Kansas University researchers completed a record amount of science and engineering research in 2002, but it wasn't enough to improve KU's ranking among U.S. universities.
In fact, KU slipped one spot -- to 83rd -- in the amount of federal research dollars it used during fiscal 2002, according to figures released Thursday by the National Science Foundation.
The decline came despite an 11 percent increase in science and engineering research from the previous year.
"It shows we're in a very competitive and growing field," said Kevin Boatright, interim executive vice chancellor for university relations.
Boatright said KU remained ranked 45th in its class of universities -- public institutions that are not solely a medical center.
KU conducted $82.7 million in federal science and engineering research during 2002. That amount has grown consistently for years, up from $31 million 10 years ago.
KU's ranking has slipped since 2000, when the university was 78th in the nation. But it still has improved since 1996, the first year data was available. KU was 95th that year.
"I think this tells us everybody is working hard at biomedical research," said Joan Hunt, senior associate dean for research and graduate education at KU Medical Center. "Getting ahead of everybody else's efforts is not easy."
Overall, federal funds for academic research increased 13.6 percent during 2002, the foundation reported.
KU officials are hoping two recent large grants will help the university's ranking during 2003 and 2004.
Hunt said a group of recent Medical Center recruits was bringing with them millions of dollars in federally funded research.
And Boatright noted that two large KU grants -- $17 million for the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis and $18 million for the Kansas Networks of Biomedical Research excellence -- weren't included in the 2002 figures. Both of those grants, the two largest in KU's history, were awarded in the 2004 federal fiscal year.
"Up or down one or two spaces is not cause for concern or huge celebration, because it's the overall trend that we tend to focus on," Boatright said. "And the overall trend of our research is upward."