Pirates achieve historic sponsored activities funding

Breaking Down the Numbers

Of the $85.6M:

  • Brody School of Medicine secured the top amount at $29.7M, followed by the College of Health and Human Performance at $13.6M
  • $18M funded interdisciplinary teams
  • $55.7M funded community engaged projects
  • $8.1M provided funding to student researchers
  • A record $3.6M Department of Defense funded projects
  • 439 faculty members conducted sponsored activities

East Carolina University recorded $85.6 million in sponsored awards, its highest level on record, during fiscal year 2023. The funding will go to innovative and impactful projects that will serve eastern North Carolina and communities around the globe.

Sponsored awards come from a variety of sources, including industry and foundations as well as state, national and federal agencies. Sponsored programs are projects or activities supported by funds from an external source or sponsor, and can include organized research, training and other scholarly, professional or creative projects. The process is often competitive, with ECU faculty vying for funding for their projects along with contenders from other universities.

This year, ECU had 24 awardees receive $1 million or more in total funding through grant proposals. Seven of those received between $2 million and $6 million in total funding.

As a medical and research institution, ECU is charged with using its resources to bring about transformative discoveries that lead to advancement and progress for students, patients, communities and neighbors around the world. Led by Pirate faculty members, the secured grants will fund research and other sponsored activities that will help drive important findings and breakthroughs.

Dr. Sharon Paynter, acting chief research and engagement officer, said, “Reaching this milestone required commitment and expertise across the university.”

Powerful Pursuits

Dr. David Lagomasino, top, works with a team to take soil cores in a coastal wetland. (Contributed photo)

Dr. David Lagomasino, top, works with a team to take soil cores in a coastal wetland. (Contributed photo)

ECU faculty are pursuing research and innovations aimed at delivering radical solutions to challenges – from medical advancements to storm resiliency – with a goal of ensuring a brighter future for all.

Dr. Doyle “Skip” Cummings, professor of public health in the Brody School of Medicine, received $6.1 million in funding to lead a multi-institutional team in implementing a statewide randomized clinical trial to test a new model of care for improving blood pressure control in high-risk patients.

As part of multi-year annual funding, Dr. Archana V. Hegde, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, received $5.1 million to support a program that provides continued professional development for pre-kindergarten teachers in nonpublic schools. Through coaching, evaluation, research and high-level mentoring, this program augments teaching quality and practices that positively impact child outcomes.

Dr. Sy Saeed, professor and chair emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and founding director for the Center for Telepsychiatry and e-Behavioral Health, was awarded $3.2 million to further expand the North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program (NC-STeP) that currently provides services in over 60 counties across the state. This expansion provides mental health care services to children and adolescents in rural and underserved areas.

ECU’s College of Education assistant dean, Dr. Elizabeth Hodge, received $2 million to increase teacher retention, helping to address the teacher shortage throughout the state through the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP), a collaboration with 11 other in-state public universities.

Dr. Siddharth Narayan, assistant professor in the Department of Coastal Studies, received a total of $1.9 million for interdisciplinary research projects that explore sustainable coastal adaptation. Working with research teams at ECU and around the globe, Narayan is examining how ecosystems like mangroves, tidal marshes and coral reefs protect people from storms and, in turn, how communities and institutions use, manage and conserve these ecosystems for future protection from increasing hazards.

Supporting Student Research

ECU faculty and staff continually explore new ways for students to gain experiences beyond the traditional classroom. Not only does research bring about transformative discoveries that benefit the future for all, but funded projects allow faculty members to build collaborative teams that include students.

According to the Council on Undergraduate Research, students involved in research are more successful in the classroom and better prepared for the workplace. It provides hands-on, real-world learning that trains students to be critical thinkers and further readies them to advance into their career fields.

“Undergraduate students who engage with leading faculty experts in research or creative endeavors can access boundless experiential and learning benefits,” said Dr. Tuan Tran, director of undergraduate research. “Faculty mentoring is the bedrock of reinforcement and support for undergraduates throughout their progression in higher education. ECU leads the way in helping students reach their full potential with grant funding, resources and outlets for their personal growth.”

Looking Ahead

ECU is projected to exceed the record over the next fiscal year, and leaders say supporters and partners should be encouraged by the quality of innovative research and other activities generated by faculty, staff and students.

Provost Robin Coger said, “This year’s research successes were made possible by the hard work of the faculty, staff and students engaged in these exciting projects. I am proud of them, Dr. Paynter and the research, economic development and engagement team for their accomplishments and look forward to the impact that ECU’s research deliverables will continue to make in this region, the state, the nation and the world.”

Related: Read about other cutting-edge work being done at ECU.