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The UT Knoxville Office of Research & Engagement publishes annual and quarterly reports that document significant achievements and trends in research grants and contracts.

FY16 Annual Report (cover)The Office of Research and Engagement’s fiscal year 2016 data reveals an increasingly competitive world for federal funding. Despite this, our work with the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy remains strong, and we continue to grow our National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense portfolios. There are many efforts under way to expand our funding base, some of which are highlighted in the “What We Do Well” section of this report.

At the heart of all we do are the students. At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, we have an active community of undergraduate researchers that has shown exponential growth since FY2014. This year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA) with 247 poster presentations from departments across campus. 

More eyes are turning to UT and East Tennessee for innovations in advanced manufacturing and materials research. Appointments made through the UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chairs program in the areas of advanced manufacturing and advanced materials indicate the university’s commitment to becoming a powerhouse in these fields.

Our faculty and staff competed successfully for $154 million in externally sponsored research awards in FY2016, up 3.1 percent from FY2015. This $4.8 million increase continues a three-year growth pattern that we foresee extending into FY2017. Also continuing to trend upward was the average total amount received per award, which increased from $165,000 in FY2015 to $169,000 in FY2016.

Looking ahead, we continue to contemplate strategic opportunities and diversify our sources of funding. We look forward to the exciting research discoveries that lie ahead.

Robert Nobles II, DrPH, MPH, CIP
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement

Q1 FY18 Research Activity Report

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The total award amount received this quarter is down 19% compared to the first quarter of the FY17 (table 1, fig. 3). It is an across-the-board decrease affecting almost all colleges, centers, and institutes (table 1, fig. 10). Most of the reduction comes from federal agencies, with the biggest drop being from the National Science Foundation (fig. 5). However, it is reassuring that the total award amount this quarter was only $4.5 million less than the five-year average for the first quarter in the last five fiscal years of FY14-FY18.

Also encouraging is the increase of $8.6 million in the amount awarded by the Tennessee local and state government—$10 million in Q1 FY18 compared to the $1.4 million in Q1 FY17. The award amount received from the state represents 20% of the total awarded amount received this quarter (fig. 7).

Looking at the total research expenditures, most of our colleges, centers and institutes have displayed slight to significant increases in the total amount expended on Research and Development (R&D) this quarter compared to the Q1 FY17. The Tickle College of Engineering and UT Space Institute both exhibit a growing trend in their total R&D expenditures in the last five fiscal years (table 1, fig. 11).
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FY2017 Q4 Research Report In fiscal year 2017, we saw a 4 percent increase in the total number of proposals submitted (1,725)—the largest number in UT history. The total amount requested for these submissions was $558 million, signifying an increase of 0.6 percent. UT researchers were awarded $166 million in FY17, representing a $12 million—or 8 percent—increase over FY16 and the largest amount received in the last five fiscal years.

Most of this year-over-year growth resulted from a $12 million increase in federal obligations. Federal Agencies accounted for 66 percent of the total sponsored obligations or $109 million and of the 30 funding agencies tracked by National Science Foundation  Higher Education Research and Development Survey (NSF HERD), Department of Energy (DOE) and National Science Foundation (NSF) accounted for 71 percent of our total award dollars. Looking at the specific federal agencies, the largest advance came from DOE – up $7 million compared to last year. We also received $4 million from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which represents the largest amount ever received from NASA in a given fiscal year.

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ORE FY17 Q3 Research SummaryDuring the third quarter of FY17, in addition to the funding of projects from the federal government, we saw increases of awards from non-profit, for-profit, and foreign organizations to support our research enterprise. This is encouraging as we continue our momentum towards the Top 25.

One particular project of interest during this quarter was awarded to Uma Rao, Betsey R. Bush Endowed Professor of Behavioral Health and director of UT’s Center for Behavioral Health Research. Rao submitted a proposal to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to investigate the “Ethnic Influences on Stress, Energy Balance and Obesity in Adolescents.”  This research will be beneficial in developing future programs to assist individuals with weight control interventions and obesity prevention.

Click the image to view or download the First Quarterly Research Report of FY17 for the Office of Research and Engagement.

ORE FY17 Q2 Research SummaryDuring the second quarter of FY17, the Office of Research and Engagement continued to assist in several proposal submissions and to receive several awards from external sponsors to support proposed projects.

One of the projects awarded this quarter was for a proposal submitted to the National Institute of Justice by Giovanni Vidoli, research assistant professor of anthropology and assistant director of the Forensic Anthropology Center, entitled “Implications of Three-Dimensional Laser Scanned Images for the Criminal Justice System.” The goal of this project is to provide quantitative data on a layperson’s and forensic professional’s interpretation and assessment of traditional scene documentation and 3D laser scanned representations of potential crime scenes.

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