Penn State research uses federal stimulus funds for economic growth

September 09, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- To date, Penn State researchers have won $51 million in federal stimulus funds to support initiatives that have the potential to create and retain jobs and encourage economic development. The University received the funds through a series of competitive grants from federal agencies as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted by Congress in February.

As of Sept. 1, at least eight academic colleges and administrative units were participating in 98 projects funded entirely or in part by ARRA grants, according to Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Eva J. Pell.

"At a time when our faculty are finding research funds from both public- and private-sector sources increasingly difficult to secure because of the recession, ARRA grants are most welcome and are being put to good use," said Pell.

In the short term, the grants are helping to save or create jobs. The number remains to be determined as the various research projects gain momentum, and will be reported later this year.

However, the long-term importance of ARRA funds outweighs short-term job creation, Pell noted.

"These funds have allowed Penn State to retain numerous young faculty and graduate students who will help to form the core of the nation's next generation of scientific leadership," she said. "These young scholars, working alongside their senior colleagues, are spurring the scientific and technical innovation that is essential for sustained economic growth, and for successful resolution of some of our society's most pressing health and social problems."

The largest single grant thus far, $21 million, came from the Department of Energy to establish an Energy Frontier Research Center. The new Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation, directed by Professor of Biology Daniel J. Cosgrove, applies cutting edge approaches and methodology developed by plant and molecular biologists, chemists, physicists, material scientists, computational modelers and engineers to increase our knowledge of the physical structure of the biopolymers in plant cell walls and improve methods for converting plant biomass into fuel.

In addition to the Department of Energy grant, the National Science Foundation has awarded grants to Penn State totaling $20.3 million, and National Institutes of Health approximately $10 million. Research projects in health and medicine currently supported by ARRA funds focus on drug abuse prevention; problems associated with aging; and treating and preventing such illnesses as malaria, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, and leukemia. Hurricane prediction, air pollution, stream ecologies, and the life cycle of stars are among other scientific topics receiving ARRA support.

Visit for more information about some of these initiatives.

Overall, Penn State ranks among the nation's top research universities, with annual expenditures exceeding $717 million. Its research enterprise helps keep Pennsylvania economically competitive and supports thousands of high-paying jobs across the Commonwealth.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 06, 2010