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Furman ranks third in South Carolina in NSF funding

Furman University

Funding to Furman University from the National Science Foundation (NSF) has grown more than six-fold in recent years. New data from the NSF show Furman received $2.129 million in fiscal year 2020, the third-highest amount awarded in the state, behind only Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

“This is a significant accomplishment,” said John Wheeler, associate provost for integrated science at Furman. “Furman’s focus on high-impact experiences, including unprecedented student engagement in undergraduate research, coupled with the exceptional faculty activity across the sciences and science education, are contributing to new heights of recognition. This is manifested by the significant value of new awards from NSF and other competitive federal and private organizations.”

In 2017, Furman received research funds of $337,000 from the NSF. That grew to $497,000 in 2018 and $1.7 million in 2019.

The relatively large sum this year, unusual for liberal arts and sciences universities, is in part due to a $1 million grant from the NSF for scholarships over the next five years aimed at increasing diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. The scholarships will partially fund 12 incoming first-year students, half of whom are first-generation college students and students of color.

Other large grants included more than $700,000 in combined funding for purchasing scientific instruments awarded to Jason Rawlings, associate professor of biology, and George Shields, professor of chemistry, and a $400,000 Research in Undergraduate Institutions award to Jeff Petty, professor of chemistry, supporting the synthesis of DNA-encapsulated silver cluster chromophores for applications in sensing and imaging with collaborators at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Münster.

Since 2016, Furman also been awarded more than $1M through the NSF EPSCoR Track-1 program, Materials Assembly and Design Excellence in South Carolina, which funds statewide workforce development initiatives – including student curricular and undergraduate research opportunities at Furman – diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and a K-12 outreach effort directed by John Kaup, director of science education, that provides research experiences for high school teachers.

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