Psychology ranked in top 10 by National Science Foundation


Florida International University was recently ranked No. 9 in the nation by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research funding in psychology.

The recently released report ranks total and federally financed higher education research and development expenditures.

In 2017, the expenditure amount at FIU rose to its highest level yet — $20.5 million from $7.8 million in 2014. Higher expenditures mean more agencies are willing to invest in and fund the university’s research.

“FIU has been climbing rapidly and finally broke into the top-10 in research funding. Ten years ago, we were ranked in the 90s,” said Department of Psychology Chairman Jeremy Pettit. “This means our faculty are working very hard. Agencies are viewing our work as important, impactful and of public health significance.”

Pettit attributes the success in part to the university’s investment in research infrastructure through the Center for Children and Families (CCF) and Center for Imaging Science. But the greatest difference has been the people, he said. FIU is identifying and hiring faculty with high-potential for funding and providing the institutional support for them to obtain that funding.

FIU psychologists are working to better understand the brain and inform assessment and treatment of various disorders. They are evaluating better mental health treatments for children and adolescents. They are establishing best-practice guidelines for treating children with ADHD and how to best sequence those treatments. They are developing more precise methods of identifying problems and specific interventions based on how the brain works. They are also helping to set standards for investigative interviewing at various levels in law enforcement.

National agencies are increasingly investing in research that explores the interface of mental health and neuroscience, including the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Justice and NSF. FIU has the infrastructure needed to conduct groundbreaking research in those specific areas. CCF and the Center for Imaging Science provide direct access to research study participants and the latest technology. Students and post docs, who are training with some of the best scientists in the country, are instrumental in the grant application process and assist with the research once a grant starts.

What’s the recipe for success?

“The success is a reflection of the faculty,” Pettit said.  “The best I can do is get out of their way and position them to do what they do well.”

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