LSU Sets Historic Record for Research Activity at $488 Million

June 12, 2024

LSU Sets Historic Record for Research Activity at $488 Million

Statewide achievement in research across all campuses added $1.3 billion in economic impact for Louisiana. Increased federal research funding demonstrates enduring success of LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda.

Last year, LSU announced a momentous jump in research activity in 2022, eclipsing the $400 million milestone across its eight campuses, achieving $428 million statewide. Today’s updated numbers for 2023 show combined research activity at $488 million—almost $500 million. This remarkable uptick represents a 14 percent increase for the LSU family, above the university’s aspirational goal of growing its collaborative research enterprise 10 percent year to year.

“We are phenomenally proud of the faculty and the true team efforts behind these numbers,” LSU President William F. Tate IV said. “Our talented scholars and staff are bringing discovery and innovation to Louisiana as we continue to solve problems for the world. At LSU, we build teams that win in research.”

University research activity is measured through expenditures. Spending across projects provides the most reliable data point to indicate success in research. While the monies spent primarily come from grants and contracts, expenditures are the better measurement of sustained effort and operational capacity. Large awards for big projects, lasting sometimes several years, would otherwise appear as wins only when first announced. Expenditures, meanwhile, show how those wins translate into continuous investment with broad economic impacts for the state—LSU’s 2023 research activity added $1.3 billion for Louisiana.

“Winning in research relies on talented faculty and facilities that attract federal funding to Louisiana and enable LSU to recruit exceptional students and make discoveries that improve the lives of everyone in our state,” said Robert Twilley, vice president of research and economic development at LSU. “It’s important to note that recent, remarkable LSU research wins, such as our $160 million grant from the National Science Foundation to secure the future of energy in Louisiana, won’t start showing up in our expenditures until around 2025. What this means is an expected increase in LSU national rankings and competitiveness.”

American research universities are ranked by their ability to compete for federal funding. The National Science Foundation, or NSF, is expected to confirm LSU’s numbers and provide an updated national ranking around November 2024. Because LSU’s campuses have operated as separate legal entities, the university’s current ranking is based only on its Baton Rouge campuses—the flagship, the AgCenter and LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center—which between 2022 and 2023 saw a 12 percent increase in research activity, from $344 million to $384 million. LSU is currently engaged in a university-wide effort to combine its statewide research numbers, allowing its full research capacity to be shared with the NSF through the agency’s annual Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, survey.

LSU’s rapid research growth speaks to the promise and strategy of the university’s Scholarship First Agenda, driving research investment to advance science and solutions for agriculture, biomedicine, coastal resilience, defense and energy. Federally funded projects that helped build strong research teams and drive LSU’s historic numbers for 2023 statewide include:

In Agriculture—

Developing More Sustainable Rice Varieties for the World: Researchers in the LSU College of Agriculture and LSU AgCenter, including research stations in Crowley and Winnsboro, Louisiana, are leading a $10 million effort funded by the National Institute of Food & Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to grow more and better rice using less land, less water and less energy. Learn more about the LSU AgCenter's research on rice sustainability.

In Biomedicine—

Combating Health Disparities and Chronic Disease Across Louisiana: The LSU-led Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) network, involving 11 university campuses and healthcare partners—including LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Health New Orleans, LSU Health Shreveport and the LSU flagship campus, is collaborating to make Louisiana healthier. Supported by the National Institutes of Health with $20 million over five years, LA CaTS has helped secure more than $210 million in external and mostly federal grants to fund disease-related research on cancer, obesity, diabetes and more, while leveraging bioinformatics and community participation. Learn more about PBRC's biomedical collaborations.

Fighting the Leading Cause of Death and Disability in the United States from Shreveport: The National Institutes of Health recently reinvested in LSU Health Shreveport’s Center for Redox Biology and Cardiovascular Disease with another $11 million over five years to find new and better ways to prevent and treat heart and vascular disease. Designated as a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, Shreveport’s state-of-the-art biomedical research cluster is discovering how oxidant stress and antioxidant defenses, the so-called “redox balance,” play critical roles. Learn more about COBRE.

In Coastal Resilience—

Explaining and Preventing Roseau Cane Die-Back to Protect Our Coast: LSU researchers are working across the academic disciplines to study and find solutions for the drastic decline and disappearance of Roseau cane, which helps stabilize the land and prevent erosion along the Gulf Coast. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service invested $1.6 million in LSU to discover opportunities for restoration. Learn more about the LSU AgCenter research on roseau cane die-back.

In Defense—

Supporting American Space Exploration: At “America’s rocket factory,” NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the rockets and space launch systems that will bring people back to the Moon and on to Mars are being put together using LSU equipment and support through the LSU National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, or NCAM. In 2022, NASA added to this ongoing collaboration by investing $5 million in LSU digital media expertise (later increased to $7.5 million) to build a digital twin of the giant factory. Such a real-time, virtual copy of the facility improves planning and operations while training a new generation of space scientists and engineers. Learn more about how LSU the supports the moon mission and beyond.

In Energy—

Leading Energy Innovation in Louisiana: Before LSU helped secure $160 million from the National Science Foundation to support the future of Louisiana’s energy industry and Tech Hubs designation for the state from the Economic Development Administration, LSU joined the H2theFuture team to transform the development of hydrogen and shift the industrial corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans toward a net-zero carbon future. LSU’s flagship campus serves as a testbed for improved capture, use, transport and storage of CO2 with the installation of a new wellbore and surface flowloop at the LSU Petroleum Engineering Research, Training & Testing, or PERTT, Lab. Learn more about CO2 capture, utilization, and sequestration.

Annual academic research expenditures are based on fiscal years, not calendar years. The 2023 fiscal year spanned July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.