UNI receives $40 million in grants for research and special projects

Students pour metal at the Metal Casting Center.


The University of Northern Iowa was awarded $40 million in competitive research grants, notching a five-year high in the latest sign of the institution’s strength in scholarship. 

It’s also the sixth highest amount UNI received since 1998. The grants awarded in the 2019 fiscal year, which ended last summer, will support 210 projects, the most since 2010. 

Those projects include important educational work on Iowa air and water quality as well as training to help local school officials address students’ mental-health needs and prevent violence. 

“At UNI, as is the case with many public comprehensive universities, the role of seeking and obtaining external grants and contracts to support research and scholarship is becoming more important every year as public funding fails to keep pace with budgetary needs,” said Tolif Hunt, director of research and sponsored programs at UNI. “External funding for research and scholarship plays a major role in helping position and distinguish UNI and its faculty as leaders in education, research, and scholarship.”

Many of the funded projects are public service projects. Public service is a longstanding signature of UNI’s sponsored programming portfolio, with projects focusing on transforming on-campus scholarship and research into real-world benefits for the local and regional communities.

“These funds help faculty stay at the cutting edge of their field; they directly support undergraduate and graduate student research and hands-on learning opportunities,” said Hunt. “They play a critical role in transferring information and technology from the UNI campus to the public and private sectors.”

The grants awards will fund a number of projects including:

  • The Iowa Educational Technology and Training Institute at UNI is developing the IOWA-Q (Iowa Water and Air Quality) project to engage Iowa teachers and students in air quality and water quality monitoring and remediation. 
  • Grants funded a series of edit-a-thons during the 2018-2019 academic year that will result in the creation and improvement of articles centering on people of color, members of other underrepresented groups, and social justice issues on English Wikipedia. 
  • The Iowa Department of Education will partner with UNI’s Center for Violence Prevention, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Human Services to provide training for school personnel to respond to threats of violence and prevent violence on campuses, training for school officials to respond to related mental health crises and education and awareness for students with the intent to prevent violence. 
  • UNI’s Metal Casting Center used grant funding to further upgrade equipment, giving students the chance to work with new materials and develop technologies to help innovate the industry. 

For more information on special projects at UNI, contact Hunt at 319-273-3217 or tolif.hunt@uni.edu.