It has been said that the cure for AIDS/HIV, COVID-19, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer and other ailments will come from a college graduate. The data for these discoveries came from our research together. The next source of energy, like a new battery or a new system to harvest energy from the earth, could come from even a student today — nearing graduation, in a place as simple as HSU. This is what makes scientific research so important.
There are many sources of funding at a university; and each carries with them a direct set of guidelines. Certainly there are the two obvious sources of funding: government funding and tuition and fees. There are other alternative sources, some from charities or other companies, such as B. the bookstore. There is another one that we as a campus track closely and use as a strength to recognize our faculty and staff. I am referring to third-party funding and research funding from a university.
It is no exaggeration to say that we at Humboldt outgrow our weight in research. We have been focused for many years on increasing our overall level of scholarship support, led by exceptional faculty and staff across campus. Their expertise and hard work, with the support of our team at the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Foundation, have provided our students with enhanced hands-on research opportunities.
Simply put, undergraduate students working with faculty on scholarship activities is an incredible opportunity not only for the faculty but also for the students. Both benefit greatly from the opportunity – as does society. For the faculty, it strengthens their academic profile (often referred to as a grant), which is later used by other academics for their research. It also serves individual advancement in stature, rank, and pay. For students it is primarily a learned skill and now an attribute that could be used in their future work. There is no question that it is also an important resume that allows students to potentially work in their particular field.
The HSU is a teaching-oriented institution. HSU is also very proud of our ‘learning by doing’ philosophy, often referred to as ‘hands-on learning’. A full 95% of HSU graduates have had some hands-on learning experience during their time as undergraduates. This makes them more marketable and ready for the workforce. This range of opportunities is an integral part of a polytechnic. It’s a foundation or area of focus that we already have as a campus and that we’re very proud of.
Undergraduate research is what we call a high impact practice. It has advantages for our students, such as: B. A higher likelihood of graduating from college, a higher chance of entering graduate school, improved analytical skills, and improved public speaking skills. It has been shown to be particularly good for retention and opens up career paths for traditionally underrepresented students. When it comes to doctoral MINT courses, we are number 8 among universities of our kind nationwide and number 1 in the CSU.
Research funding at Humboldt has grown particularly rapidly in recent years. Last year there were 301 new grant applications with an application for $84 million, which is an all-time high. There were 183 new awards totaling $30 million. The campus has 520 currently active projects with a total award value of US$96 million. Humboldt State ranks sixth out of 23 campuses in the California State University system in our annual awards average. The other five locations, for general information, are San Diego, San Jose, Fresno, San Francisco, and San Bernardino.
And we just got it: In the first six months of the current fiscal year, we received more than 100 new awards totaling $26.2 million.
What makes this particularly unique is that we don’t have many graduate students. While HSU has and is trying to expand graduate programs, we focus our efforts primarily on undergraduate students.
And all of this with a pending technical college entrance qualification. Imagine the greater possibilities with the designation, laboratory improvements, a new science building and new research facilities.
Research funds can be found in many places. There are many at HSU that are administered by grantees, including the Schatz Energy Research Center, our Small Business Development Center serving 36 counties, and the California Center for Rural Policy. There are others, large and small, managed by different centers or by individual faculty members.
• Our stem cell research program, led by Professor Amy Sprowles, recently provided $3.6 million for student internships. It will fund a diverse group of 10 undergraduate and graduate students each year for the next five years.
• A $250,000 grant from the USDA will award ¡Échale Ganas! fund, a hands-on learning support program for Latino/a students in science, technology, engineering, and math. It is led by Professors Matt Johnson and Rafael Cuevas-Uribe in collaboration with Fernando Paz from our El Centro Académico Cultural.
• A $950,000 grant supports 60 paid students and hundreds of students overall to study colonizing microbes on carnivorous plants. The project is led by Professor Catalina Cuellar-Gempeler.
There are many, many more.
As we look to the future, Humboldt will build on our research strengths and enhance our ability to support the work of researchers while providing amazing experiences to students. The knowledge gained will help other scientists and lead to societal improvements.
dr Tom Jackson Jr. is President of Humboldt State University.