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Outside funding for research rises at UNM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The amount of money that outside groups, agencies and foundations provided the University of New Mexico for research increased 7.1% in the 2019 fiscal year, marking a bit of a rebound from the previous fiscal year, when the amount awarded to UNM’s main and branch campuses decreased significantly.

Overall, UNM’s main and branch campuses had $120 million in funding flow into various research projects during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended June 30, according to a presentation given by UNM’s Vice President for Research Gabriel López to the Board of Regents’ Academic Affairs Subcommittee.

Research funding for UNM decreased 21.7% in fiscal year 2018. The awards dropped from $143 million in 2017 to $112 million in 2018.

“I cannot make a direct correlation (to why funding dropped so much in 2018), but the decline in research awards you mention did occur in a time period when we lost many faculty members due to retirement or because they were recruited to other institutions,” Lopez said in an email. “Top researchers are the primary targets for such recruitment. By FY2018, UNM faculty had endured several years without significant compensation increases, which I believe contributed to a decrease in the size of the research active faculty.”

UNM’s College of Arts and Sciences, branch campuses, the Office of the Vice President for Research Centers and the School of Engineering were UNM’s top earners for research money. All four of those groups brought in more than $20 million in 2019.

The biggest source of the research revenue was the National Science Foundation, which poured $26.2 million into UNM. The U.S. Department of Education accounted for $9.3 million in research, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department sent $8.6 million to UNM, The Department of Energy provided $4.9 million, and the National Institutes of Health contributed more than $4.7 million, according to UNM documents.

The Air Force Research Laboratory, New Mexico Higher Education Department, Sandia National Laboratories and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research each provided UNM with more than $3 million in the 2019 fiscal year, according to the documents.

López told regents that midway through the 2020 fiscal year, UNM’s research awards are “steady” compared with last year fiscal year.

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