Clemson tops $100 million research grant goal

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Clemson tops $100 million research grant goal
By Anna Simon
CLEMSON BUREAU
The Greenville News

CLEMSON -- Clemson University received $103.4 million in research grants for
fiscal 2002, exceeding its $100 million goal earlier than expected.

Reaching the goal set two years ago as part of a 10-year plan to become a top
20 public university is a milestone, said Chris Przirembel, vice president for
research at Clemson.

But he said it is far below the level of outside research support at top 20
schools, where $200 million-plus figures are common. For example, the
University of Georgia received $150 million in fiscal 2001.

Breaking the $100 million mark probably boosts Clemson into the top 50 public
universities in terms of research dollars, one of many criteria that U.S. News
& World Report uses to compile its annual top 20 list, Przirembel said.

That alone should help create a synergy that will bring future grants as
Clemson's national reputation for research grows, he said.

"This is a good indication of the faculty commitment to pursuing top 20
status," Przirembel said.

It's also a measure of the quality of education that students receive because
research and teaching, as well as Clemson's public service mission, are
interlocked, Przirembel said.

"There's as much teaching that goes on in the lab carrying our research as
there is in the classroom," he said.

Sharon Crosby, a Clemson senior majoring in health sciences, said the focus on
research is a plus rather than a deterrent to learning because it opens new
doors and puts new information into students' hands.

"The increased dollars allotted to research enhances out ability to take that
research and implement it into health models we use," Crosby said.

Clemson Provost Dori Helms said, "A university is a place where both research
and scholarship are part of graduate and undergraduate classroom activity."

A university's mix of teaching and research activities adds to the excitement
that faculty members bring to the classroom, Helms said. Clemson is careful
that the quality of teaching doesn't suffer at the expense of research, Helms
said.

Sponsored research has almost doubled since 1999, when Clemson President Jim
Barker took office and announced his list of goals to attain top 20 status that
have become a roadmap to guide university decisions.

Clemson received $55.2 million in research grants in fiscal 1999, $$69.1
million in fiscal 2000 and $92.9 million last year.

The figures include only competitively awarded grants. No federal or state
appropriations are included.

About 80 percent of Clemson's $103.4 million in grants for the past year, which
ended June 30, came from federal sources. About 16 percent came from industry
and other private sources, and about 4 percent came from state and local
governmental sources.

The largest chunk came from the Department of Defense, which awarded $22.1
million to Clemson in fiscal 2002, according to Clemson reports.

Much of this money funds Clemson research in advanced materials, which are
newly developed materials that are stronger, lighter or somehow improved from
materials currently used to make everything from clothing to cars.

Advanced materials is a field recently earmarked by economic development
leaders as a potential growth area.

The National Science Foundation awarded $18.7 million to Clemson, and the
Department of Health and Human Services awarded $12.6 million to round out the
top three sources of research dollars, according to Clemson reports.

Strong research programs also help Clemson attract outstanding undergraduate
and graduate students, which further enhances the quality and scope of the
university's research efforts and its education mission, school officials said.

"Research can be better measured, not in dollars, but in the impact it has on
people's lives," Przirembel said. "Clemson researchers do work that will affect
lives and livelihoods of all Americans."

More than 900 research projects at Clemson include:

* A regional research alliance between Clemson University, Western Carolina
University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte that paves the way
for next-generation optics that can cut Internet cost, double DVD storage
capacity and lighten military aircraft.

Economic development leaders hope that a Carolinas Micro-Optics Triangle,
targeting photonics, the science upon which today's speed-of-light information
technology is based, will help the region attract major industries that
manufacture opto-electronic and photonic components.

* A project that is basically a field sobriety test for examining the impact of
virtual environments on humans is being led by Eric Muth, a Clemson psychology
professor investigating the effects of stress, particularly motion stress, on
humans.

Effects typically include eyestrain, dizziness and nausea, but they also may
include more serious problems such as decreased reasoning ability. The
diagnostic tool that Muth's research team is developing will have military and
home-grown applications.

* A project that could lead to safe aircraft is being done at Clemson's Center
for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films. Early testing indicates that
composite airplane wings can be made significantly stronger by including small
amounts of nanotubes in the carbon fibers.

The finding is one of the first practical fiber and film applications for
nanotubes, which are amazingly strong structures measuring less than
one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair.

* Clemson researchers in southern Greenville County are conducting what may be
the nation's most comprehensive community-wide effort to prevent child abuse
and neglect.

"Strong Communities for Children in the Golden Strip" focuses on preventing
abuse and neglect before it happens by creating an infrastructure of mutual
assistance.

The model program, funded by a $4 million grant from the Duke Endowment, will
build, strengthen and renew ways neighbors can help each other and watch out
for their own and their neighbors' children.

* Other Clemson projects include development of food packaging that not only
detects bacteria but alerts consumers to its presence; pain-free breast cancer
screening that one day could differentiate between benign and malignant
growths; research that helped unravel the mysteries of the rice gene; and
mobile wireless networks to help soldiers communicating in the field.

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