Discoveries and innovations at CAS help make BU one of the top 40 research universities in the world. The Fall 2015 U.S. News & World Report ranking of the world’s top 500 research universities put Boston University at number 32. Some fields of study at BU were also highly ranked: Social Sciences and Public Health (#27), Physics (#30); Molecular Biology and Genetics (#34); Psychiatry and Psychology (#44); Neuroscience and Behavior (#46); Biology and Biochemistry (#56); Economics and Business (#60); Arts and Humanities (#73); and Environment and Ecology (#78).

CAS research changes the world, and the College continually changes itself at the same time, bolstering its strengths in new areas and adapting to an ever more interdisciplinary and collaborative academic landscape.

While universities and their faculty must compete for dwindling federal funding to support scientific and cultural advancement and graduate and undergraduate education, CAS faculty have nevertheless won $67.3 million in research funding in FY2015. That is a 7%, $4 million increase from FY2014. Such recognition in the form of funding allows CAS to make major contributions to human knowledge while growing Boston University’s role in the future of the arts and sciences. This year:

  • BU broke ground for the new Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering (CILSE) on Commonwealth Avenue. Collaboration will be the hallmark of 21st-century science, so the $140 million, nine-story facility is designed to bring together life scientists, engineers, and physicians from the Medical and Charles River Campuses, encouraging interdisciplinary research in systems neuroscience, cognitive neuroimaging, and biological design. Read more
  • David Marchant, CAS professor of earth & environment, and the College of Engineering’s Muhammad Zaman became BU’s first-ever recipients of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professorships in recognition of innovative techniques for undergraduate science education. Marchant is using his five-year professorship and $1 million grant to give students a year and a half in the CAS Experimental Permafrost Laboratory, studying geological phenomena and climate change. They will also develop media to engage and educate the general public with their research, and team up with local middle school teachers to make lesson plans. The BU students’ unique experience will culminate with participation in Marchant’s National Science Foundation–supported Antarctic fieldwork, either virtually in a lab or on-site at the bottom of the world.
  • John Porco, professor of chemistry, received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support the Center for Molecular Discovery. Formerly the Center for Chemical Methodology & Library Development, it has been home to the creation and cataloguing of synthesized molecules for over a decade. The grant supports the center’s transition to a new role, as biomedical researchers begin tapping its library for compounds to battle everything from fly-borne infectious diseases to leukemia.
  • The BU Center for the Humanities began awarding annual fellowships to support graduate students in the final stages of writing their dissertations. Each $11,000 fellowship comes with a semester in residence at the center, allowing graduate students to join the ranks of junior and senior faculty in the Fellows’ Seminar, at the core of the University’s humanities community.
  • Provost Jean Morrison announced an initiative to add six new data scientists over the next three years. Data scientists develop and use mathematical models to analyze mountains of data for a variety of applications, from health care and business to design and communications. The six new hires will bolster the University’s existing data science faculty, strengthening BU’s role in this burgeoning field. Read more
  • The new Center for Systems Neuroscience, led by CAS professor Michael Hasselmo, won a $300,000 National Science Foundation EAGER grant for an initiative to promote collaboration between physicists, mathematicians, and neuroscientists. Neuroscience faces the challenge of connecting massive numbers of microscopic factors to large phenomena like brain function and behavior. Professor Hasselmo and his colleagues hope the key lies in physics, a discipline that already has the tools to move from subatomic particles to whole galaxies.

Research Highlights

Settings for Sharing Knowledge

With well-respected programs in fields from history to biology to linguistics, CAS opens its campus for a number of well-received academic conferences each year. In 2014/15, the College facilitated a rich array of events that examined some of the most critical social and scientific issues and opportunities facing humankind.

The Initiative on Cities and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future co-hosted BU’s first conference on Sea Level Rise & the Future of Coastal Cities. The conference was the brainchild of the late Thomas Menino, former Mayor of Boston and CAS faculty member, who felt the challenges of climate change are of deep importance to coastal cities around the world, including Boston.

Thanks to a $175,000 Andrew W. Mellon Grant, the history and international relations departments launched a John E. Sawyer seminar series, “Reinterpreting the Twentieth Century.” The eight lectures challenged assumptions about the events of 1900–999—especially the dangerous misconception that they are irrelevant.

In March, Princeton professor Tali Mendelberg gave the Second Annual Silas Peirce Lecture, “The Silent Sex,” sharing groundbreaking research to show how institutional rules of a deliberative body impede women’s voices. And in April, the Pardee School hosted the major international conference “Youth in the Contemporary Muslim World,” drawing panelists from around the globe to speak on youth activism, the art of dissent, and education.

In the 21st century, sharing knowledge must go far beyond the lecture hall. In October, BU took a further step to publicize our research by launching a new website, Research. The site publishes articles, profiles, and videos aimed at policy makers, other universities, potential students and faculty, federal agencies, funders, and mainstream media. Read more

Annual Report 2014/2015

  • From the Dean From the Dean
    From recruiting ever-better faculty and students to surging ahead in our capital campaign, academic year 2014/2015 was a year of great accomplishments.
  • A New Era Begins at CAS A New Era Begins at CAS
    On August 1, 2015, CAS welcomed its new dean, Ann Cudd. Dean Cudd brings her own unique energy and vision to CAS and GRS and is deeply committed to enhancing—and affirming—the value of a liberal arts education.
  • Improving Undergraduate Education Improving Undergraduate Education
    CAS once again attracted our most talented class of undergraduates ever. And we laid the groundwork to serve them even better, offering expanded academic opportunities and a comprehensive First-Year Experience program with over 800 first-year participants.
  • Strengthening Graduate Education Strengthening Graduate Education
    BU’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences continues to see a dramatic increase in applicant quality and enrollment due to our new five-year PhD funding model that has heightened the attractiveness of our doctoral programs. New program initiatives have also resulted in more applicants to our master’s programs.
  • Enhancing a World-Class Faculty Enhancing a World-Class Faculty
    The quality of a university depends on the quality of its faculty, and hiring the best and giving them a strong start is crucial. In 2014/15, CAS hired 26 new professors across the humanities and social, natural, and computational sciences.
  • Conducting Pathbreaking Research Conducting Pathbreaking Research
    Discoveries and innovations at CAS help make BU one of the top 40 research universities in the world. Many fields of study at CAS are also highly ranked, including social sciences, physics, molecular biology and genetics, and psychology.
  • Deepening Our Global Mission Deepening Our Global Mission
    CAS is a major contributor to the international character of Boston University. The 2014–15 academic year was particularly eventful in this respect, being the inaugural year for the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.
  • Creating Our Future: The CAS Strategic Plan at Halftime Creating Our Future: The CAS Strategic Plan at Halftime
    In 2010, the College of Arts & Sciences crafted a bold 10-year plan to enhance all aspects of what we do: advancing undergraduate and graduate education, research, global partnerships, and the College’s relationships with its alumni. Over the past five years, we have made great strides toward these goals.
  • Nurturing Connections with Alumni and Friends Nurturing Connections with Alumni and Friends
    The College continues to develop new opportunities to engage and connect with CAS alumni and friends. In 2014–15, more than 5,000 CAS alumni registered for events hosted by the BU Alumni Association, accounting for 25% of all BU alumni event engagement.
  • Growing Our Capacity and Stewarding Our Resources Growing Our Capacity and Stewarding Our Resources
    BU is in the midst of our first-ever capital campaign. As of June 30th, 2015, CAS has received more than $93,595,000 in gifts from its alumni, parents and friends. Collectively these supporters have made more than 20,000 gifts to the CAS campaign.
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