May 25, 2019  

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University of Southern Mississippi Sees Significant Increase in Research Funding

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Researchers in the Department of Marine Science at The University of Southern Mississippi are constantly monitoring the fragile ecosystem of the northern Gulf waters. (University Communications photo)

External funding for research and sponsored programs at The University of Southern Mississippi totaled $72,976,047 for fiscal year 2015 – a 24.1 percent increase from the previous year.

Primary funding for FY 2015, which covers the time period of July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015, came from federal agencies (64 percent). Business and industry awarded the next largest percentage (25 percent). For FY 2014, Southern Miss received $58,790,269 in research and other sponsored program funding.

The College of Science and Technology was awarded the largest percentage of funding (59 percent) with $42,827,102. The College of Education and Psychology received 10.4 percent of the total funding with $7,552,185, followed by the College of Health at 8.9 percent, or $6,489,809.

Dr. Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research at Southern Miss, credits the hard work and focus of University faculty for the impressive boost in research dollars.

“These figures show the commitment of the USM faculty to conduct cutting-edge research, while applying and successfully competing for external research dollars,” said Cannon. “We are educating and training the next generation of researchers at USM, and external funding plays a vital role in the overall success of this mission.”

A breakdown of federal agencies that awarded significant funding to Southern Miss in FY 2015 include the following:

  • U.S. Department of Education – $9,831,434, or 13.5 percent
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – $9,120,454, or 12.5 percent
  • U.S. Department of Commerce -- $6,978,009, or 9.6 percent
  • National Science Foundation -- $6,761,317, or 9.3 percent
  • U.S. Department of Defense -- $6,475,163, or 8.9 percent

The University saw a 38 percent rise in funding from business and industry between FY 2014 and FY 2015. Of the total grants and awards received in FY 2015, almost $18.5 million was funded by business and industry. A significant portion of those awards were presented as part of the BP oil spill settlement to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

Cannon notes that USM’s reputation as a leader in coastal/marine sciences research enabled the University to compete for and receive $16,636,829 in research funds from BP Oil.

“Our collective assets in the Department of Marine Science and Coastal Sciences constitute one important way in which USM stands out from other universities similar in scope and size,” said Cannon. “The number of faculty and research personnel, the facilities, and other resources allow us to be highly competitive for external funding in these areas.”

USM also received a $3,149,300 increase in awards from the National Science Foundation (22 percent of the total difference in FY 2014 and FY 2015 funding). The NSF funding includes a $2.8 million interdisciplinary project to train next-generation scientists with experimental, theoretical, and computational competencies for complex interfaces.

Another major award in FY 2015 was delivered to an interdisciplinary Southern Miss team of researchers by the U.S. Department of Defense. The $3.4 million research grant will be used to develop and evaluate helmets with pneumatic cushioning as a means to improve protection to warfighters.

“This increase in funding is truly remarkable and indicates the strength of our faculty in developing new and unique solutions to challenging scientific and technological problems,” said Dr. David T. Hayhurst, dean of the College of Science and Technology. “It supports our students as it provides resources for them to conduct their graduate research with true innovators in the fields of science and technology. The research that is being undertaken by the college will have a significant impact not only in Mississippi, but for the entire international scientific community.” 

As part of a strategic plan to facilitate future growth in research funding and enhance departmental efficiency, Cannon’s office has undergone a recent reorganization to include the following positions and personnel:

  • Marcia Landen – Associate Vice President for Research
  • Chase Kasper – Assistant Vice President for Research-Technology Transfer & Corporate Relations
  • Martha Sparrow – Director of Science Safety
  • Jennifer Downey – Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research

Six months into the new fiscal year, Cannon and his team are actively participating in the pursuit of partnerships and grants that will take research funding to an even higher level. One area of particular emphasis is health research.

“The potential for increasing health research funding exists through the appearance of new funding opportunities including the Affordable Care Act, new independent nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations such as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a renewed commitment by the National Institutes of Health to fund new and early state investigators, and an ever-growing corporate interest in combating health problems suffered around the world,” said Cannon.

To learn more about research and research funding at Southern Miss, call 601.266.5116 or visit: