While student fees have increased to an all-time high, UC Davis research funding has also set a record in the last fiscal year.
Funding for research reached almost $679 million, double what it was a decade ago. This coincides with a recent 32 percent hike in undergraduate tuition fees in the past year.
Three departments within UC Davis received almost half of the funding allotted by the federal funding for the 2009 to 2010 fiscal year – the UC Davis School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The School of Medicine received $211 million in the last fiscal year, an increase of $175 million from the previous year. The majority of the funding came from federal institutions, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Lars Berglund, associate dean for translational and clinical research for the School of Medicine, attributes the increase to a strong school infrastructure, making it easier to conduct research. He also cited the recruitment of faculty with significant research experience from other institutions as a factor for increased funding.
The UC Davis School of Medicine focuses on many different afflictions, including cancer, mental diseases in children and debilitating diseases in the elderly, he said.
Another department, the School of Veterinary Medicine, received $109 million, a jump from the previous year’s $71 million. Like the School of Medicine, funding for the School of Veterinary Medicine comes largely from federal sources, such as the NIH and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Juanita Humphrey, the assistant dean for research development for the school, said the major projects in progress at the school right now focus on animal diseases.
“Right now, we have a $75 million proposition that was funded though the USAID, and it’s for avian and pandemic influenza and zoological diseases,” Humphrey said.
The School of Veterinary Medicine is also working on a project called “Predict,” a warning system for detecting the transference of diseases from animals to humans, the school’s website said.
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences came in third for funding with $108 million. According to the college’s website, its main priorities for development are plant and animal genomics, California water management, agriculture and human health and environmental policy.
Last year’s figures for research funding, while record-breaking, have some students questioning the school’s priorities.
“I know that UC Davis is a big research school, so [research funding] is really important, but I think tuition fees should be more of a priority,” said Megan Rudolph, a sophomore neurobiology, physiology and behavior major. “I don’t think it should cost that much to get an education while they’re spending a lot of money on extra stuff.”
Jeremy Teeter, a senior psychology major, agrees but notes that research has always been a high priority for the UC system.
“I was actually warned while touring one of the CSUs that the UC system focused on research and graduate studies more than undergrad,” he said.
While he agrees that research is important, students’ needs should come first.
“[Research is] why the UCs are a world-renowned system,” Teeter said. “[But] I think the most important thing should be keeping fees down.”
ELIANA SMITH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.