Penn State research expenditures reach $765 million

November 06, 2009

University Park, Pa. — Penn State's research expenditures in fiscal 2009 reached a record $765 million, a 6.7 percent increase over the previous year and a 74 percent increase since fiscal 2000, said Eva J. Pell, senior vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, in a report to the University's Board of Trustees on Nov. 6.

The funding supports a broad range of research activity in such diverse areas as renewable energy, cybersecurity, materials science and engineering, environmental science, and translational medicine.

"The continued growth in research expenditures at Penn State is indicative of the remarkable accomplishments of our faculty whose research is contributing to the broad-ranging needs of society," said Pell, who next month completes a decade at the helm of Penn State's research enterprise, leaving to become Undersecretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution. "It reflects well on Penn State's enduring commitment to its land-grant mission and its capacity for leadership in an era of manifold challenges."

Funding from federal agencies, at $445 million, accounts for the largest part of the total, and has grown 95 percent since fiscal 2000, Pell told the trustees. Additional support came from industry and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, among other sources.

Federal dollars came from a wide variety of agencies, with the highest levels of funding contributed from the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services (including the National Institutes of Health) and the National Science Foundation.

Pell reported a small reduction in industry sponsored research over the last year, attributable to the economic downturn, but she noted that Penn State continues to rank third nationally in this important category.

According to National Science Foundation rankings for fiscal 2008, the latest available figures, Penn State ranks 11th nationally among all public and private universities in R&D expenditures. In a measure of the breadth of the University's research excellence, those same rankings place Penn State within the top 10 in 11 disparate disciplines, more than any school that finished above it, including first place in materials and psychology, second in sociology, and third in both electrical engineering and all engineering fields combined.

As a result of federal stimulus funding provided for research through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Penn State has in addition garnered more than $68 million dollars and 163 awards since April, Pell noted. Those awards are spread over 13 colleges and 66 departments.

To learn more about research at Penn State, visit

  • Click on the above image for a graph of Penn State's 20-year research expenditure history.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated November 18, 2010