FILE - University of Iowa

Sign for Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories at the University of Iowa

(The Center Square) – The University of Iowa and Iowa State University received more than a combined $1 billion in external funding in fiscal year 2021, setting some records.

Despite the influx of cash, Iowa’s Board of Regents may vote at its July 28 meeting to approve an increase in tuition at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa.

The University of Iowa announced it received a record $702.4 million in external funding for research and scholarship in fiscal year 2021. The funding was a 31% increase compared to fiscal year 2020 ($535.5 million). Total external funding ($818 million in fiscal year 2021) increased 23% over fiscal year 2020 ($666.2 million). Funding from federal agencies increased 24% from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021.

The University of Iowa’s IHR — Hydroscience & Engineering received a $2.9 million grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority that will be distributed over five years for the Iowa Wastewater and Waste-to-Energy Research Program Innovation Center and Tech.

“[The innovation center provides] real-world pilot scale data that can be applied by technology developers, the industry and Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources to advance the state’s ability to treat waste, generate renewable energy, protect the environment and develop the state’s economy,” the Iowa Economic Development Authority said in a news release announcing the grant.

The University of Iowa’s federal research funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) increased 288%, from $9.2 million in FY2020 to $35.7 million in FY2021 while the National Science Foundation’s funding increased 65%, from $9.5 million to $15.8 million; and the National Institutes of Health’s funding increased 7%, from $187.3 million to $200.3 million.

State Hygienic Laboratory Associate Lab Director Wade Aldous received grants of $30.2 million from the Centers for Disease Control through the Iowa Department of Public Health “and other sources.” The grants will support, in part, studying how the lab’s meeting demands for COVID-19 testing could support the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security (CARES) Act awarded $220,000 to develop virtual programs to increase the engagement of seniors in Iowa. The U.S. Department of Education provided nearly $1 million in grants to support intensive training for students going into special education and school psychology, which have experienced staffing shortages, the release said.

Other federal grants were awarded for projects that included studying the history of segregation in St. Louis, evaluation of a treatment for Jansen metaphyseal chondrodysplasia (an “extremely rare” progressive disorder in children), the use of artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of medical diagnoses, the relationship between bioaerosols (such as pollen) and the formation of clouds and storms, and the ethical and policy implications of genomic testing in the workplace. NASA is supporting a project studying the interactions between the magnetic fields of the sun and the Earth.

Iowa State University received $21.4 million in state funding for research and a total of $76.3 million in non-federal funding, it announced in a news release. It received $559.1 million in total external funding for fiscal year 2021, beating its previous record of $509.2 million received in a fiscal year (2018). Federal COVID-19 Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding provided $90.2 million for fiscal year 2021.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Iowa Energy Center awarded more than $1.6 million in grants in September 2020 to several of the university’s projects, including for “Low-cost Biobased Composite Material for Ultra durable and Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades” ($450,436) and “Predicting Battery Lifetime with Early-Life Data for Grid Applications” ($280,070).

Vice President for Research Peter Dorhout, who joined Iowa State University in January 2021, described the work of the university research community through the pandemic in an Iowa State University news release.

“[Faculty, staff and students] stayed committed to relevance and purpose, whether it’s unearthing answers to larger questions through fundamental research, or applied research that translates to new innovations that can be commercialized to grow our economy and benefit our society,” Dorhout said. “To me, this is what sets Iowa State apart and brings funding agencies, companies, and private sponsors back year after year.”