USC flexes its strength in environmental research
USC’s strength in environmental sciences research has been growing for the past several years, and in the latest report by the National Science Foundation the University ranks in the top 20 nationwide.
Using the latest available data, the NSF annually compiles research and development expenditures for 435 colleges and universities in a variety of research categories. The funding tallies, which lag by two fiscal years, include grants and awards from public and private funding sources.
“The latest figures are from FY2008 and show that USC had $36.6 million in environmental science research expenditures, which places us at No. 19 in the country,” said Bob Thunell, director of the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We were No. 21 in 2007 and No. 23 in 2006, so we’ve been on an upward trend for a while now.”
USC’s ranking in the NSF report puts it ahead of many well-known institutions, including Harvard (No. 32, $24.9 million); UNC Chapel Hill (No. 34, $23.3 million); and Georgia Tech (No. 45, $16.1 million).
USC faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Arnold School of Public Health, and the College of Engineering and Computing have active environmental sciences research projects. Environmental sciences research includes areas such as climate change, environmental remediation, and toxicology studies and covers a range of academic disciplines.
“The research in this area is distributed across campus—it’s not the domain of any single department—and I think that’s why our strength in this area doesn’t always receive the recognition that it should,” Thunell said.
USC’s success in garnering environmental sciences related research funding is epitomized by a $4.9 million grant earlier this year from the Department of Energy to the University’s Earth Sciences and Resources Institute. The project, which is studying the potential for carbon dioxide sequestration in the South Georgia Rift Basin, has been recently supplemented by an additional $5 million in DOE funding.
“Those grants will be tallied for FY 2010 and 2011 and bode well for our NSF rankings in the coming years,” Thunell said, adding that USC faculty have begun a series of roundtable discussions to promote more collaborative efforts in environmental sciences research across campus.