A liquid is dropped into a beaker in a lab.

UA Research Marks Continued Progress in Annual Report

A blue-gloved hand works on a lab bench inserting materials in a beaker.

The research enterprise of The University of Alabama continues to grow.

UA had the fastest growth rate over the last three years for research and development expenditures among all members of the Southeastern Conference, according to the latest available data.

That highlight, based on data from the 2017-2019 fiscal years reported by the National Science Foundation, is one of several that show an advancing and expanding research enterprise at UA in the annual report of the Office for Research and Economic Development. It’s the second annual update to the office’s five-year strategic plan.

ORED’s goals within the plan are meant to facilitate the growth and impact of the UA research enterprise toward the overarching goal of becoming one of the premier comprehensive research institutions in the Southeast over the next few years, while translating research productivity and innovation into economic and societal development and opening more opportunities for student experiences and success.

Along with research expenditures topping the 14-member SEC, which shows booming activity in campus labs, UA is one of the top five SEC institutions receiving research funding from the NSF, according to the same NSF Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

These highlights are built upon the work of faculty, staff and students who contributed to a 27% increase in sponsored awards. In addition, over the past six years the number of faculty who have been recognized with external honorific awards has increased by 79% to 493 awards to faculty.

“The success of UA’s research enterprise is the successes and recognition of our people who dedicate their time to better society through deeper understanding of our world and the human condition,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, UA vice president for research and economic development. “The educational mission of the University benefits from UA’s research through both training the future graduates and through translating innovations that benefit the state’s economy and improve lives.”

ORED’s strategic plan builds on the University’s designation by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education as a Very High Research Activity doctoral university, the nation’s highest level of research activity for institutions that grant doctoral degrees. The ORED plan has six strategic themes including research environment, research institutes, transformative initiatives, translating intellectual property, economic and business engagement, and assessing progress and impact.

Achievements marked under the strategic plan in the past year include:

  • Launched the research professional career track.
  • Successfully recruited a director for the Office for Innovation & Commercialization.
  • ORED, College of Community Health Sciences, Office for Academic Affairs and Alabama Life Research Institute partnered to recruit a faculty team to lead UA’s Convergent Bioscience and Medicine Initiative.
  • Created and launched three research centers approved by the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama.
  • Three Alabama Research Institutes launched multi-year strategic plans.
  • UA, through Alabama Transportation Institute, established a major focus on electric vehicles, called the Alabama Mobility and Power Initiative.
  • ORED developed the new Tide Express License Agreement Option for UA-based start-up companies.
  • ORED partnered with the UA Career Center to create and execute a graduate retention plan in support of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education “Retain Alabama” initiative.
  • ORED created an asset map to showcase UA’s signature research themes, faculty expertise and available workforce talent through aligned academic programs.

The ORED annual report can be found on its website.


Adam Jones, UA communications, 205-348-4328, adam.jones@ua.edu