New Research Investment Fund Primes the Pump
for NAU Research
By Dr. Laura Huenneke, Vice President for Research
All three Arizona universities are committed to doubling external funding for research by 2020—an enormous challenge. At NAU one step in that direction is a new "research investment fund." This pool of dollars has been made possible by increased indirect cost recovery on grant-funded projects over the past few years. We are using this new fund, in addition to some one-time financial resources, to enhance infrastructure so that NAU researchers can be ever more competitive and effective.
One major investment last year led to reroofing and reglazing the research greenhouse complex, which has improved conditions for plant research and for a local food production trial. Another project nearing completion added several upgrades to the Animal Care Facility (emergency power, humidity control, and other improvements). These enhancements were aimed at making the facility eligible for national accreditation.
The research investment fund has also been able to provide matching funds and institutional commitments for a major new research facility, the Southwest Experimental Garden Array or SEGA. This project of international importance, led by Regents' Professor Tom Whitham and funded by the National Science Foundation, is studying climate change and its genetic consequences on plant species, plant communities, and ecosystems.
Other contributions from the fund are
- supporting NAU membership in Internet 2 for effective exchange of information with collaborators
- increasing Cline Library's capacity to support research through new online journal subscriptions in climate change and biotechnology
- paying for membership subscriptions in several important statewide groups (e.g., Arizona Bioscience Industry Organization and Arizona Technology Council) so NAU can build stronger partnerships with private enterprise and
- investing in several research groups that may form the focus of new institutes to promote interdisciplinary research on campus.
With further success in recovering indirect costs on grants, the university will continue to expand important resources for campus scholars and researchers.