Building Momentum

Dr. Michael D. Allen, MTSU vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, worked more than 14 years at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, where he spearheaded the study of nuclear reactor accidents similar to what occurred in Japan earlier this year. From using research reactors to melt the core of other reactors to conducting hydrogen explosions at desert test sites, Allen’s research background is a colorful one to say the least.

MTSU’s centennial in 2011 also marks my fourth year as vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. The University has made significant progress during the time I’ve been here, and I believe that the Office of Research and the College of Graduate Studies have contributed greatly to this success.

MTSU is in the process of transitioning from a primarily undergraduate institution to a doctoral research university with high research activity. Only a decade ago, MTSU was attracting less than $4 million in extramural sponsored awards for research, service, and instruction. Now, the University consistently garners between $35 million and $40 million annually.

A boost to the research enterprise was the addition of four new interdisciplinary doctoral programs that enrolled about 80 new doctoral students in their inaugural year—Molecular Biosciences, Computational Science, Mathematics and Science Education, and Literacy Studies. Building upon the initial success of the new Ph.D. programs, the University is developing programs to strengthen the research enterprise. Two newly established strategic centers, related to the Molecular Biosciences and Computational Science Ph.D. programs, are seeking extramural funding to support research in these areas. The most exciting development this fall is the promise of funding for the construction of a 258,000-foot biology and chemistry building that will expand space for laboratory research.

Building on this progress in key areas, I anticipate that the MTSU research enterprise will continue to make great strides in the coming years.