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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2015 / 02 

Virginia Tech climbs to 38 in National Science Foundation research rankings

February 5, 2015

Virginia Tech has jumped forward two positions in the ranks of the nation’s top research institutions, reaching No. 38 in National Science Foundation’s (NSF) annual survey of higher education research expenditures.

With more than $496 million in research and development activity for fiscal year 2013, Virginia Tech remains the No. 1 academic research institution in Virginia in the National Science Foundation’s annual census.

“Our ranking as a research institution is just one of the ways to measure Virginia Tech’s impact and momentum, and it is a signal to talented people everywhere that we are a university in action,” Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands said. “Virginia Tech’s steady growth in research expenditures reflects our commitment to impactful scholarship across the continuum, from curiosity-driven research that leads to unexpected opportunities, to problem-inspired research that results in solutions that benefit humanity today. Our strength is in collaboration across the disciplines, especially in emerging societal-scale challenges in sustainability, resilience, health, and security.” 

The statistics are compiled from the NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey, the primary source of information on research and development expenditures at academic institutions. The survey ranked 891 degree-granting institutions that spent at least $150,000 in research and development.

Virginia Tech continues to rank in the top 5 percent of universities in the nation and is the only Virginia institution in the top 50. At No. 23, it remains among the top 25 public research universities.

Research and development expenditures for 2013 are up $42 million from 2012's total of $454 million, which had earned Virginia Tech the No. 40 position in the rankings for fiscal year 2012.

"Our sustained rise in the rankings is a testament to the effort of former Vice President for Research Bob Walters, the realization of our research institute model to address large-scale opportunities across disciplines, and the engagement of the Graduate School and various academic units to help innovation and interdisciplinary research at Virginia Tech," said Dennis Dean, interim vice president for research. "Ultimately, we rise on the shoulders of our faculty for leading sponsored research and for producing students who will be the world's next generation of innovators."

While Virginia Tech’s research enterprise grew, higher education research and development in the nation was flat, according to the NSF.  When adjusted for inflation, higher education R&D increased by less than half a percent in fiscal year 2013.

Since January 2000, Virginia Tech’s research portfolio has risen from $192.7 million to $496 million. Over the years, R&D spending increased annually with continued reinvestment in infrastructure and faculty, positioning the university in primary areas of sponsored research, including agriculture, engineering, the health sciences, and physical and natural sciences.

Nearly 80 percent of Virginia Tech’s research portfolio is funded by competitive awards from the federal government and funding agencies such as the NSF, and the departments of defense, health and human services, transportation, agriculture, and energy. About 10 percent of funding is from commercial sources and industry partnerships.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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