Expenditures for research at Colorado State Univerity reached $317.2 million in fiscal year 2015, according to SOURCE.
Funding for research at CSU comes from a variety of different sources, both federal and non-federal. Non-federal sources for funding include the State of Colorado, non-profit organizations and local government. Federal sources include the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.
Meagan Schipanski, assistant professor of soil and crop sciences, said her research on crop systems was dependent on external grants and funding sources, including a recent $1 million Natural Resource Conservation Service grant. Funding helps with expenses such as paying graduate students.
“Without research grants, it’s a bunch of faculty sitting around that can’t get as much work done as we can do when we get funding,” Schipanski said.
The United States Department of Agriculture research expenditures were $37.5 million.
To receive funding through grants from the USDA and the NSF, a proposal process is required. To apply for a grant from NRCS, an agency within USDA, Schipanski submitted a 20-page proposal that was reviewed by a board of professionals who make funding recommendations. The proposal process usually takes about six months to complete.
The NSF is a prime source of research funding at CSU. National Science Foundation expenditures were $31.7 million in FY 2015. This figure is up from $31.6 million in 2014, according to Public Relations Communications Coordinator Mary Guiden.
Cameron Ghalambor, who is doing research on the evolution of guppies, relied on a NSF grant for funding. Ghalambor said the process for applying for an NSF grant includes a five-page pre-proposal. The proposals are read by three people on a panel and are sent out externally for review by people who are familiar with that particular area. Based on internal and external reviews, proposals are then ranked and put into categories based on funding competitiveness.
Ghalambor said NSF has not kept up with the inflation of funding needs.
“Each year, it gets more expensive to do research,” Ghalambor said. “It gets more expensive to hire students and hire technicians, to travel, all of those things, but the amount of money coming in has either stayed constant, (or) in most cases, it’s gone down with budget cuts and everything. So, just in the last, say, 10 to 15 years, the funding rate has gone from, say, 15 to 20 percent to 6 or 7 percent. That just means that there’s a lot fewer people who are doing research with NSF money.”
Ghalambor said if he would not have received a new grant, he would not have been able to continue researching.
“The stars were shining on me because the previous grant — the guppy grant that I had — ended, like, last month,” Ghalambor said. “I had applied for a grant the previous year to continue some guppy research, and that grant was not funded. I got a call from NSF, and I thought they were going to tell me that my pre-proposal was going to be accepted so I was excited. …When you get a call from NSF, it’s usually good news, not bad news. But to my surprise, they said, ‘Oh, you know, that grant you submitted last year didn’t get funded. We now found extra money and we can fund you.'”
Alan Rudolph said in a SOURCE article that despite the difficulties with research, it is inspiring to see researchers work hard.
“You don’t have to look hard to find headlines that describe what’s happening across the country with the decline in federal research dollars,” Rudolph said. “It is inspiring to see that CSU faculty, researchers, graduate students and staff have worked very hard to combat the current challenges. The payoff for taxpayers and the average citizen will come in the form of research findings that will truly make a difference, around the world.”
Collegian Science Reporter Seth Bodine can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sbodine120.