New data from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey shows UCF is a top university for research and development in Florida — and across the nation. The HERD Survey is the primary source of information on research and development expenditures at U.S. colleges and universities. Survey points were taken from FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022).

UCF is No. 1 in Florida for computer and information sciences expenditures (and top 6% nationally) and No. 2 for engineering funding (top 20% nationally). The university also ranks in the top five in Florida for research backed by several national departments, including:

  • No. 2 for NASA funding in Florida — and top 9% nationally
  • No. 2 for Department of Defense funding in Florida — and top 15% nationally
  • No. 3 for U.S. National Science Foundation funding in Florida — and top 15% nationally
  • No. 3 for Department of Energy funding in Florida — and in the top 20% nationally
  • No. 5 for Department of Health and Human Services funding in Florida — and top 25% nationally
UCF Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation Winston Schoenfeld

UCF is also in the top 10% of expenditures in the nation for research in physics, computer and information sciences, non-science and engineering, and physical sciences. “I am very pleased at UCF’s continued growth in research expenditures, surpassing $220M for FY22,” says Winston Schoenfeld, UCF’s interim vice president for research and innovation. “This is the direct result of tireless work by our dedicated faculty, staff, and students, as well as our many partners, leading to new levels of innovation in research and discovery. Through their collective excellence, UCF continues to progress as one of the leading public research universities in the nation.”

UCF also had an impact on higher education R&D expenditures this year. At higher education institutions in both survey populations, UCF finished in the top 19%, fifth in Florida. At expenditures at public institutions, UCF finished in the top 20%, fifth in Florida. Overall research and development spending by academic institutions nationwide totaled $97.8 billion in FY 2022, an increase of $8 billion from FY 2021.

Over the year, UCF’s projects were tied to a number of agencies and scientific disciplines:

Computer and Information Sciences

UCF ranks ahead of all universities in Florida

Paul Gazzillo, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Computer Science, is leading research on a three-year, nearly $1 million Defense Advance Research Projects Agency Young Faculty award that will make investigations into corporate relationships easier and quicker by creating automated tools that help investigators track complex corporate relationships.

Department of Defense

UCF ranks ahead of Florida International University (FIU), Florida State University (FSU) and the University of South Florida (USF)

UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Kareem Ahmed, NanoScience Technology Center Assistant Professor Tania Roy, and UCF Materials Science and Engineering Professor Kevin Coffey were selected by the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the department’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, which supports projects that range from advancing hypersonic propulsion to improving semiconductor performance and will fund the work for the next five years.


UCF ranks ahead of FSU, USF, FIU

Utilizing technology such as heart monitors with acoustic technology and biomechanical forces that can influence the early stages of heart disease, mechanical and aerospace engineers at UCF focus their expertise on finding creative solutions to heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

UCF ranks ahead of FSU and USF

Planetary scientists Kerri Donaldson Hanna and Adrienne Dove will lead a $35 million NASA science mission to land a spacecraft on the moon’s Gruithuisen Domes, a previously unexplored region. The robotic mission would launch in 2026 to study the domes’ chemical composition and how dust interacts with the spacecraft and a rover.


UCF ranks No. 2 in Florida, and ahead of Florida Atlantic University (FAU), University of West Florida (UWF), University of North Florida (UNF) nationally

Tania Roy, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and NanoScience Technology Center, and Molla Manjurul Islam ’17MS, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student in UCF’s Department of Physics, have developed a device for artificial intelligence that mimics the retina of the eye. The development could lead to advanced AI that can instantly recognize what it sees, like automatic descriptions of pictures taken by a camera or phone. The technology also has applications in self-driving vehicles and robotics.

Department of Energy

UCF ranks ahead of FIU, Florida A&M University (FAMU) and USF

Denisia Popolan-Vaida, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Chemistry, received a five-year, $800,000 grant from the Department of Energy to investigate elusive chemical compounds that could help mitigate the impact of combustion on climate change. The compounds, known as Criegee intermediates, form by reactions of ozone and hydrocarbons, and only within the last decade have scientists been able to directly measure them because of their low concentrations and short lifetime.

U.S. National Science Foundation

UCF ranks head of USF, FIU and FAMU

Eight UCF professors who work with interdisciplinary teams to solve tech and health problems were named NSF CAREER award recipients. Some of the research includes Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering YeonWoong “Eric” Jung’s materials and nanotech research into pliable laptops and smartphones, as well as Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering and Biionix Faculty Cluster Initiative member Mehdi Razavi’s work into improving corrosion resistance to produce better magnesium-based bone implants.

Physical Sciences

UCF ranks No. 3 in Florida, and ahead of FAU, UWF and UNF

Using data collected from Arecibo’s Planetary Radar, planetary scientist Luisa Fernanda Zambrano-Marin researched the 2019 asteroid OK that was headed toward Earth. The asteroid was between .04 and .08 miles in diameter and was moving fast, rotating for 3 to 5 minutes. The asteroid was part of only 4.2% of the known fast-rotating asteroids.