University of South Florida


Researcher in lab
Sudha Swamynathan, research associate in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology [Photo by: Ryan Rossy, USF Health]

USF research expenditures up 14%, surging to more than $461 million

By Tina Meketa, University Communications and Marketing

From advancements in health care to cybersecurity to K-12 education, the University of South Florida’s research enterprise continues to achieve tremendous growth.

USF’s research spending rose 14% in fiscal year 2023 to more than $461 million. Spending on awards funded by federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, increased to nearly 53% of USF’s total, up from 46% five years ago. 

Two researchers in lab

Shiva Swamynathan and Yiquin Du, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine [Photo by Allison Long, USF Health]

“Our growing research enterprise allows the University of South Florida to make an even greater impact in solving challenges, improving lives and creating a healthier future for the Tampa Bay region, state of Florida and beyond,” USF President Rhea Law said. “This significant year-over-year increase in research activity is a testament to our world-class faculty who continue to be at the forefront of new discoveries and innovations.”

USF’s position as one of the nation’s most research-intensive institutions was a significant factor in its invitation to join the prestigious Association of American Universities in 2023.  

“The remarkable increase in our research expenditures is a powerful indicator of the University of South Florida’s rapidly expanding research enterprise,” said Sylvia Wilson Thomas, USF vice president for research & innovation. “Driven by national and international grand challenges, USF researchers pursue critical knowledge that translates into real-world solutions.”

Students in cybersecurity classroom

[Photo by Torie Doll, University Communications and Marketing]

The increase is reflected in USF’s response to the National Science Foundation’s annual Higher Education Research and Development Survey, which serves as the primary source of information about the amount of research conducted by U.S. colleges and universities. While the NSF does not release a list of how universities compare until later in the year, based on last year’s rankings, $461 million would have placed USF No. 2 in Florida and No. 41 nationally among public universities.

Compared to last year, USF’s expenditures nearly doubled in computer and information sciences from $9.5 million to $18.8 million, largely driven by burgeoning cybersecurity programs. In collaboration with Cyber Florida, James Welsh, director of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, served as principal investigator of the Cyber/IT Pathways Project – a state-funded initiative to bolster the cybersecurity workforce through industry certifications, internships and educational materials. 

"Pathways projects had a direct and positive impact on more than 27,000 Floridians, but the real value of the investment is in the connections created between cybersecurity educators at institutions at all levels across the state, sharing best practices and innovative strategies directly with other educators," Welsh said.

Jeffrey Krischer

Jeffrey Krischer [Photo by Allison Long, USF Health]

Engineering research spending jumped 22% to $62 million with new initiatives in bioengineering, human mobility and defense research. Health sciences and social sciences also experienced double-digit percentage increases of 14% and 12%, respectively.

At $42 million, the USF Health Diabetes and Endocrinology Center generated the most research expenditures of any unit at USF. The center coordinates an international network of university medical centers and health care providers to study the causes of Type 1 diabetes and strategies for its prevention, resulting in the first-ever drug approved by the FDA for diabetes prevention. Even more exciting results are coming as the center supports leading-edge research in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and the largest microbiome study ever conducted in humans. 

Jose Castillo

[Photo courtesy of Associate Professor Jose Castillo]

“The result of our work together with physicians and scientists from all over the world has made a profound difference in many people’s lives,” said center Director Jeffrey Krischer. 

The Institute for School-Community Partnerships in the College of Education, led by Associate Professor Jose Castillo, utilized $17 million in research expenditures to implement several impactful projects, such as comprehensive training and technical assistance on literacy instruction, mental health services and assistive technology for students with disabilities. These supports were designed to improve the academic, social and overall well-being of students across the state of Florida. 

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