Research; University News

Clemson research awards jump 78%, reach institutional milestone


Clemson University amassed more than $282 million in competitive research awards in fiscal year 2023, spurring heightened levels of innovation and workforce development made possible through scholarship and discovery.

The $282 million invested by federal agencies and institutional collaborators marks a highpoint for Clemson and an increase of 78 percent from the prior fiscal year.

“Clemson University continues to shatter our previous record of competitive research awards, with an all-time high of $282 million awarded to our research teams,” said President Jim Clements. “Our faculty and staff’s commitment to tackling today’s challenges is evident in their innovation, collaboration across industry and community engagement. I am thrilled that Clemson University continues to have a major impact on the lives of people across the state of South Carolina and beyond.”

The competitively bid awards build research capacity by funding researchers, students, facilities, high-tech equipment and supplies.

“With these investments, funding agencies have placed great trust in Clemson to continue to innovate and prepare a workforce to lead us into the future,” said Tanju Karanfil, Clemson University senior vice president for research, scholarship and creative endeavors. “We work closely with local industry, state agencies, health care providers, K-12 educational institutions, the agricultural sector, national laboratories and numerous other collaborators to maximize the local economic impact of our work.”

Karanfil attributed growth in awards to a university-wide commitment to maturing Clemson into one of the nation’s most active Carnegie R1 research institutions, crediting university leadership, deans, associate deans, department chairs, faculty, research associates, graduate students and support staff with implementing a shared vision to enhance Clemson’s research enterprise.

Awards growth was fueled by numerous high-value investments from federal agencies seeking innovations in agriculture, health care, K-12 education, energy and other areas. Some examples of high-value grants awarded to Clemson in FY2023 include:

Dignitaries from South Carolina State University, Clemson University, the state of South Carolina and U.S. Congress stand in front of a banner with Clemson and S.C. State logos
Representatives from South Carolina, U.S. Congress and the USDA announced a $70 million investment into Clemson and South Carolina State universities to support Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $70 million to a collaboration between Clemson and South Carolina State University – the largest single award from a federal agency in Clemson’s history – to implement climate-smart agricultural production practices across the state.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded a $20 million grant to a Clemson-led project that aims to modernize health care diagnostics and treatment in South Carolina with the use of AI.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $10.4 million to develop AI-enabled, cloud-based, inverse design tools that can accelerate the discovery and manufacturing of new high-performance composite materials.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $10 million for Clemson to study development of a platform for growing salt-tolerant crops using saline water for irrigation.
A composite photo showing 7 men and women in a tile format indicating they are the recipients of early CAREER awards.
Seven Clemson University faculty earned Early CAREER Awards from the National Science Foundation.

Additionally, junior faculty members at Clemson are earning the nation’s most prestigious awards for early career researchers, including seven Early CAREER Awards from the National Science Foundation, a Young Investigator Research Program Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and for the first time, a prestigious Beckman Young Investigator Award.

“These highly competitive programs serve as catalysts to jumpstart the careers of the nation’s most promising young faculty,” Karanfil said. “These faculty will be leaders of their fields in the future.”

The latest annual growth in competitive research awards continues a trend for Clemson, which is rated among the most active doctoral research institutions in the country with a Carnegie R1 classification by the Carnegie Classification of the American Council on Education.

Clemson aims to enhance its research enterprise further, setting a goal to double research by 2035 as part of the Clemson Elevate strategic plan.

“The curiosity of our faculty and the excellence of our student body is solidifying Clemson’s place as an impactful Carnegie R1 research institution,” Karanfil said. “It is an exciting time to be a Clemson Tiger.” 

Detailed reports on Clemson’s research growth are available here.

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