S&T, the high research activity university

Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

What are the advantages of a research university? I am often asked this question by potential student applicants and their parents. They often follow by asking a version of, “How does research help a university, the economy, the environment, the community and society?”

Their question is a smart, fundamental one that can be further parsed by considering the various types of research – hypothesis-driven, application-driven or solution-inspired research. The question is further important in that universities in this country operate with different missions and operational modes. In fact, the Carnegie Foundation, established by Congress in the early 20th Century, offers research classification levels that are widely referenced. As a university with “high research activity,” S&T has a distinguished niche: we not only convey information in all our degree programs, classrooms and labs, but we also gain and develop new knowledge, which enhances our teaching and experiential learning and fuels the economic engine of the state, the nation and the world.

As a “high research activity” university, we hire highly accomplished and talented faculty, research scientists, engineers and staff. As a result, in our inquisitive and knowledge-seeking environment, students work with and learn from the people whose creativity, research and discoveries contribute to advancing the world of science, technology and engineering. They become “imagineers” in addition to becoming engineers, scientists and creators of scholarly work. They become possibility thinkers. They build spacecraft and design the electronics in them, develop new ways to detect cancer, build better batteries and improve drinking water.

All of our doctoral students, most of our master’s degree students and many of our undergraduate students engage in research and create new knowledge themselves. They collaborate with their professors to contribute to the textbooks that will be used in the same classrooms in the future. Their work of discovery helps them advance and succeed in their personal and professional lives. Engagement in the process of discovery helps them learn how to learn and how to provide critical contributions to critical challenges; the four C’s of success in this very competitive world.

Our faculty and technological staff come to S&T because they know S&T is a destination of choice for smart and creative students and because they have access to world-class research facilities, equipment and instrumentation. They know that they will be working with colleagues who are similarly inspired and work in similar areas. The remarkable teamwork results in a critical mass that is the necessary impetus for new ideas. In turn, their efforts have created numerous opportunities for funding from national funding organizations such as NSF, NIH, DoD, DOE, DARPA, DHS, and the U.S. military, to name a few. This year and last, for example, four of our talented assistant professors individually received four of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER awards:

  • Dr. Marek Locmelis, assistant professor of geosciences and geological and petroleum engineering (GGPE), who is studying economically important metals such as nickel, copper and platinum
  • Dr. Jonathan Obrist-Farner, assistant professor of GGPE, who is digging into data from past earthquakes to better understand future seismic activity
  • Dr. Yun Seong Song, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, who is studying human-robot interaction
  • Dr. Chenglin Wu, assistant professor of structural engineering, who is studying two-dimensional metals for use in computer chips, sensors and coatings.

These Faculty Early Career Development awards go to a select few early career faculty members at research universities across the United States. The awards are described on the NSF site as “the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”

Here at S&T, we are very proud of all our faculty, research scientists and students who engage in world-class research and whose work has resulted in many inventions and innovative ideas over the decades. Our university’s history is full of technologies that have changed the world in their respective domains.

We are equally proud of our staff who support the necessary physical and organizational infrastructure that enable our accomplishments. Our staff members’ efforts contribute to S&T’s research success that can improve the quality of life.

Finally, but by no means last, is the impact that our research has on society. Here are just a few examples:

This is the role of a research university. And all this work and much more is happening at S&T. For a selection of videos on other exciting research, check out our research playlist on YouTube.

Have a great weekend.


Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
mo@mst.edu | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910