FAU PROFILE: Research & Creative Scholarship

Across disciplines, campuses, colleges and departments, faculty, students and staff at Florida Atlantic University are addressing critical societal issues and driving the innovative spirit that is fostered and practiced at the University. They are making discoveries in a broad range of disciplines, including biomedicine, biotechnology, marine science and ocean engineering. FAU has been designated a "High Research Activity" institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

FAU is a key research center for ocean engineering and ocean energy. Having created the nation’s first ocean engineering degree program in the 1960s, FAU is now home to the Center for Ocean Energy Technology (COET). In 2007, FAU was awarded this center as a Florida Center of Excellence established through a competitive state grant. Since its inception three years ago, the COET has received approximately $15 million dollars in state and federal funding. The COET was created to research, design, develop, implement and test ocean energy technologies that are cost-competitive with existing power technologies. Academic, government and industry partners of the COET are assessing hydrokinetic and thermal ocean energy resources off the east coast of Florida to advance the development of these resources for commercial-scale electrical power production. Researchers are performing several projects, including developing a 20-kW turbine. They have also deployed Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers to evaluate the state's ocean energy resources in the Gulf Stream. This instrumentation is helping them to gather baseline information, which is needed to characterize in detail the spatial and temporal variability of the Gulf Stream, the most energy dense ocean current, for its potential use as an abundant renewable energy source.

At Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, one of the nation’s foremost marine science research centers, FAU scientists, engineers, students and staff focus their efforts on ocean-related innovation, exploration, discovery, education and conservation. Harbor Branch became a research center within FAU in 2007. This May, FAU/HBOI received its single-largest award of $22.5 million over five-years from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a new cooperative institute headquartered at Harbor Branch and co-managed by the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The new institute will conduct research under three main themes: development of advanced underwater technologies; exploration and research of frontier regions of the eastern continental shelf and beyond; and improved understanding of deep and shallow coral ecosystems.

Florida is gaining a reputation as one of the top biotechnology centers in the country, and FAU is at the heart of this activity. For more than five years, FAU has been working closely with some of the world’s biotechnology giants to advance research economic development opportunities in the state. These endeavors have resulted in creating an environment that is attracting a nucleus of world-class biomedical scientists to Florida’s new research coast. FAU’s research mission is greatly enhanced by partnerships with these preeminent organizations, including Scripps Florida and the Max Planck Florida Institute, which are both housed on FAU’s Jupiter campus, and the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies. Scientists from the Max Planck Florida Institute are working in temporary facilities on the Jupiter campus until the Institute’s permanent 100,000-square-foot building is completed. The Florida facility will focus its scientific activities on bio-imaging using the most advanced techniques for visualization of microscopic molecular processes to achieve a deeper understanding of the structure, dynamics and function of molecules and tissues in order to tackle challenging problems in biology, bioengineering and medicine.

The recent FAU/Max Planck partnership has paved the way for cooperative research projects of mutual interest, joint-use facilities, affiliate faculty appointments at FAU, improved student training opportunities and joint seminars and public forums. This February, FAU and the Max Planck Florida Institute hosted a joint Nobel Laureate Lecture with Bert Sakmann, M.D., Ph.D., recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Medicine and director of the Max Planck Florida Institute.

In the pursuit to continue research excellence, FAU has introduced several new faculty programs this year including a plan to identify and establish three to five broad research priority areas or “themes” that will help distinguish FAU in research and help the University achieve national prominence. Beginning early next year, a new mentoring program will pair junior faculty and senior colleagues with compatible and complementary research interests either within their own department or college or another department or college at FAU with the objective of working together over the course of one year to prepare and submit a joint proposal for extramural funding. In addition, a two-year, pilot program will be implemented early next year to provide principal investigators, co-principal investigators, program directors, departments, colleges, centers and institutes with financial incentives to continue to enhance their extramural funding activity to facilitate the growth of research, creativity and public service at the University.

Research highlights include:

  • FAU is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a “Research University – High Research Activity” institution.

  • FAU has more than 3,784 graduate and professional students out of a total student population of more than 28,000.

  • FAU is working on collaborative research and education projects with three of the world’s premier scientific research organizations — Scripps Florida, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and the Max Planck Florida Institute.

  • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, a premier marine science research organization, is now part of FAU and is in the forefront of ocean exploration, innovation, conservation and education.

  • FAU has more than 40 research centers and institutes, many of which involve interdisciplinary research, established to carry out the research, service and instructional activities that supplement and extend instruction and research offered by the University.

  • FAU offers more than 60 graduate degrees and 21 doctoral degrees ranging from computer science to integrative biology to business administration.

  • FAU houses two fully equipped, state-of-the-art nucleic acid and proteomics core laboratories, and an imaging laboratory that enable faculty and student researchers as well as other scientists to perform cutting-edge research.

  • FAU has a number of technologies available for licensing that span a broad range of fields including cancer, inflammation, arthritis, imaging and security and surveillance.

  • FAU formed the Florida Atlantic Research & Development Authority in 1985, with the support of the Broward and Palm Beach county commissions.

  • The Florida Atlantic Research & Development Park is situated on 77 acres at the north end of FAU’s Boca Raton campus and on 14 acres in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Both parks enable businesses to have a fundamental connection with FAU and its faculty and students. This unique set-up helps the University develop synergistic research efforts with industry partners and provides opportunities for students to be employed in their fields of study.

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