AAU Membership

Published December 21, 2015

The University at Buffalo is an established, successful member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). UB’s membership in the AAU advances the university’s success in securing federal research funds and attracting and retaining top faculty and students. UB’s research enterprise and academic programs directly benefit the Western New York community.

The University at Buffalo is the first New York State public university to be invited to join the AAU.  Now in its third decade of membership, the university is honored to have UB president Satish K. Tripathi join the AAU Board of Directors.

The breadth and quality of UB’s research, faculty scholarship and student accomplishments signifies that UB is one of the nation’s top public research universities. With prominent new federal research grants, significant prestigious faculty awards and recruitment of talented new faculty, UB is on an upward trajectory within AAU membership indicators.  UB expended $387 million in total research funds during the FY 13-14 year, which resulted in an overall economic impact of $731.9 million in NYS. In FY 13-14, UB’s operational and capital expenditures for sponsored research and other sponsored programs supported 4,372 jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is UB's status within the AAU?

UB was elected to membership in the Association of American Universities in 1989. UB is an exemplary member of the AAU and is on an upward trajectory. The breadth and quality of research, faculty scholarship and student accomplishments -- particularly over the past four to five years -- have strengthened UB's presence within the AAU.  

For example, the university was awarded at least four major federal research grants to lead national research initiatives (CTSA, WHI, BioEXFEL, ISEPS).  

Other indicators of our standing and upward trajectory include:

  • UB’s total research expenditures for the past four years have been over $300 million 
    • Federal awards: An increase of 22.2 percent over past five years
    • Federal awards 28.2 % increase over past 10 years
    • Total R&D: increase of 10 percent in last five years; increase of 44 percent last 10 years; 
    • Note: 7.7 decrease in federal awards 12-13 to 13-14 (end of AARA funding and effect of sequestration)
  • A major investment in recruitment of new faculty is fueling continued success in winning federal grants, in pursuit of innovative research and in the commercialization of faculty/student discoveries
    • Recruitment of talented faculty 
      • 291 total ladder faculty hires since NYSUNY 2020 began
      • Research active new hires have grant support averaging about $250K per faculty
    • Recent examples of commercialization of research by UB faculty and students include:
      • Refulgent Software – Founded by two UB students in 2011, this software company was acquired in September by a NYC-based company called ShopKeep. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
      • Cloud62 – A graduate of UB’s incubator site and Start-Up NY company, Cloud62 is building a hospitality software platform to help clubs and customers manage their businesses in the cloud. They were acquired in September by Chicago-based Huron Consulting Group.
      • ACV Auctions – Winner of the 2015 43North grand prize ($1 million), this company has developed software that help companies auction automobiles online. One of the co-founders is a UB alum and they are in Start-up NY.
      • Cytocybernetics – Winner of the 2015 43North semi-final prize ($500,000), this company is developing biotechnology that replicates heart cells, potentially saving companies hundreds of millions of dollars and valuable time while testing new drugs. Co-founded by UB professors Glenna Bett and Randy Rasmusson. Also in Start-up NY.
      • Pop Biotechnologies – Won ‘Rise of the Rest’ pitch competition in October ($100,000), this company was founded by three UB graduate students. They are licensing UB technology and won the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition.
      • For-Robin – A company founded by UB faculty member, received a $2 million grant to fight cancer.
  • UB faculty and students are recognized with major awards and honors
    • UB has seven faculty in National Academies, Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering
    • SUNY Distinguished Professors-- 27 named since 2010; and a total of 119 faculty who’ve received major awards, fellowships, memberships in prestigious NRC list
    • Recent faculty awards include:
      • Venu Govindaraju named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2015
      • Alex Cartwright named an NAI Fellow in 2014
      • One faculty named Fellow of the American Chemical Society
      • Six UB faculty received NSF Career awards within the past two years
      • Two architecture faculty named New York Foundation for the Arts fellows
      • Chemistry professor earned DuPont Young Professors award in 2014
    • UB students compete for major national and international honors
      • Two Marshall Scholars in the past 3 years (very competitive; fewer than 80 awarded each year)
      • UB GRoW Home—2nd place overall in national Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy
      • More students earning Goldwater, Fulbright, and other highly competitive fellowships.  Many of these students are mentored by top UB faculty researchers
        • 32 NSF grant fellowships (since 2009)
        • 18 Fulbright Scholars (since 2009)
        • 12 Goldwater Scholars (since 2009)
        • 3 Udall Scholars (since 2009)
        • Boren Scholars (since 2009)

How does UB’s strong position within the AAU help the university?

UB’s strong position within the AAU helps the university successfully compete for federal research funds and attract and retain top faculty and students.

