UMN departments receive high rankings for research

The ShanghaiRanking Consultancy ranked several University of Minnesota departments in the top 100 worldwide.

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Ray Shehadeh

The Carlson School of Management on Thursday, June 23.

by Amirah Razman

The ShanghaiRanking Consultancy released the 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects in July, which ranked several University of Minnesota programs in the top 100 worldwide including library and information science, biotechnology, psychology and mechanical engineering.

The ShanghaiRanking Consultancy is an independent organization that provides information about higher education research and consultation by publishing several sets of rankings every year. The Global Ranking of Academic Subjects is calculated based on the performance of a subject’s research output and influence, research quality, international collaboration and academic awards.

The University’s Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB) and management department were in the top 12; EEB was ranked second in the world and management ranked eleventh.

Mike Travisano, EEB department head, said he wasn’t surprised by the rankings but credited the work of researchers and was happy the department was being recognized.

“We don’t do the science … for the rankings. We do the science and the rankings follow,” Travisano said.

Travisano said he believes the program’s future-forward attitude makes it stand out from other EEB programs across the world. Much of the program’s research is based on not just looking at what happened in the past, but to also understand how the past happened to shape the future, he said.

For example, making predictions about climate change starts by understanding how past changes occur to make a prediction about the future, Travisano said. In terms of biodiversity, he said making biodiversity predictions also starts by understanding how it will change based on interactions with the environment.

The high ranking would increase the program’s recognition across the University and worldwide, which would allow the program to receive more resources to continue conducting research, according to Travisano. He said he also hopes the high ranking will provide the opportunity to bring in more students to the program.

“What we’ve tried to do is support our junior researchers when they first get here so that they are successful in launching their careers,” Travisano said.

While EEB’s individual research pursuits are credited for their high ranking, Alok Gupta, the senior associate dean of faculty research and administration at the Carlson School of Management, said he believes the productivity of Carlson management’s faculty is what contributed to the department’s ranking.

Gupta said the department has very high standards for research productivity for its faculty, and the school supports them by providing essential resources such as grants and access to databases.

Gupta credited the Twin Cities metro area as the main factor that makes the University’s management program different from others around the world. He said being close to about 17 Fortune 500 companies and several medium-sized companies allows the program to gain close access to businesses, which many state universities do not have access to due to their location.
“We have very close relationships with most of these businesses, and we are able to attract them to come to our classes and share their experience with our students and occasionally teach some classes,” Gupta said.

Gupta said he hopes the ranking will influence people to apply to the program and increase the diversity of applicants coming in from two-year programs.

“We have a very high emphasis on quality of teaching and quality of education for students,” he said.

Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson said the rankings were accurate given the University’s reputation as a research institution. She credited the Ph.D. students, faculty and professional research staff for the overall high ratings across the ranked programs.

“Rankings reflect what you’ve done, but they also point to opportunities for continued investment and growth,” Croson said.

She said the rankings will help the administration determine what the University’s strengths and weaknesses are and can help create a better understanding of what investments must be made to improve the overall quality of research.

The rankings serve as a reminder to Minnesota’s leaders and the general public of the research that is continuously being done at the University, interim Vice President for Research at the University Policy Library Frances Lawrenz said.

“Whether it’s the creation of apples that revitalized our fruit production, pediatric heart valves that grow with patients or the creation of more than 200 startup companies based on University technologies, the U’s standing as a research university is important to our state and our country,” Lawrenz said in an email to The Minnesota Daily.

Shashank Priya will assume the role of vice president for research at the University beginning Sept. 30. Lawrenz said he hopes Priya will continue to provide opportunities for the University to further grow and develop his research.

“[Priya] will be charged with helping to continue to refine the University’s research strategies in order to grow the University’s research footprint and to build upon the many existing strengths apparent in this latest Shanghai/ARWU report,” Lawrenz said.