As detailed in OARS’ recently released annual report, Miami brought in approximately $20.6 million in extramural funding in FY2014. Given a very competitive funding climate and the Federal sequestration of funds that overshadowed the first half of the fiscal year, it’s not surprising to see this slight decrease in funding from the previous year’s levels.
Federal funding rates are down, virtually across the board. At the National Science Foundation (NSF) — Miami’s largest funder — success rates are very low, between 5% and 10%, depending on the program. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2013 brought the lowest rate of grant success in the agency’s 126-year history. The cumulative result is that many meritorious ideas and innovative projects simply could not be funded.
It’s a testament to the excellence, determination, and tenacity of Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists that, despite these fiscal challenges, we were nevertheless able to bring in nearly as much funding in FY2014 as we did in FY2013. Highlights of our success include:
- A $60,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for associate professor of theater Ann Elizabeth Armstrong’s work on an interactive and location-based interpretation of the Mississippi Summer Project, the 1964 orientation for Freedom Summer activists that took place at the Western College for Women (now Miami’s Western Campus).
- A two-year grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) for assistant professor of psychology Elise Clerkin’s work to develop and evaluate an experimental intervention for individuals with co-occurring alcohol dependence and social anxiety.
- The naming of biology professors Ann Rypstra and David Berg as the U.S. partners for a project funded by Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science, a joint program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Rypstra and Berg worked with Christy Jo Geraci from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), to bring students from AUIS to Miami to participate in an undergraduate research program Rypstra, Berg, and colleagues have been running for more than a dozen years.
- A $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support efforts by the Myaamia Center to revitalize the traditional craft of ribbonwork for the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.
Important to these successes is the infrastructure that supports research and creative activity at Miami. A new indirect cost recovery distribution model introduced at the beginning of FY2014 returns a significant proportion of the indirect costs generated from an external grant award to the units where the activity originated. In this way, Miami is reinvesting in the assets responsible for generating awards, ensuring that this infrastructure is maintained, even as Federal investment in research declines.
Because discoveries are cumulative, an opportunity missed today becomes an even bigger opportunity missed tomorrow. We remain hopeful that recognition of this fact will prompt improvement in the funding climate over time. Meanwhile, we will continue working to develop effective strategies for helping Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists find and secure external funding for their work.
Written by Jim Oris, Associate Provost for Research & Scholarship, Miami University.