UB was selected to lead major NSF- and NIH-funded research consortia.  These grants address national scientific priorities and major societal issues, such as innovation in life sciences and human health, global climate change, STEM education, nanotechnology, information security and advanced materials.  For example:  

  • Clinical and Translational Science Award from National Institutes of Health (2015) 
    • $16 million CTSA awarded to UB-led consortium; affords UB investigators and research teams the opportunity to apply for prestigious grants that are available exclusively to CTSA institutions.
    • Places UB in elite national tier of clinical/translational research centers
    • Establishes Buffalo as the future site for major clinical trials and research breakthroughs
  • BioXFEL Research Center in structural biology (2013) 
    • $25 Million Science and Technology Center (STC) grant from NSF
    • Highly competitive: only a small percent  of STC grants are funded by the NSF
    • UB-led consortium was one of only 3 institutions assembling winning teams, alongside Harvard and MIT
    • Groundbreaking work in drug development; potential to establish Buffalo as a hub for pioneering drug therapy
  • Women’s Health Initiative ( and 2015)
    • Largest longitudinal study in the U.S.; UB one of 16 original “vanguard” centers
    • Transformative impact on cancer, heart disease, stroke and dementia research
    • UB awarded a $6 million NIH grant in 2015 to extend the study thru 2020
  • Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership 
    • $9.8 M from the National Science Foundation to enhance teacher training in the math and science fields in Buffalo Public Schools.
    • UB-led partnership with Buffalo Public Schools, Buffalo State University and Buffalo Museum of Science
    • Selected by the White House to build a national a STEM Ecosystem to build U.S. students’ knowledge and expertise

Other prominent federally funded research underway at UB includes:

  • The National Institutes of Health has awarded $12 million to UB Professor Gene Morse in 2015 to lead a comprehensive quality assurance program in NIH-funded labs conducting HIV/AIDS and related clinical research programs. 
  • Associate Professor Jason Briner’s NSF-funded research on global climate change and shrinking Artic polar caps.   
  • UB’s Center of Excellence in Information Systems, Assurance, Research and Education has received more than $3 million in NSF funding over the past three years to study ways to better protect the U.S. from cyberattacks.  
  • $1.9 million NIH grant (2014) to UB biomedical engineering Professor John Lovell to create a new drug delivery method (nano-balloons) targeting cancer cells.
  • Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) in 2013 was awarded more than $6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund five innovative studies that will expand knowledge on societal ramifications of drug and alcohol use. 

How does UB's AAU status and activities benefit and advance the Western New York community?

  • UB has a total statewide economic impact of $2.18 billion. 
  • UB expended $387 million in research funds during the FY 13-14 year, which resulted in an overall economic impact of $731.9 million. These research dollars enter the NY economy from a wide variety of agencies and organizations including the NIH and the National Science Foundation.  
  • In FY 13-14, UB’s operational and capital expenditures for sponsored research and other sponsored programs supported 4,372 jobs. These jobs include not only UB’s direct employment of research professionals, but also indirect jobs created by supply and equipment vendors, contractors and laborers for the construction and renovation of laboratory facilities, administrators and managers who support the research infrastructure, and jobs created in the community by the disposable income of the scientific workforce.
  • The construction of the Jacob’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo is adding $1 billion in spending to the local and state economy.  
  • Through its academic programs, UB is helping to grow WNY and New York State by educating the highly skilled workforce that will be needed to compete in a global economy, providing the next generation of innovators with a firm foundation upon which to grow their own ideas, and helping to build the next generation of scholars. 
  • UB collaborates and partners with other AAU and local institutions to advance medical knowledge and medical treatments and patient care regionally and nationally.  
  • More than 60 companies have been created in the past four years through the transfer of technology from UB to the private sector. Many of these firms were launched in the UB Technology Incubator located near the North Campus. An incubator downtown will similarly enhance UB’s ability to transfer research to commercialization.
  • The qualitative value and impact of the University goes far beyond its annual multi-billion dollar economic impact. UB supports economic development in a variety of ways, including training the future highly-skilled workforce, conducting research, publishing research results, enabling faculty consulting, partnering with industry and transforming ideas into commercial products.  
  • UB provides the larger community with access to faculty experts, adds richness and diversity to the region’s cultural offerings, imports culture from outside of the country with international students, has provided research expertise, and is growing its new campus to become recognized throughout the world as a center of cutting-edge biomedical research collaborations with multiple hospitals to create a biomedical research cluster. 

How does AAU membership support and advance UB's academic mission?

  • AAU advocates for stable and sustained funding for scientific research.  At UB, this means continuation and acceleration of important, life-changing and transformational research that fuels new ideas, new technologies and new therapies on which the regional and national economy, health and national security depend.
  • The AAU continues to encourage Congress to support important funding initiatives such as Pell Grant awards and federal student aid programs that provide grants and work study to low- and middle-income students and that help at-risk students enter, and stay in, college. 
  • AAU supports, encourages and works for member universities like UB to maintain a strong federal commitment to graduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which is critical to preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers.