The University of Montana may be searching for a new president, but its various components are running on all cylinders.

Scott Whittenberg, UM Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship, as well as Dean of the graduate school announced this week that the institution set a new research funding record for the third year in a row.

"We have a fair amount of funding through the National Institute of Health for our UM Health and Medicine Initiative," Whittenberg said. "There's also a lot of funding for biomedical research, clinical and translational research, in addition to funding from the National Science Foundation, the USDA and NASA. There's a lot of good work being done by a lot of faculty members."

Whittenberg revealed some impressive numbers coming into the university.

"We track the number of new research awards that we've received this past year, and that was up to about $88 million," he said. " We also tracked the amount of dollars we actually spent from the research grants that we've garnered, and that number is up almost 12 percent over last year. We're up to about $88. 2 million in research expenditures."

Whittenberg said research at UM runs in a number of directions.

"We're doing research on invasive species, such as the zebra mussels that are coming into the state," he said. "We're looking at health-related issues. We look at tribal communities and suicide prevention. It's very impactful for the state and also of national urgency."

Whittenberg said these research accomplishments and the growth of enrolled graduate students (up 200 since spring semester) indicate that the University is on a path to achieving Carnegie R1 or Research Highest Activity status to place it among the elite research universities across the country.