, collaborative meeting spaces and classrooms outfitted with the latest technology. UGA will continue its efforts to modernize and expand its research infrastructure with ongoing and future renovations to buildings on Science and Ag Hill, which includes 186,000 square feet of laboratory space on the university’s South Campus.

“Our investments in faculty and world-class research facilities are critical factors in the tremendous growth of our research ecosystem and the success of our researchers and students,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The University of Georgia is building upon its well-earned reputation as a national leader in life-changing, interdisciplinary research.”

The improvements throughout UGA’s research enterprise have resulted in consistent growth in sponsored research funding from both public and private sources. Since FY13, sponsored research awards have more than doubled, growing from $138.5 million to $313.2 million in FY23. Federal funding over the 10-year period has increased by 76%, driven by funding growth from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The University of Georgia receives the largest amount of NIH funding among all of Georgia’s public research universities and is the largest recipient of NIH funding among American public universities without a medical school.

UGA investigators also continue to seek diversified sources of funding. Single-year increases in funding from key federal agencies between FY22 and FY23 included:

  • U. S. Department of the Interior: 40.2%
  • U. S. Department of Defense: 25.8%
  • U. S. Department of Energy: 16.4%
  • U. S. Department of Commerce: 14%

Funding for UGA research fuels a wide range of discovery in every school and college on campus — from vaccines that protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV) to training for school-based mental health care providers in high-need schools and integrative precision agriculture that uses technology and big data to provide for the planet’s growing population.

One project in particular, the multi-institutional Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI), received $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) via Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is managed by UT-Battelle. The DOE will provide $590 million to centers across the country over the next five years and will focus on developing sustainable aviation fuel, among other things. CBI is one of several federally supported centers with ties to UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Professor Michael Tiemeyer received a $5.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to build on GlyGen, an online database that accumulates data in glycobiology and connects it with other data types to enhance discovery and exploration for biomedical researchers.

Researchers in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences were awarded over $10.2 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, which funds farmer-driven grants and grassroots education programs resulting in climate-smart solutions for farms and ranches. UGA leads a consortium of institutions, including Fort Valley State University and The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma.

UGA’s College of Engineering received a $5 million gift from Georgia Power Company to advance the university’s work in electric mobility, or e-mobility. It is the largest single gift in the college’s history and will support research on battery technology and other topics related to e-mobility as well as education and economic development activities in this growing field.

“UGA’s continued growth in research and development activity in fiscal year 2023 demonstrates that the university’s strategic investments in research-related facilities and support programs, as well as our determined support and recruitment of world-class faculty, continue to yield benefits for the state and citizens of Georgia,” said Karen Burg, vice president for research. “Our faculty are committed to winning the resources necessary to conduct research and develop innovations that make a real difference in people’s everyday lives.”

UGA’s research mission contributes significantly to the university’s estimated $8.1 billion annual economic impact on the state of Georgia through expenditures on personnel and equipment, new products and businesses based on faculty inventions and discoveries, and cost savings realized by businesses and governments thanks to UGA research.

UGA’s FY23 research expenditures will be used to determine the university’s 2024 ranking in the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey. UGA’s FY22 R&D expenditures of $545.6 million ranked it 56th among 899 U.S. universities, up one spot from FY21, in the rankings in November 2023.