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Boise State’s 2021 research awards reach all-time high, despite pandemic

Campus aerial, B and city, Matt Crook photo.

Despite the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boise State University broke records for 2021 research and sponsored project awards and expenditures.

In 2021, Boise State received 425 research and sponsored project awards, totaling more than $65 million, an increase of 13% from last year’s award dollars and 58% in the past five years. Additionally, Boise State research expenditures reached new heights at $55.7 million, rising 16% from 2020 and 59% from five years ago.

“A record research year for Boise State is a win for all of Idaho,” said Dr. Marlene Tromp, Boise State president. “Discoveries at research universities like ours help address the big challenges we all face, from wildfire prevention to water usage to strengthening our economy. Research improves lives. I am incredibly proud of the dedication and perseverance our research community has shown, and their positive contributions to our state and world.”

Research and sponsored project awards help provide Boise State students a comprehensive experience, with opportunities to grow and excel outside of the classroom. Students engaged in hands-on research projects obtain workforce-relevant professional experiences, as well as opportunities to work alongside and learn from award-winning faculty, to ask questions that might not arise in the classroom, and to become contributors to their fields of study. Simultaneously, interactions with students in the research process enhance a faculty member’s teaching and inspire cutting-edge coursework content.

“Our faculty, staff, and students are outstanding – and their activities in research and creative activity, beyond just the numbers, are yet more examples of their dedication to excellence,” said interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Nancy Glenn. “Conducting research and creative activities is critical to ensuring top-tier education and life-long experiences for Boise State students, and to bolstering the State of Idaho in every sector. These research and sponsored project investments by federal, state and local business institutions indicate confidence in Boise State’s talent and mission, and bear witness to our university’s dedication to the advancement of education, knowledge and the well-being of our community and state.”

A sample of current research and sponsored projects awards include:

B Plaza, photo Patrick Sweeney

Julie Oxford

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 chair and professor Owen McDougal. Photo by Priscilla Grover

Owen McDougal

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.

Geophysics student Jukes Liu and Marshall conducting snow research during helicopter flyover, John Kelly photo.

H.P. Marshall

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.

Photo by Kendra Kaiser

Kendra Kaiser

Assistant research professor Kendra Kaiser is currently conducting research with Wood River Water Collaborative to develop water resource management tools that integrate data sources to provide timely information about water availability. These tools can improve management of surface and groundwater resources to help meet both agricultural and conservation goals. This project will develop predictive statistical models for the Wood River and Camas Creek above Magic Reservoir (Blaine and Camas counties, Idaho) and on Silver Creek (Picabo, Idaho).

sheep grazing
Sheep grazing on the Sawtooth National Forest outside Ketchum, Photo by Kelly Hopping

Kelly Hopping

Assistant professor Kelly Hopping is collaborating on proposals with the Rangeland Management Specialist for the Ketchum and Hailey districts of the Sawtooth National Forest, as well as researchers from Boise State, University of Idaho, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and regional sheep producers to support research on different aspects of sustainable management of public lands used for sheep grazing. Because these ecosystems are being altered by climate change, wildfire, and invasive species, the team is interested in examining ways that sheep might be able to be used as part of the solution to these challenges.

friendship bridge
Campus scenes, Fall, students, Friendship Bridge. John Kelly photo

Idaho Policy Institute

Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State conducts multiple projects in the West Central Mountains region. In April 2021, the Institute completed a report sponsored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts that explored establishing a creative district in the region, and the Commission is now in the process of implementing that initiative. Additionally, in 2018 Idaho Policy Institute partnered with West Central Mountains Economic Development Council to analyze the workforce needs of the region. As a result, the region launched a number of workforce development initiatives.