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Research funding increases despite COVID-19 pandemic

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on the U.S. economy, research at Texas Woman’s University saw a slight increase in external funding as well as in the number of project proposals.

The Annual Report on Proposal and Grant Activity, presented by TWU’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (OSRP), shows that externally funded grants and contracts totaled $6,492,616 in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $206,077 from the previous year. A total of 69 grants were awarded, up from 59 in FY 2019.

More than half the external grant funding went toward research, with $3,975,799 in research grants awarded. That amount is up $644,358 over the previous year. The number of awards also increased, with 42 awards in FY 2020 compared to 31 in the previous fiscal year.

“The funding increase was a happy surprise because of the stress and increased challenges for faculty during the pandemic,” said Holly Hansen-Thomas, PhD, vice provost for research and innovation. She noted, however, that COVID-19 did not impact the full fiscal year, which ran Sept. 1, 2019, through Aug. 31, 2020.

Hansen-Thomas said the process of seeking funding hasn’t changed much due to the pandemic. OSRP staff work with associate deans in each TWU college to match researchers to potential grants. “Usually this happens through email anyway,” she said.

Hansen-Thomas noted that “the CRDA (Center for Research Design & Analysis) sometimes helps faculty identify potential grants, and they, along with our internal grant programs such as the Hanover Grants Academy, play an important role in identifying funding for researchers.

“All of our meetings are conducted through Zoom, of course, so that is a little different,” she added.

The research projects in the report cover:

  • Basic scientific research
  • Applied research in nursing, allied health sciences, social sciences and other areas
  • Education and training programs in community and business settings
  • Demonstration, model or pilot projects
  • Creative activities

Sources of funding include federal, state and private funding agencies.

Research proposals ranged from a request for support of a few hundred dollars from a professional association to an application for a million-dollar, multi-year project from a federal agency. None of the proposals involved studies related to COVID-19, Hansen-Thomas said.

More information is available in the ORSP Annual Report for FY2019-2020. The report on proposal and grant activity for external funding begins on page 19.