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Research Ascendant

Grants to USC College faculty rise dramatically in face of tighter competition.

By Pamela J. Johnson
September 1, 2007

Research Ascendant

Research funding at USC College has risen 30 percent in the past three years to nearly $67 million, with the most significant gains in grants from corporations and foundations.

Through the efforts of the College research and advancement offices, private funding from corporations and foundations more than doubled in the past three years to a total of $15 million awarded in fiscal year 2007.

New faculty activity helped, too. Of the $66.9 million total, $7.7 million came as contracts and grants to College faculty hired since 2004.

“USC College is attracting a higher quality of researcher than ever before,” said Michael Quick, executive vice dean for academic affairs. “And they’re arriving with active research profiles.”

Annual federal funding has spiked by 21 percent since 2004 to $47.3 million. However, reflecting the national trend, federal funding now makes up a smaller slice of the pie. In 2004, federal grants represented 77 percent of the College’s annual awards. It now represents 71 percent.

Quick was pleased with the overall increase, especially in light of the heightened competition for federal funding. Just a few years ago, the National Institutes of Health would fund one in four grant proposals. Now, the government agency funds about one in 10 proposals, Quick said.

“Federal funding has really gotten grim,” Quick said. “One would expect to see a drop in overall College funding from federal sources, but it’s still going up, so that’s great.”

Quick praised the faculty.

“When we see how successful our faculty is at getting these grants in such a competitive environment — it’s the highest accolade they can get.”

The College has also added staff members to its development and research offices who work closely with professors seeking grants.

The faculty members awarded the largest individual grants in the fiscal year 2006–07 are:

Thomas Jordan
University Professor, William M. Keck Foundation Chair in Geological Sciences and director of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), headquartered at the College

Mark Thompson
professor of chemistry and materials science

Michael Waterman
University Professor, USC Associates Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of biological sciences, computer science and mathematics

John McArdle
professor of psychology and gerontology

Myron Goodman
professor of biological sciences and chemistry

Kenneth Nealson
Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies and professor of earth sciences and biological sciences

Antonio Damasio
David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience, professor of psychology and director of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute, based at the College

Linda Duguay
research associate professor of biological sciences and director of USC Sea Grant, based at the College

Anthony Michaels
professor of biological sciences and director of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, based at the College

Michel Baudry
professor of biological sciences and biomedical engineering