University Research Foundation: Demographics

URF: Supporting all Disciplines, Faculty and Undergrads

Supporting Research Across All Disciplines

The goal of URF is to support research across the spectrum of disciplines on campus. To ensure that all fields are represented in the context of their disciplinary cultures, proposals are submitted to, and evaluated by, scholars who serve on one of four panels: Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Engineering, and Social Science and Management. The breadth of the panel categories is such that each makes awards to many schools, without regard for the home school.

The Number of Submitted Proposals Varies. The Number Awards is Stable


The differences in the cultures and sizes of the fields are reflected in the awards. The average size of the grants is largest for Biomedical Sciences and smallest for Humanities, reflecting the significant difference in the type of activities that constitute research in the respective fields. Additionally, the Biomedical Science panel awards to six schools, whereas the Natural Science panel typically awards to two schools. A comparison of the top 15 departments receiving the most awards for each panel illustrates the diversity of topics supported within the panels. (See Appendix B) The distribution of the number of awards and the funds awarded reflects the distribution of the research in our portfolio.

Success Rate is a Reasonable Balance Between Hyper Competitiveness and Quality Control


These discipline specific factors result in a much higher success rate for awards in humanities, both in terms of the number of proposals and the amount of support. Unsurprisingly, the overall distribution of funds reflects the relative sizes of the schools, as well as the differences in cost structures of research in the various fields.


Success Rates of Panels Varies
Supporting Faculty Throughout Their Careers

URF grants are awarded across all faculty ranks. Though the small sample size when separated by faculty rank leads to variations in the longitudinal data, no apparent systemic preference by rank is obvious. Assistant professors are not disadvantaged in the process. This is confirmed by a comparison of the number of proposals and the number of awards over the eight years. Success rates of junior faculty are like those of senior faculty and the overall success rate is better than that of federal agencies.

A comparison of the number of awards by rank for each disciplinary panel shows that for Biomedical Science and Social Sciences, assistant professors receive the largest fraction of the awards. In the Humanities, the number of awards to assistant professors is nearly the same as that to associate professors and higher than that to full professors. In the Natural Sciences, full professors receive the largest fraction of the awards. In the Biomedical Sciences, the assistant professors received the highest fraction of the awards. The distribution amongst the ranks generally is well balanced.

Faculty at All Ranks are Supported


Faculty at all Academic Ranks are Supported (assistant professors not disadvantaged) Data shows 2010 to 2017.


Distribution of Awards Amongst Academic Ranks is Similar Across Disciplines


Conferences: A Critical Component of Research in Many Fields

Recent Conferences:

  • The Future of the Left in Latin America
  • Partnerships to Increase Activity in Youth and their Families
  • Russian Foreign Policy in the Putin Era
  • Workshops on Philosophy
  • String Theory for Natural Sciences
  • History of Medicine
  • Testimony and Epistemology in the Age of Fake News
  • Contemporary Russian Culture Beyond the Russian Federation
  • Regional Workshop in Ancient Judaism
  • Teach of Liberal Arts to Diverse Students
  • Economics of Crime


The URF supported 125 conferences during the report periods. Most of the conference awards and the support levels were the highest for the Humanities and lowest for Biomedical Sciences, consistent with the relative roles that conferences play in those fields. Topics ranged from String Theory to the Future of the Left in Latin America; from Economics of Crime to the History of Medicine. URF support of conferences must be matched by a school or center. In sum, over $340,000 in URF funds were directed to support conferences over the last eight years.

URF Conference Grant funding, supplemented by funding from the School of Arts and Sciences and gifts to the Netter Center, supported a December 2015 national conference on University-Assisted Community Schools: Advancing the Model Nationally and Globally. This event brought together over 170 participants from higher education-community school partnerships to learn from each other to build and strengthen a national network of higher education leaders engaged in developing and sustaining UACS.

URF Supporting Undergraduate Research

The URF supports the university goal to enable all undergraduate students to participate in research. To that end, since Fall 2009 the participation of undergraduates in URF funded programs has been an explicit evaluation criterion for proposals. The number of awardees who report that undergraduates will participate in the research varies from 54% in the Humanities to 91% in the Natural Sciences.

All Disciplines Support Undergraduate Research