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From $4,250 to test a wax coating for pineapples to $503,000 to train urban planners in Vietnam to $26 million for research at the Maui High Performance Computing Center, the University of Hawaii has attracted a record amount of grant funding.
Research and training grants increased by more than $23 million to more than $353 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to UH figures.
UH Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Gaines credits the faculty for the record income, noting that the number of projects funded is about the same as last year, but the size of the awards is growing.
"We have a faculty that's been maturing in their science and technology where they are just attracting larger and larger grants," Gaines said.
UH-Hilo has also been increasing its research and training activities, to $18.6 million this year from $3 million in 1998.
UH saw a big jump in grant money when it beat out the University of New Mexico for the contract to manage the Maui supercomputer in fiscal year 2002. The center recently received a letter from the Air Force extending the contract for another three years.
In 2003, federal expenditures for research at UH-Manoa increased nearly 30 percent from the previous fiscal year to $143.6 million, ranking 31st in the nation for public universities and 54th in the country for all universities.
Gaines said the new medical school and the biotech research centers in Kakaako also have the potential to attract more grant funding.
He said the research done at UH also helps improve the quality of health care in Hawaii.
"The cancer center, for a small unit, brings in very, very large research grants and they're doing cutting-edge research in cancer," Gaines said.
About 80 percent of the grant money goes to salaries, he added.
"It's really putting a lot of people in the state to work and the university is one of the big employers," he said.
The largest sources of grants are the Defense Department, the National Science Foundation and NASA, said Linda Johnsrud, interim associate vice president for policy and planning. UH also gets money from other federal agencies, the state, foundations, private businesses, and foreign governments and companies.
Johnsrud said the research and training money that the university brings in is an example of the economic impact of higher education.
"We're 3 percent of Hawaii's gross state product, so it makes us even bigger than agriculture," Johnsrud said.
She said a UH study done in 2003 calculated that spending by the university on all 10 campuses, including tuition and state general funds, totals about $989 million. About $1.4 billion is spent on UH-related activities when other spending by students, retired UH employees and out-of state visitors attending UH events is included.