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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Growth in university research spending boosts area economy

Spending on research and other sponsored projects at New Mexico State University grew by 9 percent during the fiscal year that ended June 30, to a record high of $165.9 million.

Hills, the university's interim vice provost for research, said the growth represents increased diversity in the research activities of the university's faculty and staff, in areas that range from public health to national security.

The increase has a direct impact on the state's economy, he noted. Typically about 85 percent of the funding for research and public service projects comes from sources outside of New Mexico -- federal agencies, corporations and foundations -- and much of it is spent in the state on salaries and the purchase of goods and services.

The university's Physical Science Laboratory accounted for more than $44 million of the expenditures on research grants and contracts during the past year, up from $39.6 million the previous year.

"Under the leadership of Director Don Birx, the PSL had made a commitment to research and development in the area of information operations, which is a critical area to our national defense, and they have seen a lot of growth in that area," Hills said. "In addition to the research, they are also involved in outreach activities such as law enforcement training related to homeland security."

The PSL also has a wide range of contracts in areas such as:

- The use of high-altitude, long-duration balloons for research and surveillance.

- Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies and applications for exploration of sites that put human life at risk.

- Space communications.

- Technologies to increase transportation efficiency across national borders.

Expenditures on sponsored programs of the university's Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service totaled $23.2 million in 2002-03.

The College of Arts and Sciences, NMSU's largest academic college, spent more than $12.5 million on sponsored programs during the fiscal year.

The university has established research centers in each of its academic colleges and supports other research-oriented centers such as the PSL, the Water Resources Research Institute, the Computing Research Laboratory, and the Southwest Technology Development Institute.

Hills expects one of the biggest growth areas in the current year will be public health research and outreach activities, particularly those related to border health issues.