Northeastern receives more than $230 million in new research awards

A gloved hand holds a slide under a microscope
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern University received more than $230 million in new research awards in the 2021-2022 academic year, establishing a record as the university builds on 16 years of growth.

New awards at Northeastern have more than quadrupled since 2006 when research was established as a priority by university President Joseph E. Aoun to address and solve persistent global challenges. 

Northeastern is actively utilizing more than $740 million in ongoing research awards overall. Those active awards have more than doubled over a 10-year span.

The strategic focus on building research came after years of steady growth that in 2015 earned Northeastern’s place among the top 115 universities in terms of research activity, as rated by the Carnegie Classification System

Today, Northeastern is among a select group of universities in the United States that exceed $200 million in annual research awards without having a medical campus.

“At Northeastern, magical things happen at the interface of research and learning,” said David Madigan, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We have brilliant researchers at the cutting edge of their fields, sharing their intellectual excitement, their real-world engagement and their deep knowledge with learners hell-bent on changing the world for the better. The extraordinary and continuing growth of our research enterprise drives our leadership and impact in the world and provides the bedrock for everything we do across the global university system.”

Of the 728 research awards secured by Northeastern in the 2021-2022 academic year, almost 500 were granted by the federal government at a total of $157 million. The National Science Foundation led the way with $57.8 million. The Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health provided $57.4 million, followed by the Department of Defense, which awarded $33.3 million to Northeastern.

The top 15 awards came from the federal government, including five from the National Science Foundation. The Department of Homeland Security awarded a $36 million grant to the Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems to lead a center of excellence called SENTRY (Soft Target Engineering to Neutralize the Threat RealitY).

“Our 2022 success reflects a culture of encouraging faculty and researchers to seek out discoveries and solutions to real-world challenges,” said Jack Cline, vice president for federal relations at Northeastern. “Awards for this hard work, I am confident, will continue at a pace that Northeastern has not yet seen before. It’s an exciting time to lobby for Northeastern’s priorities on Capitol Hill.”

Research awards are secured beyond the university’s Boston campus, including at the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, which advances the development of societal resilience in the face of modern-day risks; the Roux Institute, which uses private and public partnerships to build the tech industry in Maine; and Northeastern’s global network, including Northeastern in London.

Health, security and sustainability continue to be strategic focal points of Northeastern research. Here are a couple of highlights:

  • Security: The Kostas Research Institute received an $8.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense to test and evaluate the compatibility, vulnerability and durability of soldiers and their devices in battlefield situations.
  • Health: A wide variety of research is underway by Beth Molnar, a social and psychiatric epidemiologist, who focuses on family and child health; Carmen Sceppa, dean of Bouvé College of Health Sciences, who researches active lifestyles; and Charles Hillman, associate director of Northeastern’s Center for Cognitive and Brain Health, who leads studies on exercise, cognition and aging.
  • Sustainability: Aron Stubbins and Samuel Munoz, professors of marine and environmental sciences, were awarded an NSF grant to study how microplastics are accumulating and moving in the environment—especially in rivers and other waterways.

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