The University of Wisconsin dropped one spot to No. 4 this year in the top-five rankings for all research universities in the United States.
According to a UW statement, the university placed behind Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Washington at Seattle. The statement said UW spent more than $1.1 billion in research in 2011.
Paul DeLuca, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the university has traditionally been in the top five rankings for the past 30 years. He said it continues to remain high in the rankings as a result of the creativity of the researchers and research process.
“The only way the university will continue to keep this ranking is to keep and maintain the depth, breadth and quality of research programs,” DeLuca said.
According to DeLuca, one of the largest research programs at UW is the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. He said the center is one of three national centers that researches the creation of deriving energy sources from the cellulose in plants.
The GLBRC utilizes three different colleges on campus, including the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the College of Letters and Science and the College of Engineering, DeLuca said.
The UW Cancer Comprehensive Center is another of the university’s large research programs.
DeLuca said the university receives funding for research from nearly every federal institution, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. According to the statement, nearly $600 million in research awards were granted to the university by the federal government in 2011.
Deborah Johnson, spokesperson for the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW, said the institution’s research is reliant on federal government funds.
“The university continues to remain high in the rankings due to the continuous support they receive from federal funding,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the IRP is a multidisciplinary institute that performs research on a broad range of areas with nearly 100 affiliates across campus. She said some of the research it does involves poverty, health, child support and nutrition. Some of the research it has done in the past regarding child support has influenced public policy, Johnson said.
According to the statement, the university research rankings are based on the amount of money it spends on science, engineering and other scholarly activities. It said the National Science Foundation conducts a survey every year to determine this information.
DeLuca said the rankings are based purely on federal, state, institutional and commercial funding. He said the amount of money universities receive from different sources of funding each year proves to be indicative of their rank.
He added the funds received for research are used directly in programs across the university and added the university will not gain a profit margin from these funds.