Michigan Tech Rises in NSF Rankings, Math Makes the Top 100

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Michigan Tech has moved up six places in the National Science Foundation's annual report on research expenditures, to 173rd from 179th, Vice President for Research David Reed has announced.

Most notably, the Department of Mathematical Sciences has seen a phenomenal boost in the rankings. In its breakdown of research expenditures by field, the NSF publishes only the top 100, and in fiscal year 2005, Michigan Tech's math department did not make that list. But in FY2006, it rocketed up to 79th.

"They didn't just cross over into the top 100, they burst through," Reed said. "It's an amazing accomplishment."

The department's research program has been building for a number of years, he said, first under the leadership of former chair Al Baartmans and more recently with the support of the current chair, Mark Gockenbach.

"It's primarily the result of our faculty in statistical genetics," Gockenbach said. "They have received a lot of funding from the National Institutes of Health to study the genetic causes of disease using statistical techniques. Additionally, other faculty in discrete and applied mathematics have been doing important research that is being supported by funding agencies."

Max Seel, dean of sciences and arts, also commended the department. "This is exciting news for the Department of Mathematical Sciences," he said. "My congratulations and compliments go to the faculty who made this possible. I also would like to extend my thanks and recognition to the former department chair, Dr. Al Baartmans, who laid the foundation for the statistical genetics group."

The report lists Michigan Tech 125th among public institutions, up from 127th, and 75th among institutions without medical schools, up from 79th. At 9.7 percent, the University is 19th in the nation in the proportion of research supported by industry.

Eight other Michigan Tech departments and areas of study also maintained their standing among the NSF study's top 100.

With a 15 percent hike in research expenditures, mechanical engineering was ranked 21st in the nation, up from 23rd. Electrical and computer engineering was 87th, up from 90th, which was made possible by a 34 percent increase in funding. The overall total for engineering was 73rd, up from 79th; and environmental science was ranked 73rd, up from 74th.

Bioengineering/biomedical engineering was ranked 55th, down slightly from 53rd, in spite of a 34 percent growth in research expenditures.

Chemical engineering (52nd), civil and environmental engineering (53rd) and metallurgical and materials engineering (50th) also were listed among the top 100.

Michigan Tech's research program is continuing to grow. "Overall, we increased from $43.1 million to $56.6 million from FY2006 to FY2007," he said. "Though there is always some up and down, we should be looking at further increases this year in most disciplines, so the news should continue to be good going forward."

The NSF report is available at www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf08300/.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.