While funded research at West Virginia University has grown substantially during the past decade, President James P. Clements used his first State of the University speech to announce ways to increase and strengthen this important work.

Total sponsored funding for WVU research initiatives increased 8 percent from $140.7 million in fiscal year 2008 to $152.3 million in fiscal year 2009.

WVU has also increased the number of competing federal grant awards from 103 to 128 in the last year, and the amount of these awards increased 33 percent.

Clements repeated a goal of attaining the Very High Research Activity ranking from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is currently ranked as High Research Activity.

“I have met with some of our best researchers and discussed our challenges,” he said, outlining a three-step process to help reach that goal:

_By Dec. 1, a “grants budget office” will assist principal investigators who are developing budgets for large, interdisciplinary and complex research proposals and individual investigator proposals.

_Beginning in spring 2010, the WVU Research Office will offer a mentoring program series each semester, which will focus on proposal development, budget preparation, compliance and technology transfer.

  • By spring 2010, an Electronic Research Administration system will be developed to aid submission of proposals to the federal government.

“With these three steps, we should have the primary structures in place to better support our faculty researchers, freeing them to focus on the actual scholarship of their work instead of administrative tasks,” he said.

Here is closer look at four main areas of research expertise at WVU:


• Researchers with WVU’s Advanced Energy Initiative are at work on a new approach to remotely monitor underground carbon dioxide storage with a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

WVU’s James Smith and fellow researchers developed and patented a new method for augmenting the flow of air over the blades of wind turbines. The new technology increases performance in varying wind speeds and directions, while creating much less environmental impact on wildlife and people. An agreement has been signed with a company to manufacture and market the new technology throughout the U.S.


• George O’Doherty, Ph.D., a chemistry professor in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, has received $293,000 in funding for two years from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research that may lead to the creation of cancer-fighting drugs. O’Doherty and his team of student researchers have been working on processes that are vital in the creation of new pharmaceuticals.

• Combat-related injuries have long plagued the military in part because of multidrug-resistant bacteria. Bingyun Li, Ph.D., of the Department of Orthopedics and director of the WVU Biomaterials, Bioengineering & Nanotechnology Laboratory is working to develop ways to spray a compound fracture with microcapsules that delivers a drug to bolster the immune system, stopping infection before it starts.

Security and Intelligence

WVU has received nearly $1 million in two grants from the FBI to further develop important evidence collection technologies and associated interactive training tools for FBI personnel.

WVU biometrics researcher Natalia Schmid, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has received a grant of close to $1 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop distributed smart camera networks that can quickly identify and alert authorities to abnormal activities in urban environments.


• Letha Sooter, assistant professor from the Department of Biology, has been awarded $409,733 from the US Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command Acquisition Center to generate devices that will detect explosives and chemical and biological warfare agents by searching for bio-molecules that identify biological and chemical hazards for civilians and soldiers.

• Researchers at WVU are on the quest to develop the next generation of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting that will be more efficient than anything now on the commercial market. Associate Professor Dimitris Korakakis says that while clean coal technology, biomass energy generation, solar panels and wind turbines are taking center stage in the public’s perception of major energy research, lighting can also have a major impact on saving energy.

More information on Clements’ State of the University address is available here: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2009/10/12/wvu-s-clements-shares-collective-vision-identifies-seven-key-areas-of-emphasis

More information on WVU’s state impact is available here: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2009/10/12/wvu-dedicated-to-improving-state-through-education-health-care-and-service