Crunching Numbers

Looking at increased research funding in the UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Science

This video was produced using a VO/SOT script created for the purpose of the article below. (Video/Sofi Gratas)

Research funding for the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has remained steady for about a decade, reaching nearly $40 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to data from the UGA Fact Book.

This funding comes from research grants awarded through a competitive application process, said CAES Associate Dean for Research Allen J. Moore. Most grants come from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation and state commodity commissions, such as those overseeing peanut, cotton and corn production.

CAES has remained in second place behind the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences regarding how much research funding it receives annually, a trend Moore said is completely dependent on the size of the colleges. According to the UGA Fact Book, the 2018 total student population in CAES was 2,038 versus 11,259 in Franklin College.

Moore said there is a direct correlation between the high amount of research funding CAES receives and an increasing number of research grants being applied for within the college’s nine different departments.

“More and more, we’re asking people to raise the bar, and be more competitive, and do more ambitious research,” Moore said. “And to do that it takes money.”

The UGA Office of Research and Graduate Education and the CAES Contracts and Grants team provide hands-on assistance during the grant application process, which Moore said is vital to maintain a university-wide emphasis on increasing research opportunities.

Jordan Baylor, a graduate student in the Department of Horticulture, started a research assistantship in January 2019 working in the woody ornamental lab. She is paid a stipend of about $1,700 a month to research Sarcococca, a flowery shrub also known as Sweet Box.

“I would not be able to come to grad school if it weren’t for the funding,” Baylor said. “And that was one of the things that held me back from grad school in the beginning.”

According to the National Science Foundation, in 2016 there were 384 UGA graduate students studying agricultural science or economics whose research was funded through research assistantships. Since 1994, there has been a relatively steady increase in the number of graduate students receiving this type of institutional support.

Audri Crews, sophomore poultry science major, currently does lab work for Associate Professor Kristin Navara studying hormone treatments and reproductive physiology in birds.

“It’s interesting to take [agriculture] classes and then do research and think about how the little bitty projects that you’re doing might lead toward improvements,” Crews said.

Because of the supportive, research-focussed environment CAES provides for its undergraduate students, Crews plans to conduct her own research at some point in her academic future.

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