More than 90 percent of Kansans think university research is important to the state, according to a statewide survey to be released this morning at a Statehouse news conference.
Ray Merenstein, vice president of Research America, the organization that did the survey, said 48 percent of Kansans consider research to be very important and 45 percent of Kansans rank it as somewhat important.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway
Those numbers may go a long way in bolstering a campaign by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts to increase federal and state funding for research in Kansas. Roberts has been working for more than a year to increase science and technology research funding.
Kansas ranks below neighboring states by the amount of research funding it receives, Merenstein said.
Colorado, for instance, ranks third among the 50 states in National Science Foundation funds awarded to research institutions. Kansas ranks 39th in NSF funding. Colorado is the 24th most populous state and Kansas is 32nd by population.
While Roberts has campaigned to win federal dollars for researchers in Kansas, the senator also has been urging the state to spend more money on research.
That's a needed step, Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said.
"We'll only be able to secure federal funds for the state if there is a research infrastructure in place," Hemenway said.
"One thing this survey is saying is the American public and the Kansas public understand you have to make an investment in this for the economic future of the state," the chancellor said.
The Research America survey was done in late May and early June. It was a telephone survey of 800 adults in Kansas. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Research America is a Virginia-based education and advocacy organization seeking increased financial support of research across the nation. Its members include Kansas University and other universities.