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UMBC again in top 150 universities in federal research funds

March 5, 2020 2:54 PM

This story was written by Megan Hanks and first appeared on news.umbc.edu

The annual Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey from the National Science Foundation again includes UMBC as a top recipient of federal research support. 

The most recent survey aggregates federal research and development expenditures for fiscal year 2018. The survey data combines total funding from all federal agencies and also provides information on research funding from non-federal and non-governmental sources. 

Overall, UMBC is ranked #148 in federal research funding for the 2018 fiscal year, and #173 in total research funding from all sources. The federal investment figures include funding from sources such as the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, and NASA, among others. 

“The annual HERD Rankings represent a widely reviewed national comparison of institutional scholarly and research activities,” says Karl V. Steiner, vice president for research at UMBC. “The most recently released 2018 data represents the fourth consecutive year of growth in research expenditures for UMBC.”

A leader in studying Earth’s atmosphere 

UMBC is now ranked #13 nationally in NASA funding and #27 in federal funding for geosciences, atmospheric sciences, and ocean research more broadly. Among the projects included in that funding was UMBC’s Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) cubesat. 


Vanderlei Martins, Roberto Borda, and Dominik Cieslak with HARP at UMBC. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

This small satellite, the size of a loaf of bread, was developed by a team of UMBC scientists, led by Vanderlei Martins, director of UMBC’s Earth and Space Institute. It was recently launched into space aboard a NASA rocket heading for the International Space Station. The satellite contains sensors that will collect information about Earth’s atmosphere, informing our understanding of pollution and climate.

Computing hardware to address infrastructure challenges

In computer and information sciences, UMBC ranked #69 in federal research support. Among awards in this area was NSF support for UMBC to lead a new $3 million research partnership to solve major infrastructure challenges with next-generation computing hardware. 


Yelena Yesha, right, alongside faculty and students who conduct research through CARTA. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Yelena Yesha, computer science and electrical engineering, serves as principal investigator for the five-year grant from the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers. UMBC launched the Center for Accelerated Real Time Analytics (CARTA) to complete computing hardware research supported by this grant. A portion of the NSF funds are also furthering collaborative research with partner institutions North Carolina State University; Rutgers University, Newark; Rutgers University, New Brunswick; and Tel Aviv University. UC San Diego and the University of Utah are also collaborating, and industry partners like Seagate and Morgan Stanley are engaged in this work as well.

Yesha explains, “CARTA will usher in the era of accelerated real-time analytics by effectively utilizing innovative technologies such as cognitive computing, machine learning, and quantum computing to address our nation’s global competitive challenges in health security, disaster mitigation, and the emerging artificial intelligence revolution.”

Social science research to address health disparities

In the social sciences, UMBC ranks #27 in federal research dollars among universities nationwide. UMBC psychology faculty received a particularly high number of federal grants in 2018, including Danielle Beatty Moody (NIH funding), Shawn Bediako (NSF funding), Chris Murphy (DHHS-NIH funding), and Shari Waldenstein  ( DHHS-NIH funding, as well as support from the VA Medical Center in Baltimore). Additionally, Christine Yee, economics, received a research grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 


Danielle Beatty Moody. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Beatty Moody is director of UMBC’s Social Determinants of Health Lab. In 2018 she was the PI on three NIH grants, funded through the National Institute of Aging. They all focused on the HANDLES study, which stands for Health Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span. Beatty Moody’s team examined health disparities among middle-aged and older residents of Baltimore. This includes the relationship between factors like structural discrimination and early life experiences with cognitive decline and cardiometabolic measures.

“We are proud of the broad impact of our work, from the social sciences, to computing, to our close relationship with NASA Goddard,” says Steiner. “I am pleased with the continued efforts and growing success of our entire research community.”

Banner image: Research team of Vanderlei Martins, professor of physics, with a model of the HARP satellite. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC

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