Researchers at the University of Central Florida received an all-time-high $145.75 million in funded research in FY16, a period that featured a national top 20 ranking for UCF patents and a new record for federal funding.
The total is a 9.3 percent increase over the previous year and includes $84 million in federal funding, $47.25 million from industry, and $14.46 million from state and local sources.
The federal tab surpasses the previous record of $75.77 million set in 2010 and is a critical indicator of the quality of the university’s research efforts.
“It is an exciting time to join UCF,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, UCF’s new vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
Klonoff acknowledged the work of the outstanding faculty, students and staff who have contributed to the successful year. She also recognized the leadership of M.J. Soileau, a university distinguished professor in the College of Optics & Photonics, who served as vice president for research & commercialization throughout the fiscal year.
“University research has the potential to change lives,” she said. “Because of the efforts of everyone at UCF who dedicates their lives to research, innovation and education, the university’s impact will continue to grow.”
The fiscal year began with the university joining the world in celebrating NASA’s successful flyby of Pluto in a mission led by Alan Stern, chief scientist of UCF’s Florida Space Institute.
UCF researchers are also helping shape NASA’s first mission to collect asteroid samples and are sending experiments into space on next-generation commercial space vehicles including Blue Origin.
Closer to home, a UCF nanoscientist and a University of Florida researcher are leading a $4.6 million U.S. Department of Agriculture project to fight citrus greening – an epidemic that has put Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry at risk.
Swadeshmukul Santra, associate professor in UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center, invented and patented Zinkicide, a nanoparticle that can be absorbed by citrus fruit and eliminate the disease from within.
The university is also playing a role in a $375 million Department of Defense Manufacturing Innovation Institute to develop smart fiber technology. Some of the research to create the futuristic fibers, which will produce fabric capable of monitoring our health, sensing the environment and harvesting energy, will be done at the UCF-supported International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research in Osceola County.
The College of Engineering & Computer Science received the most funding on campus with $32.07 million, followed by the Institute for Simulation & Training with $18.32 million, and the College of Optics & Photonics with $17.09 million.
The College of Health and Public Affairs received twice as much funding than in FY15, the largest percentage increase for a college. That jump was helped by Bonnie Yegidis, director of the School of Social Work, who is leading a $5.3 million contract funded by the Florida Department of Children and Families and conducted in collaboration with 14 schools of social work in Florida to educate students for work as child-protective investigators and case managers for the state.
The fiscal year produced 44 research millionaires, or researchers who have received $1 million or more in funding during the year.
In commercialization activity, UCF’s patents were ranked in the top 20 by the National Academy of Inventors. The university has consistently performed well on the patent lists, which show the strength of UCF technologies compared to powerhouse universities across the nation.
Two UCF researchers, Issa Batarseh, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who has made significant technical contributions in the field of power electronics, and Guifang Li, a professor of optics and photonics who specializes in optical fiber communications, were named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, becoming UCF’s eighth and ninth members of the select academy.
UCF’s Business Incubation Program celebrated the reopening of its Central Florida Research Park location after a $5 million expansion that included the addition of five much needed chemical wet labs.
The university has also launched the Applied Research Institute which will allow it to secure large collaborative projects and coordinate multidisciplinary responses to major federal funding initiatives. The institute has landed its first contract, more than $2 million, with Schlumberger, the world’s leading provider of technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing for the oil and gas industries.