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Quarterly Research Report: July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018

Download the Quarterly Research Report for Q4FY18

Click to download the Quarterly Research Report for Q4FY18

Proposal Submissions

In the fiscal year 2018 (FY18) the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) submitted 1,764 proposals representing a 2% increase over the number of proposals submitted in the previous fiscal year (FY17) and a 3% increase above the five-year average number of proposals submitted in the last five fiscal years (FY14-FY18). The total dollar value of the submitted proposals was $611 million signifying a 9% increase over the amount requested in FY17.

Several colleges have contributed to the increase in the total requested amount. College of Nursing (Nur) requested the largest amount in its history ($16 million) and more than doubled the amount it requested in FY17 reflecting 122% increase in FY18. Other colleges that displayed slight to significant increases in FY18 versus FY17 amounts were College of Architecture and Design (A&D) with 46% increase, A&S – 2% increase, College of Communication and Information (C&I) – 105% increase, TCE – 12% increase, RCI- 54% increase, and the UT Space Institute (UTSI) – 12% increase.

Looking at the colleges and centers, Tickle College of Engineering (TCE) requested the largest share – 40% of the total proposal amount – followed by the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and Research Centers and Institutes (RCI) both requesting 23% each.

Awards Received

UT Researchers received $158 million in external award obligations in FY18. This amount represents a 5% decrease when compared to FY17 and a 3% increase over the five-year average award amount received during FY14-FY18. The overall 5% decrease in the FY18 award amount received was due to the 12% drop in the funds received from federal agencies ($95 million) as well as the 22% decrease in the funds received from Private Profit sponsors ($21 million). Alternatively, funds coming from TN Local and State Government (TN Government) and Higher Education Institutions (Higher Ed) displayed 83% ($22 million) and 14% ($14 million) increases respectively.

Consistent with previous years, federal agencies remained the largest source of the total obligated award dollars bringing in 60% of all obligations in FY18. Federal agencies were followed by TN Government (14%), Private Profit (13%), Higher Ed (9%), and Private Non-Profit (4%) organizations.

UT received funds from 24 federal agencies in FY18. The largest award amount came from DOE ($42 million). The second largest federal funding was from NSF ($20 million). It is important to note that this was the smallest dollar amount received from NSF since FY09. The amount received from NSF in FY18 decreased by 35% when compared to FY17.

Upon closer inspection, the data revealed that the Joint Institute of Computational Sciences (JICS) experienced the most significant decline in funds received from NSF. JICS saw major decreases in the NSF dollars over the last ten fiscal years (FY09-FY18) dropping from $39 million in FY09 to zero dollars in FY18. This decline is due to the fact that JICS has broadly diversified its funding portfolio and only submitted three proposals to NSF in FY18. A comparison of the NSF award dollars with or without JICS contribution showed an overall pattern of growth in the award amount received from NSF by all other UT units until FY18.

However, the $9 million decrease in the NSF award amount between FY17 and FY18 can also be attributed to the decreases in the NSF dollars received by several UT units including department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, and few others. The rest of the UT award admin units exhibited a steady flow of the NSF award dollars over this period of time.

In terms of the award amount composition by college or center or institute, TCE brought 43% ($68 million), the largest portion of the total award amount in FY18. The next two units by the share of the total award amount were A&S with 21% ($34 million) and RCI with 11% ($17 million).

Analysis of the award amounts, showed that some of the colleges displayed increases in FY18 award amount when compared to FY17. Most notable are the increases of TCE (11% increase) and UTSI (95% increase). Both of these units displayed persistent growth in the award amounts received in the last ten fiscal years (FY09-FY18). Additionally TCE’s FY18 award amount was the largest amount received in its history, while UTSI’s amount was the second largest in UTSI history.

Research Expenditures

The current estimate of the FY18 Total Research Expenditures (TREs) shows a significant increase of 30% in the total dollar value spent on R&D. This increase was recorded across all the colleges and units with the exception of RCI. The increases within individual colleges can be contributed to the changes in the internal reporting of the research expenditures. Traditionally, UT has underreported institutional contributions to research by not budgeting departmental funds designated for research separately and by not reporting them to the NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey to account for these contributions. The estimated 30% increase in TREs in FY18 is most likely due to the improved reporting of institutional contributions to research.

The inspection of the estimated Federal Research Expenditures (FREs) shows an overall increase of 4% in FY18 comparing to FY17. The official FREs will not be collected and reported until January 2019.

Notable Achievements

We are pleased to report that six UT faculty members received NSFFaculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards in FY18. This is the second largest number of CAREER recipients in a given fiscal year in UT’s history. Five of the six FY18 CAREER recipients were from TCE and one was from A&S:

  • Daniel Costinett, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences ––$500,000
  • Sharani Roy, Department of Chemistry—$624,469
  • Siris Laursen, Department of Chemical and BiomolecularEngineering—$500,080
  • Joshua Sangoro, Department of Chemical and BiomolecularEngineerin— $625,000
  • Stephen Sarles, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering—$540,093
  • Timothy Truster, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering—$508,000