Science and engineering (S&E) research space at the nation’s research-performing colleges and universities increased 3.5 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2009 to FY 2011, according to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities. The biological and biomedical sciences continued to account for the bulk of growth, increasing by 8.0 percent during this period. This follows a 12.3 percent increase for this field from FY 2007 to FY 2009. In 2011, the biological and biomedical sciences accounted for 26.8 percent of research space, measured as total net assignable square feet (NASF). This was three percentage points higher than the share from FY 2007.
Total S&E research space grew from 196.1 million NASF to 202.9 million NASF during the last biennial period. However, the 3.5 percent increase is less than the median growth (4.7 percent) for the 11 biennial survey cycles from FY 1988 to FY 2011. All institution types experienced net growth in research space except nondoctorate granting institutions, in which research space declined 1.2 percent.
The psychology 5.8 percent and engineering 5.0 percent fields gained research space, whereas NASF devoted to the agricultural and natural sciences declined 6.4 percent, falling slightly below 2007 levels. Although research space for the physical sciences increased by 3.9 percent from FY 2009 to FY 2011, this growth was not distributed across all subfields. NASF for earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences declined by 2.5 percent, whereas NASF for astronomy, chemistry, and physics increased by 6.3 percent.