From the Vice President for Research

Amr Elnashai profile image

UH Research and Innovation continues its march of excellence and leaps from strength to strength. Our laboratories were offline for just three weeks during the peak of the virus crisis. We reopened our laboratories safely, securely and swiftly in under two weeks, processing submitted requests, developing guidelines and mechanisms for their enforcement, and modifying equipment and workspace layouts by the hundreds per week. All this paid gratifying dividends. Even under the severely restrictive working conditions that all researchers worldwide found themselves operating under, our research expenditure increased and broke the $200 million mark for the first time in our history. Early indications are that we have submitted over 1200 proposals, requesting in excess of three quarters of a billion dollars. Through all the confusion and tension we won 7% more proposals than in 2019, and secured 6% more funds than those secured in 2019. This is resilience at its very best. It shows what the UH researchers are made of, and how the central administration rose to the unprecedented challenge.

Just a few weeks back, the National Science Foundation published the 2019 Higher Education Research Database (HERD) numbers for all US universities. And what an impressive UH story these are. We have overtaken our friends and neighbors at Texas Tech in research expenditure, and while all universities do their best to jump up, we have jumped up higher than our ranking neighbors. We went from rank 123 to 117.

While all the above is encouraging news, as I shared with our readership in the previous issue of our annual report, we are only warming up. UH has just finalized its first comprehensive strategy, and have declared its objective of reaching the top 50 public universities ranking. Of the five strategic goals, Goal 2 aims at research preeminence. An implementation plan for Goal 2 is currently under development, and the implementation group has the full confidence and support of President Renu Khator and Provost Paula Short. Concurrently, the Division of Research is revving its engines to developing its second strategy, to propel our research and innovation enterprises to much higher echelons of preeminence.

I invite our faculty, alumni, peers and friends to examine the data presented in this annual report, and spread the word that the University of Houston is on an unbeatable trajectory to the top 50. While our performance is impressive, the best UH research and innovation days are still ahead.

Amr Elnashai, FREng
Vice President for Research

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Research By The Numbers




Total Funds




% Proposals


Total Projected
Award Amount


Number of Awards

Research Expenditures

Although the University research operations were restricted the last quarter of fiscal year 2020 due to the pandemic and the economic shutdown, UH experienced a rise in research expenditures for the year. UH hit $79 million in federal research expenditures, the highest number on record. The overall rise in research expenditures, along with the historic high in federal expenditures, shows the continued push of UH faculty to expand and grow the research enterprise.


Proposal activity grew nearly 3% in fiscal year 2020. Although an increase in proposal activity could be attributed to the remote working situation, UH campus operations were restricted for only six weeks. The $756 million mark for proposals submitted is the highest in recent history, demonstrated increased research activity across the board among UH’s prolific researchers.

Major Awards

UH continues to keep pace on major awards, earning more than $63 million in the $1 million-plus category. UH faculty made another record, earning a total of 32 major awards, the highest number in UH history. Faculty across STEM, social sciences and humanities earned major awards from agencies such as the Department of Education, Small Business Administration, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, in addition to the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.

Innovation By The Numbers








World Rank in
U.S. Utility Patents

Licensing Income

UH licensing income continues to grow, ending at $59 million for fiscal year 2020. A one-time legal settlement of nearly $15 million in fiscal year 2019 caused the licensing income to spike, so once again, UH saw a historical high for this measure.

Patents & Disclosures

The number of patents earned by UH inventors tied the all-time high at 40 for fiscal year 2020, the same number earned the previous year. UH hit the second-highest year for disclosures, a 50% rise from a decade ago.


Research & Innovation

FY20 Research Data

FY20 Innovation Data

UH Technology Bridge