UMSL sees largest percentage increase in research funding of Missouri, southern Illinois universities

by | Jul 1, 2019

The St. Louis Business Journal reported that UMSL had the largest year-over-year growth of large research universities from 2017 to 2018.
2019 Graduate Research Fair

UMSL’s research funding increased by 66 percent from 2017 to 2018. This growth outpaced other large research universities across the state and in southern Illinois by nearly 40 points. (File photo by August Jennewein)

As limited resources challenged institutions across the country in fiscal year 2017, the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ research funding grew considerably.

From 2017 to 2018, UMSL experienced a 66 percent increase – the greatest year-over-year jump of large research universities in Missouri and southern Illinois according to the St. Louis Business Journal.

In a listing published Friday, the paper showed UMSL ahead of 10 universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Missouri–Columbia, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Saint Louis University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Chris Spilling

Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research Chris Spilling

The Business Journal spoke with Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research Chris Spilling for a “Faces of the list” Q&A about UMSL’s progress and plans for continued growth.

In the interview, Spilling attributed part of UMSL’s productivity to the new Office of Research Administration grant writing team and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, which is responsible for about one-third of research expenditures.

“We have a number of things in the works,” Spilling told Data Reporter and Researcher Lea Konczal. “We’ve redistributed some funding to allow us to add new programs. We have a plan to work on a program for mid-career faculty that maybe have taken a little decline in their productivity, and we want to bring them back. The first job is to really make individuals more successful, to encourage them to engage in research, to apply to get that research funded – we want to help them be successful in that endeavor. Anything else that we do is aimed at that.”

UMSL’s highest funded project during FY17 focused on the cognitive impairment of HIV infected children. MIMH Director Robert Paul was the principal investigator on the Myanmar-based project, which is expected to conclude in 2021.

“The Missouri Institute for Mental Health, as I said, is a big unit. They’re looking at a number of different, very important issues like HIV, and the way in which HIV results in cognitive decline,” Spilling said. “They’re looking at the opioid crisis – we have a team working very much on the opioid problem in Missouri.

“We have several National Science Foundation-funded faculty members, in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and in the Department of Biology. So they’ve been doing quite well, particularly in carbohydrates – we have a really good team in carbohydrate chemistry; the biological applications of carbohydrates. We have a very strong ecology team. And then we’re pretty strong in the social sciences, too.”

Sara Bell

Sara Bell