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Michael Vallee and Richard Sottie work on February 28, 2022 at Clippinger Labratories at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

OU’s newly awarded R1 Classification brings national attention to university research projects

Ohio University’s recent classification as a “Research 1” institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has the potential to significantly increase the university’s visibility on a national scale. 

With the accomplishment, OU will be recognized alongside 141 other institutions with the highest level of research recognition under the Carnegie classification, according to a previous Post report.

Nathaniel Szewczyk, a professor of molecular medicine at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, said the classification may improve how students and professors interested in research view OU as an institution. 

In the past, some people may have overlooked OU because of its location in rural Ohio, Szewczyk said, however, its prestigious research status shows people that the university is “capable of doing world-class research.”

Steven Evans, a professor of psychology, explained that the R1 status enhances the outlook of the university. Being known as one of the highest research institutions in the nation helps build a strong reputation for not only the university but also the students, faculty and staff. 

“The move to ‘very high research activity’ (i.e., R1) increases our ability to attract top students into our doctoral programs and exceptional researchers to join our faculty,” Evans said in an email. 

Since the advancement of the newly appointed classification status, the university has pushed forward in offering more resources to partake in research. Recently, there has been a number of grants offered to different departments at the university to undergo specific research, according to a previous Post report

Jason Trembly, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment, or ISEE, said the institute was allotted over $5 million in federal funding throughout 2021 to boost an expansive range of research support, even before the university was classified with the R1 status. 

Trembly was unsure if the R1 designation will raise ISEE’s research funds because it is fairly early to determine how the classification will affect new grant-funded research activities. 

However, Trembly noted the designation should increase interest and recruitment toward upcoming research activities. 

In order for research grant proposals to get accepted, Evans said, any federal funding agency must go through several steps to decide if it can be accepted. One of the factors that agencies consider is the “research infrastructure and expertise at the university,” Evans said in an email.

With the contribution of the R1 designation, it likely will amplify reviewers' scores to the university’s proposals and increase the probability that a proposal gets funded. 

Since OU is now classified as one of the highest research institutions in the nation, moving forward, there may be an upward trend in the amount of undergraduate and graduate students wanting to attend the university. 

According to a previous Post report, many students wanted to come to OU because they knew they would be given multiple opportunities after graduating. The students explained they can obtain success at OU because the university upholds respected resources to make it possible. 

For graduate students wanting to obtain a doctoral degree, the R1 status would provide them with a higher demand for jobs after receiving a degree from a top-tier college, Trembly said. 

Overall, the designation demonstrates the university has a clear standard for “positive societal impacts to external stakeholders, including prospective students, industry and government funding agencies,” Trembly said in an email. 


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