vol14 Annual Report

2005-06 Breeds Significant NC State Research Initiatives

Research development at NC State took a big leap forward in 2005-06, with new broadly based research institutes and centers of excellence proposed and initiated by faculty throughout the University. "Institutes and centers play a pivotal role in enhancing our position as a leading research university for the 21st century," said Chancellor James Oblinger. "Through key partnerships, our centers and institutes help leverage NC State's strengths to generate new knowledge, create innovative technology, contribute to economic development and improve services and products. They also help to develop the educational experiences of our students through undergraduate and graduate research opportunities." Institutes and centers also played an important role in generating the 5.6% increase in research awards received by NC State in 2005-06.

Joining the list of 55 existing centers and institutes at NC State (see www.ncsu.edu/sparcs/centers/), one institute and six multidisciplinary centers of excellence were initiated in 2005-06. These include:

  • The Institute of Maintenance Science and Technology
  • The Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research
  • The Semiconductor Power Electronic Center
  • The Forest Biomaterials and Biotechnology Research and Education Center
  • The Cooperative Tourism Center
  • The Center for Research of the Nano/Bio Material Interface
  • The North Carolina Coastal Resources Law, Planning and Policy Center

"Centers and institutes employ highly competent faculty and students, offering partners a critical mass of talent that surpasses the capabilities of individual organizations," explains Dr. John Gilligan, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies. "They are usually very successful in attracting research funding from government and industry, and each supports a substantial educational component, especially at the graduate level."

Working with Dr. Steven Lommel, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development, faculty focus groups have been engaged in planning for other institutes and centers in nanotechnology, nonwoven textiles, systems biology, energy and biofuels, and neutron sciences–all areas where NC State has substantial interdisciplinary strength. These focus groups are gauging available funding at the federal or state level as well as industry partnership interest.

In general, an institute has a much larger scale mission than a center and some are made up of several centers, each with a smaller and more specific scope of work. All institutes and centers involve faculty and students in more than one department. In addition, they often include the participation of other institutions, agencies, or organizations such as hospitals, industry, foundations, or governmental bodies. "It takes a real expertise and time commitment to create a research institute or center," says Lommel. "The faculty behind these initiatives are our best, brightest, and most committed to breaking into emerging fields of research, education and service."