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State of the University address celebrates record research awards, student success, strategic plan

Despite the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boise State broke records in 2021 for research awards. During the annual State of the University address, President Marlene Tromp announced that in 2021, the university received 425 awards, totaling more than $65 million. This represents a 13 percent increase over 2020’s award dollars and a 58 percent increase over the past five years.

Tromp said Boise State strives to be a “new kind of research university,” in which research impacts students at all levels of their education, is fully integrated into how people teach and learn, and helps students become innovative thinkers and leaders.

“Research helps provide Boise State students a comprehensive experience, with opportunities to grow and excel outside of the classroom,” she said. “Students participating in hands-on research projects get workforce-relevant professional experiences, as well as the opportunity to work alongside and learn from award-winning faculty. They become contributors to their fields of study. They learn, in a direct way, how to innovate new ideas and lead. Engagement with students in the research process also enhances a faculty member’s teaching and inspires cutting-edge curricular innovation.”

Boise State President Marlene Tromp, State of the University address, group photo on The Blue, John Kelly photo.

Boise State served more than 33,000 students during the past year and awarded 6,162 degrees and certificates to nearly 5,000 graduates. Tromp spoke of numerous ways that Boise State is thriving, innovating, setting records, reaching students where they are, and building a bright future for Idaho, and celebrated student success across the university.

“In this very difficult period, we developed new ways to connect with our students,” Tromp said. “We faced the challenges of this year, and we actually built new ways of teaching, new ways of giving service, new ways of supporting our community. In the face of those challenges, we didn’t bend or crumble. We did more, and we learned things that we’ll take with us into future years that have made us a better university.”

Blueprint for Success, the university’s strategic plan, will help Boise State continue to reach new heights, Tromp said. The plan is focused on five major areas — improve educational access and student success, innovate for institutional impact, advance research and creative activity, foster a thriving community, and trailblaze programs and partnerships.

A recording of the address is available on the university’s YouTube channel.

During the past year, the university:

  • Educated and supported teachers, health care workers and businesses as they weathered COVID
  • Made and distributed face shields to local health-care providers and organizations around the world
  • Devoted thousands of hours to helping K-12 teachers shift to online teaching
  • Built up a public health office from scratch to provide testing for the campus community, as well as health care workers, police officers, first responders, teachers, state government officials, and others
  • Administered thousands of vaccines
  • Awarded a record 31 doctoral degrees in biomolecular sciences; curriculum and instruction; electrical and computer engineering; educational technology; ecology, evolution and behavior; materials science and engineering; and nursing
  • Surpassed 100,000 living graduates
  • Drew national recognition for online programs and innovative COVID responses
  • Celebrated a Truman Scholar
  • Has doubled the number of graduate degrees and certificate programs in the past decade, sending students out with MBAs and graduate education in engineering, science, art, education, health science, computer science and more to advance industry and the state
  • Created custom programs to meet industry needs
  • Provided programs and support for entrepreneurs in a number of fields, helping them design, prototype and refine their products and take them to market
  • Created the Institute for Advancing American Values to encourage conversation between multiple viewpoints to spur engagement, understanding and connection
  • Formed the Cybersecurity Cyberdome – a physical and virtual “live-fire” place to address real cyber challenges
  • Rolled out rural initiatives to reach Idaho students where they are
  • Began the Bronco Gap Year program to offer students who need to step away from college a way to stay connected
  • Formed a business partnership hub that brings together industry and academics to solve problems
  • Achieved some of the best student-athlete academic performance rates in the country

A sample of current research and sponsored projects awards include:

  • Boise State’s Center of Biomolecular Research Excellence, directed by professor Julie Oxford, received $2.1 million from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. This award supports 35 research labs conducting investigations of breast cancer metastasis, ligament healing, liver fibrosis, skin cancer, vaccine development, tissue engineering, neuroinflammation, developmental biology and embryology, and cardiovascular health and disease.
  • Chemistry researcher Owen McDougal received three grants totaling over $580,000 to advance food and dairy production methods in Idaho. A grant from IGEM Commerce will be used to revolutionize potato chip production through Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) technology, while grants from the BUILD Dairy program and the National Dairy Council will focus on developing optical spectroscopy-based methods to evaluate quality and quantity of proteins in dairy products, as well as the study of bioactive agri-based proteins with therapeutic properties for drug development.
  • The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory awarded $1 million to geoscience associate professor H.P. Marshall to advance snow monitoring using optical, microwave, acoustic and seismic techniques. This award is one of several that demonstrate Boise State’s strength in snow science.

“We are doing this work for our students, wherever they are. We are doing this work for the future,” Tromp said. “The work that you do will affect generations to come. Our impact, as a university, our special location, our special character, who we are as an institution will not just make an impact on Idaho. It will make an impact on the world. What you do for our students now will impact this state long after we are all gone. You are a part of something extraordinary.”