UM campus

The University of Montana's Main Hall in Missoula

Kurt Wilson, Missoulian

The University of Montana brought in a record-breaking  $88 million in new research funding last year, about $2 million more than the previous year, which also set a record.

It was the third year in a row the university broke its external funding record, said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship. 

Whittenburg was brought in about five years ago to manage research enterprise for the university. Since then he has created the proposal development office on campus and has grown support services for professors looking for grant dollars. As the dollars have increased, so have the number of professors submitting proposals for research support, Whittenburg said.

The money helps to reimburse research costs, but also helps fund education costs for both graduate and undergraduate students who help the professors with their research, Whittenburg said.

Like Montana State University, the University of Montana is a Tier Two research institution, according to the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. Part of that classification has to do with the weight put on doctoral degrees, Whittenburg said.

But overall, UM is doing well nationally when it comes to the amount of research dollars it gets for its size. The National Science Foundation ranked UM 175th in research and development, out of almost 900 universities across the country.

Andrew Whiteley, an assistant professor of fisheries and conservation genomics at UM, will receive more than $800,000 over the next five years as he and his graduate students move small numbers of trout into isolated trout populations in order to teach students the effects of gene exchange. The foundation recognized Whiteley as an outstanding junior faculty member last year.

“What’s wonderful is that our students get to interact with and work alongside powerhouse researchers and scholars,” Whittenburg said in a news release.

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