Iowa State University established a new record for external sponsored research funding during the 2023 fiscal year that closed on June 30, 2023. The $301.3 million received represents the first time the institution has exceeded $300 million in external research funding, and is an increase of $17.1 million or 6%, compared to the previous record of $284.2 million set in the 2022 fiscal year.

The new record was made possible by Iowa State achieving new benchmarks in both federal and non-federal research funding. The university received $206.9 million in federal research funding in FY23, a 4.4% increase or $8.7 million compared to FY22’s record of $198.2 million. Meanwhile, non-federal research funding came in at $94.4 million, topping the previous record of $86 million – also set in FY22 – by $8.4 million, or 9.8%.

Overall, Iowa State attracted $530.5 million in total external funding during the just-completed fiscal year, a drop from FY22’s university record of $601.7 million.

The vision for Iowa State Research is to foster human creativity, fuel innovation and forge new frontiers that enable our communities, partners, and stakeholders to flourish. New records in external research funding in back-to-back years validate that vision.

“Iowa State Research is about identifying challenges and issues that impact our communities and society as a whole,” said Vice President for Research, Peter Dorhout. “Iowa State Research is about laying the groundwork with foundational or basic research that provides the building blocks that ultimately yield proactive and innovative solutions for those issues. Most important, Iowa State Research is about collaboration – with partners across our campus, partners on other campuses, and partners in both the private and public sectors – to bring diverse points of view together that help us create opportunities and forge new frontiers through our discoveries.”

FY23’s external research funding supported ongoing research efforts and launched 780 new projects. While there are countless new projects that could be showcased, here are three examples that reflect the vision and tenets of Iowa State Research and align with areas of strategic excellence within the university as whole.

Project 1: In 2022, a multi-institutional team led by Laura Jarboe, Cargill Professor in Chemical Engineering at Iowa State, submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) funding. The thrust of the team’s proposal was to enhance research capacity and infrastructure for Iowa’s bioscience and advanced manufacturing industries while also supporting the development of a diverse and skilled workforce for those sectors.

In May 2023, NSF announced the Iowa proposal was one of six new EPSCoR projects that would receive an award of $20 million over five years. The Iowa initiative – known as Chemurgy 2.0 – brings Iowa State together with in-state partner institutions the University of Iowa, the University of Northern IowaCentral College and Dordt University in a collaborative effort the team believes will ultimately position the state as a national leader in advanced biomanufacturing.

Project 2: Women own or co-own nearly half of the 30.6 million acres of farmland in Iowa, representing nearly $112 billion in agricultural assets, yet they remain all but absent from research and outreach on conservation in agriculture. These women landowners represent a significant “missed opportunity” at a time when there is an urgency to increase conservation practices in agriculture. Practices such as no-till, cover crops, and prairie strips are crucially needed to both adapt to and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

English professor, Linda Shenk and her co-principal investigators (PIs), William Gutowski professor of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, and Kristie Franz, professor and Smith Family Foundation Chair in Geology, received an award of just under $30,000 from the Iowa Department of Commerce and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. The Iowa State team will leverage their collective experience in climate change, hydrology, and collaborative storytelling to co-create knowledge to directly support women owners in making climate-wise decisions regarding their land.

Project 3: June 2023, Iowa State was one of five institutions – University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, North Carolina A&T, and North Carolina State University are the others – selected by the National Pork Board to work on an initiative called the Real Pork Trust Consortium, which is focused on increasing consumers’ confidence in pork produced in the U.S. The initial award is $5.1 million with an estimated total award of $8.5 million over the project’s five-year lifespan. Iowa State’s Nicholas Gabler, John F. Patience Endowed Professorship in Swine Nutrition, is the initiative’s overall PI.

The diverse multidisciplinary team will use the We Care Ethical Principles of pork production as a framework for improving communication and education through each step of the pork supply chain with the ultimate goal of increasing the resilience and adaptability of the pork industry in an ever-changing world while also improving societal attitudes toward U.S. pork production.

“One of the common threads that binds Iowa State Research faculty and staff is a commitment to making our world better,” Dorhout said. “Whether an award is in the millions, or an amount that is far more modest, it is a shared purpose that drives the Iowa State Research community and makes our enterprise a sought-after partner year after year.”

Here is a closer look at both federal and non-federal research funding for FY23.

Federal Research Funding Overview

Iowa State received a university-record $206.9 million in federal research funding during the 2023 fiscal year, $8.7 million or 4.4% more compared to the previous record of $198.2 million set in FY22.

Three key contributors to the federal funding record Iowa State established in FY23 were the National Science Foundation (NSF), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s important to note that Ames National Laboratory – a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratory – in tandem with Iowa State University received $82.8 million in DOE funding in FY23, an increase of $14.9 million from FY22’s total of $67.9 million.

Click here for more details on federal research funding Iowa State received during the 2023 fiscal year.

Non-federal Research Funding Overview

Iowa state University established new benchmarks for non-federal research funding in back-to-back years. The $94.4 million in non-federal research support in FY23, is $8.4 million or 9.8% more than the previous record of $86 million set during the 2022 fiscal year.

Key sponsor segments contributing the most to the growth in non-federal funding from FY23 to FY22 were:

  • Commodity: up $7.5 million, or nearly 175%, from $4.3 million in FY22 to $11.8 million in FY23;
  • Higher Education (U.S. and foreign): up $4.2 million, or 25.7%, from $16.5 million in FY22 to $20.7 million in FY23; and
  • State of Iowa government: up $489,794, or 2.2%, from $22.6 million in FY22 to $23.1 million in FY23.

Click here for more details on federal research funding Iowa State received during the 2023 fiscal year.