UM Ranked No. 6 in Nation for Research Growth

Originally from Shelby, lab technician Ashley Bielawski works in researcher Sarah Certel’s UM laboratory.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana is ranked in the top 10 nationwide for research growth, according to data from the National Science Foundation.

NSF is the national repository for data on research activity for 725 institutions of higher education across the nation. According to that data, UM ranked No. 6 nationally for research growth among all universities with more than $100 million in research expenditures.

“This ranking further underscores that UM faculty and student researchers are making a profound impact on some of the most pressing issues facing society,” said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship. “Whether it is critical COVID-19 vaccine research or studying snowpack to identify flood and drought risks, UM researchers are providing an incredible resource to our state.

“Amidst the pandemic, we have already exceeded $100 million in research awards this year,” he said, “which bodes well for continued research growth at UM.”

Research expenditures grew from $55 million in 2014 to $104.7 million in 2019 – the last year that data has been reported – nearly doubling the amount of research expenditures at Montana’s flagship university in just five years.

“Every dollar invested in research at UM is felt across our community and the region,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “Our growing research enterprise at UM is leading to not only new knowledge with benefits across sectors but also the creation of spin-off businesses that create new jobs and new opportunities for Montanans.”

Funding for UM’s research activity is secured by a large, diverse set of sources, including federal contracts and research grants. In 2019 alone, NIH invested $28.1 million in UM for research activities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture contributed another $6.5 million.

Research growth at UM is measured across a wide range of disciplines, which include health sciences, biological and biomedical sciences, natural resources and conservation, mathematical and physical sciences, geosciences, social sciences and computer sciences, and engineering.

To learn more about some of the ongoing research activities at UM, visit For all NSF research data, visit


Contact: Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship, 406-243-6670,; Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659,