Research at WVU benefits all West Virginia

West Virginia University’s role in improving lives and our state as a whole through education is obvious. WVU has made an enormous difference in that regard.

Less recognized by most Mountain State residents, however, are the contributions of WVU researchers. They have not gone unnoticed in the science and technology communities.

As was pointed out Monday, during a WVU event for journalists, the university is among the nation’s top research institutions.

It has an R-1 rating from the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But what, exactly, does it mean? More important, how does it affect our state?

Consider just a few tidbits gleaned from WVU’s research resume:

¯ According to the FBI, WVU is the national leader in biometrics research. Biometrics is used in a variety of ways, including identification.

¯ The American chestnut, once a mainstay of eastern forests, was nearly wiped out by a disease in the early 1900s. WVU scientists have successfully cloned the tree.

¯ R&D Magazine included a new fuel cell technology developed at WVU on its list of the “100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.”

¯ The world’s first institute dedicated to the study of human memory is at WVU. It is the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute.

¯ WVU researchers are involved in cutting-edge work to develop pain-relief technology that does not rely on opioid drugs.

¯ The largest crime-scene training complex in the world is at WVU.

¯ During 2017, WVU researchers raked in $185 million in sponsored contracts and research grants.

There is much more, a substantial amount of it benefiting West Virginians directly. For example, WVU is involved in important research on the implications of Marcellus Shale drilling. The university has important initiatives to help cancer patients directly.

In addition, many policymakers in our state rely on WVU researchers for answers to their questions.

Research at WVU has clear, substantial benefits to the state’s economy — and, beyond any reasonable doubt, will do much more in the future.

High technology is the wave of the economic future, it has been said. We in West Virginia already have a hub of high-tech activity, at WVU. Building on it may be our clearest, best path to a better future for everyone in the Mountain State.