ALUMNUS Spring 2022 - Mississippi State University

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MSU RESEARCH CONTINUES TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS $280 million in R&D expenditures puts MSU at No. 88 nationally By James Carskadon


ississippi State continues to set new records in research and development expenditures, reporting $280.4 million in expenditures in the university’s latest report to the National Science Foundation. With seven consecutive years of research growth, MSU ranks No. 88 nationally in the NSF data reported for fiscal year 2020, up four spots from the previous year. The increase in research funding also creates an increase in opportunities for the university and the state, according to Julie Jordan, MSU vice president for research and economic development. “We’ve seen throughout the history of MSU that our research activity is an economic driver in the region,” Jordan said. “Whether it is supporting our state’s top industries or helping to meet the research needs of major manufacturers located in Mississippi, our capabilities create economic opportunities that might not be there otherwise. “Our research activity also directly employs approximately 4,000 students, faculty and staff. We have about 1,700 people working just in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and


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Economic Development Park. These are good jobs that attract people to the area and help keep more of our graduates in the state.” In the latest NSF survey, MSU accounts for 55.4% of Mississippi’s total R&D expenditures, $506.6 million. MSU now ranks No. 59 among public universities as it moves toward

“We’ve seen throughout the history of MSU that

our research activity is an economic driver in the

region.” ~ Julie Jordan a long-term goal of being a top 50 public university nationally. MSU’s 6% increase in research expenditures from fiscal 2019 is well above the national average of a 3.3% increase. For fiscal 2020, MSU boasts 32 top 100 rankings in a wide range of fields and subfields, including ranking No. 14 in agriculture, No. 19

in industrial and manufacturing engineering, and No. 19 in social sciences, which leads the SEC for the ninth consecutive year. Mississippi State’s research funding comes from a wide range of sources, including business and industry, trade groups, local governments, state offices and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Federal Aviation Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others. MSU researchers are working with students on worldwide challenges such as food security, solutions to human diseases, social and economic disparity, and cybersecurity. The university is home to centers and institutes that are leaders in areas such as aerospace engineering, automotive engineering, unmanned aircraft systems, agriculture, data analytics and social sciences, among other areas. Jordan said MSU’s wide range of research activity provides opportunities for students in every discipline to get involved. “Getting involved in faculty-led research is a great way for students to broaden their horizons and work in an environment that is closer to what they will encounter when they enter their careers,” Jordan said. “Those students are learning soft skills, like how to work as part of a team, while also getting exposed to concepts that are at the forefront of their fields. It’s part of what makes our graduates so desirable for employers.” As MSU works toward its goal of becoming a top-50 public research university, it is continuing to invest in resources that will support campus researchers. For example, MSU is investing $2 million in a high-performance computing system that will be accessible to any university researcher. “Our faculty have so many great ideas for transformational projects,” Jordan said. “Whether we are providing grant writing support or making infrastructure investments, we want to do everything we can to put them in a position to succeed.” n