A Letter from Gloria Waters Breaking Barriers

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Research Annual Report for Boston University. It’s been an exciting year in discovery, both on and off campus. Whether it’s helping illuminate black holes for the world to see, working to halt lung disease before it starts, or identifying mental health risks among transgender students, our researchers have been busy.

Indeed, what sets BU apart is our exceptional faculty. They are leaders in their fields, going from the ends of the earth to the edge of space to conduct groundbreaking research that has the potential to change lives and society. They ask the hard questions and reach across disciplines to find the answers, tackling everything from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, gun violence, and racism, to climate change and cybersecurity.

Our strategic efforts to attract and retain these high-quality scholars and researchers is paying off. Despite national concerns over lower levels of support, the University saw more than $570 million in sponsored research awards in FY19, a 19% jump over the previous year. In fact, since 2010, we’ve seen an overall increase of 42%.

It’s not just funders who have taken notice, either. Last year alone, six of our faculty researchers received a National Science Foundation Early Career Award and two were honored with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, while several others were invited to join prestigious national academies.

On campus, we’re continually looking for ways to invest in this brain power. We recently opened our first BSL-4 lab—one of only 13 in the nation—at our National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. Last year, the University announced the inaugural call for grant proposals from the Rajen Kilachand Fund for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering, a $100 million internal endowment intended to advance, in perpetuity, groundbreaking research at the intersection of the life sciences and engineering. And we established the Industry Engagement office to increase collaboration and industry-sponsored research.

So what does next year hold for our research community? We’ll have to let our faculty answer that as they grapple with the problems of tomorrow. But one area where Boston University is making a major commitment to lead is in the emerging field of data sciences. We’ve started site work for a 19-story tower in the heart of campus to house a data sciences center, which will gather the mathematics and statistics and computer science departments under one roof. The research potential resulting from the rapidly growing supply of raw data and expanding computational capacity points to an even brighter future for our research efforts across the board.

There’s plenty to explore on this site and I encourage you to take a look around. I hope you like what you find.

Gloria Waters,
Vice President and Associate Provost for Research