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UNC Rises in Research Ranking

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Students and faculty will have more opportunities to complete research projects and make breakthroughs, thanks to UNC’s new research ranking among public and private universities. UNC rose from 16th to ninth place overall for external and federal funds spent on research and development, and it ranks fourth among public universities.

The National Science Foundation recently released data showing UNC spent about $546 million from external and federal research funding on faculty projects in the 2010 fiscal year.

Duke University, the only other NC school ranked in the top 25, came in at 13th with expenditures totaling about $514 million.

Barbara Entwisle, Vice Chancellor for Research, said UNC increased in the rankings because of new research buildings and a competitive faculty. "We have outstanding faculty," she said. "It’s faculty who write the grants, and without them we are nowhere. The new ranking will enhance the school’s reputation and help bring in more funding for undergraduate research." "This is the money that provides for student interns, research assistantships, training assistantships," Entwisle said. "It provides opportunities that benefit everybody."

"Faculty rely on external funding for research. This money comes from foundations, corporations, and federal and state governments", said Donna Bickford, Associate Director of Undergraduate Research.

Entwisle said in most years, half of the funding is spent on projects in the School of Medicine, and most of the faculty get $100,000 or less for awards. "You have to compete for this money," Entwisle said. "You have to be in the top 10 or 15 percent of everybody competing to get these awards." Entwisle added that the University typically receives more money for funding than is spent in a fiscal year, which then rolls into the next fiscal year if it remains unused.

Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, said the expected increased funding will help UNC combat global issues. "The new research funds will enable us to attack the fundamental problems in the world today, like AIDS," he said. Carney said the possibility for more funding will also help graduate students better research their interests and create beneficial projects.

Kayla Hall, a senior biology major, said she hopes to attend graduate school and appreciates the University’s rise in rank. "It will give students more opportunities to research and gain hands-on experience in the lab," she said. "If we had more funding, there would be more resources available." Hall said graduate students have to apply for funding before starting their projects.

Shelby Lake, a senior biology and English double major, said more funding would provide students with better tools in lab projects. "The number of people wanting to do research is increasing," he said. "But if there is more money, there will be more opportunities for students."

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