Scientific research grants rise

An overhaul of science and technology provides new funding for research.

Research grants to Temple, mostly for the sciences, have increased significantly in recent years. Administrators said the grants are the result of a drive to increase the number of faculty research projects at the university.

Temple recently began emphasizing research as one of its goals with external funding for advanced research having more than doubled since 2007.  The College of Science and Technology, which houses the six core science departments, currently has around $50 million spread among 143 grants from state and federal governments, industry partnerships and private philanthropy.

Agencies that fund science research at Temple include the National Institute of Health, NASA, the Department of Energy and several branches of the military. The majority of funding comes from the National Science Foundation.

“Far and away, NSF underpins university research,” said Michael Klein, dean of CST. “We like to say to young scientists that your union card is getting a NSF grant. That means your peer group has decided what you’re doing is interesting and should be funded.”

In Fiscal Year 2014, CST received $16.2 million in research funding from philanthropy with 77 percent of that coming from federal sources. During the last three years, federal funding increased by 6.5 percent, contributing to the nearly 13 percent rise in total science research funding.

2013 funding was nearly $1 million more than past years, and Klein said funding could increase significantly in the future.

“If the people we are recruiting come out to be really good, I think we can imagine reaching $25 [million] or $30 million in a few years,” Klein said.

Those recruits are part of CST’s recent overhaul of faculty. Of the roughly 120 faculty members, 65 have been hired in the last seven years. Klein and his predecessor Dai, both sought to hire young, active researchers.

“We focused on hiring on three levels,” Klein said. “We’re hiring young people, we’re hiring mid-career and we’re hiring two senior people that can be mentors of [faculty in] these stages.”

The change in how science research is viewed is bringing on what Klein calls “the new Temple.”

“[Older faculty] have been replaced with a mix of young bright faculty,” Klein said. “There’s nowhere in the U.S. where this has happened, where a college has just had half the people thrown out and replaced.”

This drawing of a more research-based and innovative faculty – driven by the opening of the new science education and research building – is the planned framework for boosting Temple’s scientific reputation.

Dai compared Temple’s quality of staff to California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley in regard to quality of faculty in the science departments.

For Fiscal Year 2013, Caltech received about $309 million in research funding, with about 65 percent of that coming from federal sources, according to the website for its Office of Research Administration.  Caltech’s faculty includes 33 Nobel Prize laureates and 58 National Medal of Science Recipients.

Twelve of the grants CST received this year are for more than $1 million, meaning 10 percent of that faculty are working with seven-digit research funding. Another 12 grants are worth between $600,000 and $1 million and more than 50 are worth around $500,000.

Additionally, many faculty members are working with multiple grants.

University-wide, Temple had more than $170 million in annual expenditures through its research enterprise in Fiscal Year 2014.

Jared Whalen can be reached at

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